Truth be told, I love a good vampire movie: Nosferatu, Frank Langella as Dracula, Fright Night, Guillermo del Toro's Cronos, the Swedish Let the Right One In -- excellent examples have come in lots of different forms. That predilection means that I can also enjoy a truly bad vampire movie, and that is where Kiss of the Damned, the new feature from Xan Cassavetes, comes in. This is the first feature from Cassavetes, who just happens to be the daughter of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, and it may be her last, at least while working from her own script. Not all directors are meant to write their own screenplays, and as these things go, Kiss of the Damned is a spectacular disaster. The audience at the screening I saw, not made up only of jaded critics, cringed and laughed at many lines of dialogue. The movie is either a tribute to the cheesy vampire films of the 1970s or it is just risibly bad.
Kiss of the Damned (directed by Xan Cassavetes)
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On the other hand, if you like the thought of watching a group of snooty vampires, led by the self-righteous and artistic Xenia (played by Anna Mouglalis of Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky), discuss how they might achieve the glories of human civilization by imposing laws of self-restraint, all while snorting down amuse-gueules of organic plasma, this is the movie for you. These vampires are, or at least pretend to be, ashamed of their blood-sucking tendencies, meaning that only the out-of-control antics of Mesquida's bad-girl Mimi provide the traditional needle-edge fun and biting humor of B movies. Cassavetes and her cinematographer, Tobias Datum (Smashed), create a slickly produced visual world, heavy on horror-movie cliches -- full moon, mist, quivering hand-held shots. At the very least, it is easy on the eyes.
This film opens today at Landmark's E Street Cinema.