Last week SXSW unveiled this year's midnight movie lineup and it looks to be a twisted mix of titles from a wide range of genre niches. And as you might guess from the title, Kiss of the Damned has the vampire corner covered, and judging from the poster Magnet Releasing has given us to premiere, this doesn't look like your average vampire movie.
If it brings to mind Europe's more erotic-tinged horror movies of the '60s and '70s, that's certainly intentional, but when we spoke to writer-director Xan Cassavetes (Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession) about her latest film, she cautioned that it's not strictly the homage-filled movie the poster implies. It's eye-catching, to say the least, but apparently it's not just a simple throwback film. Her full comments about how the film breaks from expectations are below, but first, the plot synopsis:
Beautiful vampire Djuna (Josephine de La Baume) tries to resist the advances of the handsome, human screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia), but eventually gives in to their passion. When her troublemaker sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) unexpectedly comes to visit, Djuna's love story is threatened, and the whole vampire community becomes endangered…
Movies.com: Going off the poster, is Kiss of the Damned a callback to older, European vampire movies?
Xan Cassavetes: Yeah, it's definitely more European. The poster is a bit more homage-y than the movie. It's definitely more influenced by European horror of the '60s and '70s, but it's not an homage movie. It goes its own routes.
Movies.com: How do you make a vampire movie stand out in this day and age? Do you have to navigate people's expectations?
Cassavetes: The only expectations I've ever cared about are my own. The movie is kind of strange, but it's what I wanted it to be. It is a vampire movie, and I love vampire movies that are big and opulent and they have extreme sexuality in them, but they're also fun and melodramatic. They're sarcastic, but they're not. I love this forum to play in. Everything I've ever wanted to write has erotic subtext, because those are the kinds of movies I grew up on. I grew up on European films where sexuality was a part of people's normal lives and to omit that depiction in a story feels like it's missing an opportunity to show a character in one of its most intense forms.
Movies.com: Did you want to make this movie to fill a void you feel we've been missing?
Cassavetes: I did it because I was bored, even with the things I was writing. They were too straight, too boring, too indie; a little too fitting within what was acceptable. I wanted to make something that was unlike anything else out there, not one that satisfied expectations at all. This is a movie where you don't know if it's serious or sarcastic or funny, but it's all those things. It's outlandish and over the top and brutal and I like using the format of a vampire movie to tell the story of true creatures of the Earth who go through these things, but in a heightened way, with beautiful costumes and great music and atmosphere and sensuality all justified by the fact that it's a vampire movie.
Movies.com: Is there any single way you'd want to pitch the film to lure in midnight audiences?
Cassavetes: I have no idea. The poster definitely is evocative of one thing, and hopefully the way the film plays out is beyond expectations of a throwback film or whatever. I hope it brings out a vintage and European sensibility and mixes it with the here and now and is resonant with people on a level that's different than what they've seen before.
Magnet Releasing will release Kiss of the Damned on VOD March 28, 2013, and in theaters beginning May 3, 2013.
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