Posted: 01/28/2009

 

Kiss of the Vampire

(2009)

by Jason Coffman




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I feel like I need to establish one thing right away: Kiss of the Vampire is an extremely misleading title. Not quite as misleading as the film’s working title, though. That was Immortally Yours. Either way, the titles conjures images of vampire romance— Immortally Yours, in particular, sounds more like a Harlequin romance novel than a vampire movie. However, the prospective viewer should be warned that there is little romance and even less actual vampire kissing in this film. While that may have been the initial focus of the film, somewhere along the way things got really, really complicated, and the final product is truly bizarre.

As the film opens, Estelle Henderson (Katherine Hawkes, who also wrote the film’s screenplay) attends an opera with her parents and her drunken ass fiance. During the performance, her eyes are drawn to dark, emo-coiffed Alex (Daniel Goddard). The fiance makes a scene outside the theatre, Alex steps in, and suddenly Alex and Estelle are having dinner together. There’s an obvious attraction between the two, but Alex has to leave abruptly, apparently sticking Estelle with the bill.

The film has already been treading just this side of unintentional comedy, but it jumps over the line and starts running in the next scene: as a “Techno Syndrome” soundalike song plays over the soundtrack, the camera glides along through a nightclub where three girls grind away on a raised platform and a clown juggles on another stage. It’s here where the film introduces Alex’s vampire clan, the kind of vampires most of us hoped were gone forever in the wake of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They’re standard-issue decadent black-leather Eurotrash, and two of them even have accents to prove they’re, uh, from the “old country.” The police bust the club for some reason, and the vampires leave through the back door and stand around for a couple minutes hissing and striking threatening poses at the cops before Alex teleports them all back to their mansion.

Already, we have a laundry list of questions: why did the cops bust the club? Why did the vampires leave out the back door instead of immediately teleporting home? Don’t the cops all know what the vampires look like now? Why aren’t the cops more freaked out by the fact that vampires exist? Was there seriously a scene earlier with Costas Mandylor? Did he have a weekend off between Saw movies? Is that Martin Kove? What the hell is going on?

The film spirals completely out of control soon after this, as it is revealed that Estelle’s father works for a young man named Victor Price (Eric Etebari, who is clearly enjoying himself in the villain role). Victor, as it turns out, runs the Illuminati, despite looking like he’s in his 30s and everyone else in the organization looks to be at least 60. Maybe he inherited it? In any case, the Illuminati are trying to unlock the secrets of eternal life, which dovetails nicely with Alex’s sudden desire to not be a vampire any more so he can marry Estelle and live a normal life. Those two dates with her clearly made a big impression. Estelle’s father agrees to help Alex while the Illuminati look on with keen interest and continue their business of running the world and botching huge drug deals so we can have another scene with lots of CG gunshots and blood.

Like many low-budget horror films, Kiss of the Vampire is way too ambitious. As three major plot lines all run simultaneously, you can’t help but wonder if at least one of them was just there as an excuse to insert some dull action scenes. So there’s a tiny bit of romance patched into the rest of the film, which is kind of an action movie, sort of a techno-thriller, and partly a horror movie by default (what with the vampires and all). However, I can’t say that I wasn’t entertained by Kiss of the Vampire— depending on your mood, Kiss of the Vampire might be an enjoyable slice of low-budget cheese or an intolerable mess. I would highly recommended it for fans of Martin Kove movies… you know who you are.

Jason Coffman is a film critic living in Chicago.



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