Friday, September 12, 2008

Kiss of the Vampire – review


Directed by: Joe Tornatore

First released: 2006

Contains spoilers

When this premiered on Zone Horror, in the summer of 2008, you just knew it wasn’t to be confused with Hammer’s classic Kiss of the Vampire. Indeed the channel aired it as Immortally Yours, but the title screen of the actual film stated Kiss of the Vampire and so that is what it is being reviewed as.

Now, one of the first things that struck me was that this didn’t appear to be a digi-cam shot film, which was a shock in itself. Actual film appeared to have been used, betraying a level of budget and indicating a certain level of competence. Up front I’m going to have to say that the initial appearance of competence appears to have been little more than a confidence trick.

vampires that sound like raptorsThe film begins with a man running down the road, pursued. He is attacked by vampires. How do we know this before we see them (other than the fact that it is a vampire flick, of course)? Because the filmmakers decided to make the vampires sound like Raptors from Jurassic Park, an all too common modern affliction and affectation that has crept into the genre.

Elsewhere in the city Estelle Henderson (Katherine Hawkes) arrives at the opera with her father, George (Nick Jameson), her mother (Olga Hawkes) and her rather drunk fiancé (Andrew Bowen). In the opera she meets the eye of a stranger, Alex (Daniel Goddard). After the performance, and outside the venue, the fiancé punches her father and Alex comes to the rescue. He takes Estelle to dinner.

a female vampElsewhere again and a young girl is followed, as she leaves a YWCA, by a man named Rex (Costas Mandylor). He is willing to kill witnesses and takes the girl alive. We cut to a nightclub. Alex has abandoned Estelle and is there with a group of people in the VIP section. Two women dance with a man, then they sprout fangs and attack him. All those in the VIP section descend upon the man except Alex, who fights the hunger.

vampire victimThere is a police raid of the club, looking for drugs, what they find is the murdered young man and then manage to surround Alex and his friends outside. The vampires vanish into thin air, much to the police’s initial confusion, and appear at a mansion where daylight helper Michael Bates (Phil Fondacaro) leads them to their coffins. The police realise they have vampires on their hands.

Eric Etebari as Victor PriceThe police call in Marshall Pope (Matthias Hues), an ex-mob hitman turned Interpol vampire hunter (I kid you not), but what about Rex and the kidnapped girl? Well she has been taken so that her heart can be transplanted, against her will, into Victor Price (Eric Etebari) – leader of the Illuminati. At this point I gave up. Illuminati, for God’s sake, what are you thinking. It isn’t big or clever, its just clichéd.

Alex and EstelleThis is a scripting/plot problem – we’ll return to them soon – but for now let us say the police are hunting vampires and get involved with the Illuminati aspects. Alex falls for Estelle but can’t be with her as he is a vampire. Her father is working as a research scientist, trying to uncover immortality for the Illuminati, and agrees to help him become human – hoping that the key to immortality will be found as well.

Stake in the... stomachLore wise, Alex has a virus; although obviously it is one that allows him to vanish in a puff of smoke at will. A stake through the heart will kill a vampire – though it does seem that a stake through the stomach will do the trick as well. Perhaps that is slightly unfair, after all plenty of vampire genre films fail to locate the heart, but this film bugged me and so this failure to understand anatomy was a bigger problem in this film.

smoking in the sunlamp's glareSunlight is deadly, as are sun lamps. There was a fight between cops and vampires towards the end which really underlined some of the problems inherent in the flick. The vampires would have won early on if they hadn’t been posing, posturing and hissing in a Raptor-like way. The cops, on the other hand, would have won without losses if they hadn’t gone toe to toe but had someone stood by the switch, when the vampires came in, that put the sunlamps on. Our main vampire killed this way (at the end of the fight) smokes, whereas one already staked melts.

talking headsI mention script and plot and the plot is preposterous – dealing with the Illuminati by turning their leaders into vampires and then Alex using his vampire powers to transport them (or their heads at least) into space where they can rage (and not freeze for some reason that I could not fathom) for eternity was ridiculous for many a reason including the fact that, of course, we would expect beheading to kill a vampire! But worst than this was, perhaps, the scripting.

Lines appear that are cringe worthy. “Alex was right,” says a vampire chickadee to which the retort is, “Silvia, how can you imply that Alex was right?” She did not imply (hint, without stating directly) she actually stated. Please learn English before you write a script in it.

Matthias Hues as Marshall PopeYet, even shoddier than the script was the actual acting meant to deliver it. Perennial favourite Phil Fondacaro seems to be going through the motions and little else, but as I made notes I wrote in big capital letters Estelle (by which I obviously meant actress Katherine Hawkes) can’t act. Seriously she was awful, she had one expression (kind of a serious look that descended into patronising, sickly smile) and a sub-soap opera delivery. Then I realised that she not only starred but was the writer, I therefore have had a bit of a go twice - seriously though, both criticisms (acting and writing) were valid. The rest of the cast were nothing to write home about. Matthias Hues was less vampire hunter and more a refugee from Status Quo.

Altogether a waste of time and effort. 1.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

I just watched this on Zone Horror. 1.5 out of 10 is generous. Apart from the awful acting, effects and cinematography, the director really deserves to be slapped and then kept away from film for ever.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Simon, cheers for the comment - I think its the first time a score so low has been considered generous but...

I can't actually think what was in there to actually warrant me giving it those 1.5 points, so perhaps it was overly generous

Pidde Andersson said...

I watched this flick a couple of months ago, only because my old buddy Gary Daniels is in it. He's the kickboxing vampire. And he looks really confused throughout the movie. I ain't surprised this movie spent several years on the shelf before it hit DVD the U.S. about last Christmas.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Thanks for the comment Pidde.

To be honest, my wife watched this recently as she rather likes Danniel Goddard and she was horrified by what she saw.

It ain't a great film but most actors will make a turkey from time to time.

cheers for stopping by