Kiss Of The Vampire (2009)

MARCH 13, 2012


One of my favorite MST3k episodes was Soultaker, a convoluted horror/romance in which Mike and the bots got a lot of mileage out of the fact that the film’s terrible lead actress also wrote the movie. Thus, it’s a shame that the show ended before Kiss Of The Vampire, because it would be prime MST3k fodder AND would probably lead to some Soultaker in-jokes, as this one is also written by its wooden lead actress. As a self-deprecating sort, I am fascinated by the stones (or female equivalent) of someone who would write a movie in which their character would be looked upon as the most perfect woman in the world, as Katherine Hawkes has done here.

The most depressing thing about this mess is that there’s actually a theoretically cool idea at its heart. Our main vampire wants to become mortal so he can “swim in the ocean and run through the woods” (that he can do these things at night is irrelevant, I guess), and our main villain – the head of the Illuminati, in fact – wants to become immortal. A fun little hook, but what should have been a horror version of Vice Versa (or Change Up if you’re nasty) becomes a convoluted nightmare of a movie, with drug dealers, euro-trash vampires, a cop that dresses as a clown for reasons that are never explained, a ghost, a beauty salon (?), and who knows what else are also tossed into the mix. It’s like they had an idea for a syndicated TV show that they decided to condense into one 100 minute movie without bothering to simplify matters.

On top of that, it fails miserably as a romance, which seems to be what Hawkes was trying to make. The two have no chemistry at all, and even at the end when he (spoiler) becomes mortal, they don’t even go at it enough to warrant an “S” for a TV-PG rating. Their undying love more or less comes out of nowhere (she also has a fiancĂ© when they meet, who should have been a complication), and the big “I’m a vampire and can’t be with you!” scene is punctuated with the following dialogue exchange, transcribed verbatim:

Hawkes: “Kiss me!”
Vampire: “I can’t…”
Hawkes: “Kiss me!”
Vampire: “I can’t…”
Hawkes: “Kiss me!”
Vampire: “I can’t… I CAN’T!”

And he stays true to his word for the entire goddamn movie. I mean, I know I’m all about horror, but I can also be an easy sucker for a romantic movie (I really liked The Vow, for Christ’s sake), and thus have a pretty good radar for what counts as a decent romance. This ain’t it.

The action and horror elements are just as woeful. Most of the deaths are off-screen or just poorly staged, and it seems no one involved understood where the heart was – thrill as a vampire dies from a wooden stake to the… belly. Gunfights are even worse – everyone just stands around waiting to be shot, and when they are they just sort of topple like they’re tired and want to sit down for a few minutes. The vampires also often act like their feet are glued to the ground; at one point they’re approached by only a couple of guys but they just stand there and hiss rather than fight, even though it seems it’d be a pretty easy fight for them. This is the sort of movie that introduces a badass vampire hunter employed by Interpol (!) and then has him go down like any regular chump before he even does anything cool.

Said “badass” is played by Matthias Hues from I Come In Peace. Now, that film has what is inarguably the greatest one-liner in action movie history (Hues: “I come in peace!” Dolph: “And you go in pieces, asshole.”), and since his career isn’t exactly jam-packed with classics you should assume that someone high on the food chain of this production would point this out before shooting this movie’s similar “dialogue showdown” moment:

Evil Vampire: “Prepare to die!”
Hues: “I don’t think so.”

Yeah, you can practically hear the audience cheer that one. Nice job, Hawkes.

Hues is one of the many B-movie vets to appear in the film, which is probably the only good thing about it. Costas Mandylor is one of the bad humans (this was shot before his Saw entries; he looks so young!), Martin Kove is a hitman of some sort, Gary Daniels is another vampire, and the romantic vampire lead is none other than Daniel Goddard, who was Dar on the Beastmaster TV show (and, quite fittingly, went from this to an actual soap opera). Ghoulies II’s Phil Fondacaro also appears for good measure. I can only assume that their salaries were paid from the sound unit’s budget, by the way, since the movie sounds almost entirely dubbed and often employs hilariously bad sound effects. All of the guns sound alike during shootouts, and when police are supposedly arriving on a scene, we just hear a canned siren even though there is nothing in the shot to suggest there’s even a police car around at all, let alone one with its siren (and thus presumably its lights as well) turned on.

In short, there is a good reason this thing sat on a shelf for three years. But it’s definitely a laugh riot to enjoy with friends – I haven’t even mentioned the total batshit finale (floating heads are involved), the lengthy fairy tale epilogue, or the Rebecca Black-level closing credits ballad “Immortally Yours”, which was the original title for this thing. I was laughing my ass off every five minutes or so, and even though it’s terrible on every level, I’m actually kind of impressed at how much nonsense they crammed into this one movie. Fuck simplicity!

Sadly, Hawkes hasn’t written another movie since. She was the voice of a skeleton in a Hellboy video game though.

What say you?


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