Kiss Me Kill Me (1973)

JANUARY 25, 2011


When re-watching Pieces for my Terror Tuesday column, I realized that it had been three years since I had bought the “Blood Bath” set it was on, and that I still hadn’t watched any of the other movies on it. Kill Baby Kill, of course, I had already seen, so that didn’t count, but I was surprised/dismayed to discover that one of the other films was Devil’s Nightmare, which I had bought (and watched) on a DIFFERENT budget pack about a month ago. So that just left Kiss Me, Kill Me (aka Baby Yaga, Devil Witch), which as far as I know I don’t already own elsewhere (since I will be buying the special edition of Pieces eventually, that would make it the ONLY film on the set I only own once).

Of course, I could own 30 copies of this movie and still have trouble understanding what the hell was going on throughout large chunks of its running time. Best I can figure, it concerns a witch (Yaga) who falls in love with Valentina, a photographer who doesn’t appear to be a lesbian, but I guess that doesn’t matter. Anyway, part of Yaga’s attempts to woo her involve messing with Valentina’s camera, which makes it act like a kind of lame gun as whenever she tries to take a picture with it, the subject is suddenly injured (and in one case killed, I think). Later, there’s a dominatrix doll in her studio... and from then on I couldn’t even begin to try to make sense out of the movie. I don’t even know if Yaga is killed at the end – Valentina sort of pushes her back and she falls through a hole in the floor, and later all they find is a doll head.

Part of the problem is that the movie has dream sequences and hallucinations, but it’s never clear where they start or begin. Our characters appear as Nazis at one point, but whether that’s real or not is up to debate. And that would be fine if the story or characters were interesting enough to put any thought into them once the movie had finished, but that’s not the case here. Valentina is in nearly every frame of the movie but I still couldn’t tell you one thing about her, other than that she’s a photographer and has a boyfriend that looked like a homeless dude.

I can chalk some of my confusion up to the language barrier, admittedly. The dubbing isn’t very good – characters often talk over one another (and they also dub background extras’ murmurs, so a character saying something of minor important is drowned out by the ADR of a guy just talking about his drink or whatever). There is a scene with protesters carrying signs, but they don’t bother to subtitle them or even dub in the sounds of protesters expressing their sentiments, so I don’t even know what they’re upset about, let alone if I should be on their side or not. There’s also an important note later that non-Italian speaking folk aren’t going to be privy to.

It’s also annoyingly artsy at times, such as during a sex scene where instead of any real action, the lovers just stare at each other for a while, intercut with a comic book (the film is based on a comic, I guess) and single black and white frames of their love-making. There’s almost no real violence in the movie, they can at least deliver on the sex! And it resembles a French New Wave film at times; the characters discuss the revolution and comment about cinema and politics amidst awkwardly edited scenes. Hey, anything to avoid explaining what the dominatrix ghost is all about, I guess.

Because of this kitchen sink attitude, it’s at least never really boring. I never knew where the hell the story would be going next, and besides, as the saying goes, a movie that has Nazis, dominatrices, comic books, creepy dolls, minor lesbian undertones, a shootout (that’s actually a soap commercial), protesters, and wacky photo shoots can’t be all together bad. The ladies were easy on the eyes, the score was wonderful (and appeared to influence Carpenter at times, there’s a simple 3 note repeated cue that sounds a lot like the stuff in Halloween when Loomis is telling Brackett all about Michael), and there’s even a monkey at one point. I’d almost recommend putting the movie on mute, cuing up whatever music you like and simply enjoying the visuals.

Sadly I couldn’t even do that much, since the Blood Bath transfer was awful. While Pieces’ was above average for this sort of thing, Kiss Me has the blurriest, low grade transfer I’ve ever seen on a dedicated disc (it’s the only thing on the side of the disc; unlike Mill Creek which puts 2-3 movies per side). Worse, the cropping was abysmal – the movie was only 1.85:1 but the missing information was quite obvious throughout, particularly in the opening credits, with nearly all of the names being cut in half:

Ironic pan & scan?

So I dunno, it’s barely even a horror movie since the witch stuff is too confusing to scare or even become suspenseful – it’s not like she wanted to kill Valentina or even anyone else around, she just used her powers to try to get her in the sack. The movie has a kind of creepy vibe once the doll comes into play, but that’s also when it gets even more confusing. Basically, it’s the type of thing you’d see playing on the TV at some hipster bar, and after seeing 5-10 minutes completely out of context, think “I HAVE to see this thing!” and then get all disappointed when you do.

What say you?


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