5 Questions With ‘Kiss Of the Damned’ Writer/Director Xan Cassavetes!

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Magnolia Pictures releases writer/director Xan Cassavetes‘ wonderful Kiss of the Damned in theaters on Friday, May 3rd. I really had a lot of fun with this one (review here) and urge you to see it on the big screen.

In the film, “Beautiful vampire Djuna tries to resist the advances of human screenwriter Paolo, but eventually gives in to their passion. When her sister Mimi comes to visit, Djuna’s love story is threatened, and the whole vampire community becomes endangered…” Joséphine de la Baume, Milo Ventimiglia, Roxane Mesquida, Anna Mouglalis, Michael Rapaport, Riley Keough and Ching Valdes-Aran star.

I recently hopped on the phone with Cassavetes and we discussed Kiss Of The Damned‘s look, its sexy 70’s swagger and the welcome appearance of a coked out Michael Rapaport. Head inside to check it out!

I really liked the film. How did the ball get rolling on this? Was it a reaction against other vampire stories?

The house. The house is what triggered the entire movie. There was a man who owned the house who was thinking of doing a horror film in it, actually it was a big misunderstanding – he actually owned a shack nearby and was actually talking about that. But I was taken up to the house, which is beautiful, and was asked to think of an inexpensive horror movie – and I did. It was a combination of nature and something sinisterly unnatural about the setting. As I walked through the house I felt it was sort of a transitional place, the people who owned it weren’t living in it.

And I thought of a lonely, beautiful female vampire sort of in the middle of one home and as time goes by she has to keep moving. And she’s in that house figuring out where she’ll go next.

The movie does have a throwback feel to it. It has a swagger, for lack of a better word.

It’s definitely an influence, but it’s only there as a flavor to support the kind of story I wanted to tell, which is about psychology and the predicament of being alive on this planet. That was really the meat and potatoes of what I was trying to do. But a lot of people grew up watching these foreign films and it sort of infected my mind, maybe there’s a relatedness.

One of the things that was most surprising to me about this was that Djuna and Paolo have a real affection for each other. The form a real relationship that extends beyond that of a parasite and host. They care for each other.

As a writer making personal movies, everything you write becomes biographical. Even if you don’t recognize it until after you finish. Especially with this movie because it took 3 weeks to write, a lot of subconscious stuff worked its way in. Even though I thought it was a vampire movie that had nothing to do with me [laughs]. What it says about love is very personal to me, and maybe cynical, I don’t know. They do have a response to each other that is very deep and very urgent.

The film is very vibrant.

Well, it’s not very popular to use so much color these days, but I really wanted to and so did the DP. We were shooting on the Alexa and wanted to figure out how to make the most rich, deep and heightened world possible. All of these things were sort of experiments, we had to cater to our destiny.

Michael Rapaport really pops as the agent in this, was he the first person you had in mind?

Yeah, he’s a really dear friend of mine. His son is actually friends with my son and I’ve known him before that even. We were going to do a movie a long time ago but that fell through. [So] I wrote this part for him and, I don’t know if he did it as a favor or he really liked it, but he was great. It was meant to be sort of a jarring 180 back into the world of the humans after this life of atmosphere as a vampire and he really knew where I was coming from. He’s great as this coked out monster who also means well, he makes it interesting for me. These two worlds exist on the same planet and he represents the human world just by the energy he brings in.

  • janetgrey

    This film truly is a gem.