The Kiss (1988)
Director: Pen Densham
When Amy’s (Salenger) mother dies in a nasty accident, her odd, sexy aunt (Pacula) moves in, seduces her dad, kills her friends, shows her tits and tries to pass on to her the family demon. And I thought my aunt wuz a beeyatch!
I saw this flick on the big screen when I was a wee Arrow and loved it. Shite, I even had a poster of it on my wall. Now that I’m all grownz up, I’m sad to say that the movie doesn’t come through. It starts off on the right foot with a moody and creepy prologue. But then the bad dialogue, the huge plot holes and the horrible fashion creeps in (you dig yellow sweaters tied around one’s neck or a shirt with an big eagle design on it…HAVE A BLAST!) and the more the movie clocked forward, the dumber it got.
The crucial question is: who approved this crap-stained script? The dialogue is extremely corny (poor actors) and the script is filled with way too many inconsistencies. Like having Amy (Salenger) complain that her aunt is feeding her weird health food all the time but not having one scene where we actually see her do it. Or having the “boy toy” break into the aunt’s apartment when he was never told where it was. Then there’s the ending. How come when the curse was passed on in the prologue all it needed was a kiss and now it needs all kinds of mumbo jumbo rituals? I’ll tell you why…so the story can have some half ass beat-the-clock style tension. And to cap it all off, the end battle sequence is just plain ridiculous. I was laughing out loud! The rake, the weed trimmer, a corny snake-like creature and one atrociously bad one-liner (fuck you Felix…what’s that all about?) are all brought into the game. The best was having Amy (Salenger) struggle to get out of the pool as the silly looking creature headed her way. It's supposed to be really suspenseful, she keeps on getting half out of the pool and then falling back into the water again. The catch: the pool ladder is like right next to her…DUH!
It’s unfortunate because the movie has a few things going for it. First off, Joanna Pacula is great in it. She carries the film and puts that sexual energy to good use. The directing is also at times very effective (the director does overplay his card though---see DIRECTING section below), the murders are mostly kool (that escalator kill is one for the bloody books) and the demon cat, although very silly looking, causes some fun havoc. The Kiss plays it all on a serious note but the script is too clumsy to be taken seriously. I laughed at the movie many times and I’m sure that’s not what they were going for. Suck my tongue…
The howler is the car accident leg scene…enough said. We also get scissor in throat, bullet in the head, edge trimmer in the gut, a human torch and one ugly cat puppet going ape-shite. What was up with that cat puppet anyway? Looked more like a dyed black “Critter” than a feline.
Joanna Pacula (Felice) stands out here. Her performance is subtle, sexy and menacing. She owns every scene she’s in. Meredith Salenger (Amy) does ok. Some of her scenes do feel awkward because of the bad dialogue though. Mimi Kuzyk (Brenda) does what she can with the bad dialogue but misses the mark many times. Nicholas Kilbertus (Jack) smiles way too much, has trouble with levels (sometimes he just puts too much into his lines…chill buddy) and is just plain annoying. Sabrina Boudot (Heather) is blonde and talks trash a lot…whatever. Shawn Levy (Terry) does ok but I had trouble buying him as a heterosexual male, he’s too effeminate. Pamela Collyer (Hilary) is god-awful! Did she even want to be on set? Lucky for us, she’s not in the movie for long. Philip Pretten (Father) does fine with what he has to do. NOTE: all actors generally look worse than they really are when given putrid dialogue to recite…not their fault…
T & A
Joanna Pacula shows off her ripe cantaloupe. Meredith Salenger is all about wet bathing suits and the ladies get Nicholas Kilbertus with his shirt off sucking in that gut like a champ.
During the prologue, Densham gets a few moody shots in. I loved the train smoke that washes over the scene with bluish light glaring in the back. And as the movie moves forward, he slips in a few more beautiful images (my fav is the pool sprinkling with light from the sun) but then he starts losing a grasp on himself. You see, Delsam likes to shoot inanimate objects in threatening ways. He does well with the escalator scene set-up (I will never go to the mall again) and it works because a murder follows. But then he loses it shooting a washing machine, boiling red water and a pool vacuum in very scary ways. Unfortunately those scenes are not followed by murders. His attempt at injecting tension/symbolism in every object fails and actually comes across as a desperate act. There’s such a thing as trying TOO hard. This flick is a perfect example. One more thing: Denshan...on your next flick please go easy on the wind chime shots…you killed that too…
When the score is at its most subtle, it is very effective. But when it cranks up a few notches, it loses its weight.
This one could’ve been a supernatural version of “The Stepfather”. But the incredibly bad script and the frequent directing overkill bury that potential. All we’re left with is some decent gore, some cheap laughs (laughing at it) and Joanna Pacula looking like a million bucks. Now I remember why I liked it so much as a kid: Joanna Pacula’s sex scenes…the gal looks very yummy naked…where’s the whipped cream?
If you don’t sneeze, you might hear the “Fright Night” reference.
The film was shot in Montreal, Canada for a budget of $6 million.