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Exclusive: Xan Cassavetes Talks Kiss of the Damned and More

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Exclusive: Xan Cassavetes Talks Kiss of the Damned and MoreXan Cassavetes may not be a name that immediately jumps out at you (well, maybe the last name does if you’re a cinephile…) but that’s all about to change come May 3rd when her feature film debut, Kiss of the Damned, arrives in limited theaters courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

The vampire-infused story follows two sisters who lead very different paths in life- there’s Djuna (Josephine de La Baume), the well-meaning and soulful vampire who has spent a lifetime and more trying to retain her humanity, while her sister, Mimi (Roxane Mesquida), has always been a troublemaker with an unquenchable thirst for blood and anarchy.

After Djuna sparks up a passionate love affair with a human screenwriter named Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia), Mimi’s arrival threatens the passion developing between the two lovers, and soon Mimi’s latest reckless actions trigger a dangerous chain reaction, threatening the entire vampire community as a whole and jeopardizing Djuna and Paolo’s evolving relationship together.

Dread Central recently chatted with Kiss of the Damned writer/director Cassavetes about what inspired her to tackle the horror genre for her debut project, her approach to capturing the intoxicating and often seductive world of vampires and what we can expect from this up-and-comer whose entire life has always revolved around filmmaking and powerful storytelling in some capacity (her parents being iconic film pioneer John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands).

Dread Central: Great job on this movie- I’ve been pretty much done with vampires for a while now, but somehow you found a way to reinvigorate my interests with Kiss of the Damned. Where did the story inspiration come from?

Xan Cassavetes: It actually came to me while I was on a tour of the house; a friend of a friend made a movie there, and when I had the chance to tour the property, I was struck by the setting and how this huge house was just sitting there sinisterly amongst all this wilderness and beauty. I thought the way it contrasted against nature made it perfect for the story I was telling, which also explores the idea of nature vs. unnaturality.

Dread Central: I thought the dynamic between the sisters in the film was particularly compelling and they had a really interesting balance of pain, concern and love. Can you talk about developing that relationship in the script and how much of that was influenced by your own relationships with your own siblings?

Xan Cassavetes: There’s probably a little bit of that stuff in there, but nothing as dramatic as what you see between Djuna and Mimi in the movie- like, at all (laughs). I just thought it would be interesting to follow these two sisters who were bitten by their ballet teacher and to see how someone in a position of authority and trust could take advantage and how that would affect them, separately and together. It forever changed them in some ways, and in other ways they still remained true to their own human natures.

I also wanted to explore how one sister was so desperately clinging to her own humanity despite not being human for a very, very long time and how the other embraces her own endless rage and destructive nature and the ramifications of those decisions. They’re kind of alien to each other but are still drawn to each other through a constant desire to stay connected in some way.

Dread Central: I thought you made some really smart decisions stylistically on this film, particularly with the shooting style and the sound design, giving Kiss of the Damned a great, timeless feel- almost like it’s been locked away in a vault since the 70’s and finally discovered now.

Xan Cassavetes: Thank you so much for saying that- we all worked really hard on nailing down the right look and feel to the movie and spent an INCREDIBLE amount of time working on the sound specifically. To me, sound was everything because in this world vampires have these heightened senses so it only made sense that both the visuals and the sounds would be a lot more vibrant than maybe they’d be in any other kind of movie. Stylistically, it just made so much sense to put a lot of time and effort into both of those elements because it was what was going to really elevate Kiss to something more than ‘just another vampire movie.’

Dread Central: What’s coming up next for you then? Are you planning on sticking around the horror genre for a while?

Xan Cassavetes: You know, I’ve been so busy focusing on Kiss of the Damned for so long that I haven’t really had too much time to focus on anything else. I am finishing up a screenplay this week though which is exciting. It’s sci-fi but not really, kind of a similar approach to how I made Kiss of the Damned. I’m definitely embracing the beats of the sci-fi genre more on that project than I embraced the vampire ones for this film so it will be a bit more traditionally structured.

I just really thought that all those sci-fi ideas and themes make for great storytelling fodder and fertile ground for using metaphors to convey your message. That really excites me as a filmmaker; I can’t wait to finish this script up and get started.

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The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell

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Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law

Directed by John Law


I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.

The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.

The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.

  • Film
3.5

Summary

The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.

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Exclusive Clip: Psychotic! A Brooklyn Slasher Film Gets High in the Shower

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All right, you party hardy folks from Brooklyn… this one should speak volumes to you and your sinful, decadent, and raucous ways! Today we’ve got an exclusive clip from the upcoming psychedelic horror title Psychotic! A Brooklyn Slasher Film, which sees one of the characters getting high in a bathroom and then thinking he’ll pull a prank on his friends. However, it turns out that he’s never seen Psycho because we all know what happens when you’re in the shower and someone mysterious enters the bathroom! You can see the grisly action for yourself below.

There will be special screenings of Psychotic! at the Nitehawk Theater in Williamsburg on January 25th, Film Noir Cinema in Greenpoint on the 26th, and Videology on the 27th. The film will come to VOD platforms on January 26th.

Written and directed by Derek Gibbons and Maxwell Frey, Psychotic! A Brooklyn Slasher Film stars Kristen Martin, Clint Keepin, Cirocco Dunlap, Maria Wojciechowski, Dani Grace, Adam Maid, Rafael Cruz, Chris Prine, Aldous Davidson, and Rachel Laforest.

Synopsis:
The rent is high, but the body count is higher in Psychotic!, the suspenseful psychedelic slasher that follows a group of hard-partying Brooklyn hipsters as they’re stalked and savagely murdered by a masked maniac known as the Bushwick Party Killer.

It’s up to struggling artists Tim and Stuart to figure out who keeps killing the life of the party. Blood-soaked mayhem ensues as our heroes barely make the rent on time, search for love (in all the wrong places), and try to salvage their friendship – all while trying to unravel the mystery and stay one step ahead of the next massacre.

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Witness the Evolution of Jason Voorhees in New Animated Video

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I love Jason Voorhees.

And what makes Jason my favorite of all horror movie villains is that, unlike Freddy, Michael, and Leatherface, Jason has evolved a f*cking ton over his cinematic lifespan.

Changing from a bald kid in a lake, to a backwoods butcher with a love for potato sacks, to an unstoppable zombie force, Jason has come a long way, baby. And today’s animated video is all about celebrating Jason’s evolution in a fun, informative way.

Do you have any “non-horror” friends that are interested in the story of Jason but will never watch the films with you? Then here is the cute widdle video from Tell It Animated just for them. You’ll enjoy it too.

You can give the fun video a watch below and then let us know what you think!

Synopsis:

Jason Voorhees has changed a lot since his first appearance in Friday the 13th. From skinny child to hockey mask slasher to rebuilt space Jason and back again, this video goes through his progression.

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