From The Desk Of The Kellys: “Kiss Of The Damned”

Whenever Jeff Kelly takes a break from piloting Seattle’s Green Pajamas on their world tour of uncharted psych/pop waters, he likes to collaborate vocally with a woman. Until now that person has been GPJ alternate lead singer Laura Weller in a partnership called Goblin Market. Kelly didn’t have to venture far from the home fires for his most recent female vocal foil. With his wife Susanne as an equal partner, the pair has come up with By Reckless Moonlight (Green Monkey), a little gem that visits places no Jeff Kelly LP has been before. Susanne may insist she’s not really a singer, but her voice knows just the right moves to counterbalance Jeff’s ethereal sound from a previous lifetime. The Kellys will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

Kiss

Jeff: I would venture to guess that most true Green Pajamas fans are aware of my often gothic leanings—specifically toward the 19th-century Gothic Revival period—some favorite books being Dracula, Wuthering Heights, J.S. LeFanu’s Carmilla and Uncle Silas, and the ghost stories of M.R. James. I’ve written songs featuring little girl ghosts, vampires and witches, if not always in an altogether positive light, certainly in a romantic one. I’ve seen just about every British film adaption of Henry James’s The Turn Of The Screw and liked, if not loved, them all. Oddly enough, I especially liked The Innocents, a rather bigger budget Hollywood version of that intimate, creepy story, beautifully presented in black and white. I love this film and have seen multiple times. (Our new kittens are named after the children, Miles and Flora.)

So, naturally, I had to try the film Kiss Of The Damned, directed by Xan Cassavetes, which I tuned in on Netflix. Admittedly, the first night we turned it on, I fell asleep within the first 15 or 20 minutes. (I confess though, the alcohol had been flowing rather freely that night and I was a bit sleepy going into it.) So, I’m not sure what got into me, but a few nights ago I suddenly felt I wanted to give this movie another chance. Wasn’t this the kind of shit I’m always looking for?? How could it be so bad it put me to sleep??? I had slept in till 9 a.m. (I’m usually up by six on the weekends.) That night I had a little extra energy going. So I tuned it again, and the result was very different. I loved, loved loved, it! (Moral: Hold off drinking till you hit the “Play Film” button and you should be fine.)

I grew up on drive-in movie fare and chopped-up movies on late night television: Hammer Horror was just a regular part of my childhood, not yet legendary. Of course, much later, as an adult, I began to really appreciate that whole film genre anew: The Vampire Lovers, anything with the fabulous Christopher Lee, Countess Dracula, etc., etc., etc. Kiss Of The Damned pays a tribute to that scene as well as the drive-in 1970s horror stuff that maybe, say, Quentin Terantino might use as inspiration, but also to Dario Argento, whose wildly technicolor Suspiria was a masterpiece in a more 20th-century gothic tradition. (I played a gig once wearing my Suspiria T-shirt and was asked by some drunk guy in the bar, “You’re being ironic, right?” as he pointed to my chest. I said, “Suspiria is one of my favorite movies. What do you mean by ironic?”)

One might ask me the same about Kiss Of The Damned and I’d have the same answer. I already want to watch it again. It has a terrific, sexy cast, who, thankfully, do not look like Hollywood movie stars. The main character (actress Josephine de La Baume), a vampire, is sooooooo sexy in her relatively ordinary beauty and modest countenance. Her kind lover is wonderful, her bad sister is (more than) appropriately evil and their housekeeper is pitch-perfect. But for me, the knock out was Anna Mouglaslis as the reformed blood countess character, leading the put-upon vampire community. She is, ultimately, the most sensuous and, gloriously dark part of the proceedings, the film nearly ending with her caught in an Anne Rice-like moment of pure decadence I didn’t see coming …

Video after the jump.