Xan Cassavetes Makes an Un-vampire Movie

Xan Cassavetes didn't set out to make a vampire film. In fact, though her newest film is called Kiss of the Damned, opening today (5/3/13), she's still not convinced she has.

Think of it instead as an obsessive love story, some of whose characters happen to be vampires.

"To me, it's about how you navigate a combination of primal urges and intellectual and moral values," she says, sitting in a West Village coffee shop. "The question is amplified when it's posed with vampires in the world. But they're the questions I live with every day, questions that interest me a lot."

Her vampires are as much about lust as bloodlust, in this story of a woman (Josephine del la Baume) who seduces/is seduced by a screenwriter (Milo Ventimiglia). The relationship -- and perhaps the entire vampire world -- is threatened by the conflict that arises with the arrival of her sister. The film is as much about flesh as blood, and about the power dynamics of sex.

"The movie that influenced me the most - or the two movies - are the two Nosferatus," she says. "I love Werner Herzog's because it has Klaus Kinski and Isabelle Adjani; it's in color, which is so beautiful, with the most amazing sound design and score. It underscores the incredible loneliness of Nosferatu. The vampire movies I embraced as a kid used vampirism as a metaphor that expressed deep sadness and a lot of human qualities."

This interview continues on my website.