Directed by Pen Densham
Produced by Pen Densham & John Watson
Written by Stephen Volk & Tom Ropelewski
Director of Photograpy Francois Protat
Music by J. Peter Robinson
Cast: Joana Pacula, Meredith Salenger, Mimi Kuzyk, Nicholas Kilbertus & Jan Rubes

1988/109 mins/Color/Dolby Surround
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment DVD

Screenwriter Stephen Volk may not be a familiar name, but as the writer of Ken Russell's wacky GOTHIC and the British TV sensation GHOSTWATCH, he does have some fine works on his resume. So, who thought it was a good idea to team Volk with Tom Ropelewski, the writer of LOOK WHO'S TALKING NOW to write THE KISS, a weak horror entry from the late 80s.

THE KISS opens in the early 1960s in Africa. Due to illness, a young girl named Felice leaves her father and sister, Hilary, to live with her Aunt Irene (Celine Lomez). While on the train ride, Irene shows Felice a strange African idol and then attacks her. The story then jumps ahead to 1988 and the action shifts to Albany New York (that's right, this movie is too cool for commas!). Hilary (Pamela Collyer) is now grown and lives with her husband, Jack (Nicholas Kilbertus), and their daughter, Amy (Meredith Salenger). However, tragedy strikes when Hilary is killed in an accident. Following this, Felice (Joanna Pacula) arrives and moves in with Jack and Amy. Amy immediately distrusts Felice, who is a fashion model and a spokesperson for a health food company;. When people around her start dying, Amy begins to believe that there is something wrong with Aunt Felice and decides to get to the bottom of it.

THE KISS is yet another low-budget 80s shocker which confuses lack of story and ambiguity for suspense. The story is much like THE OMEN whereas those who get too close to the truth die in horrible accidents. But, we, the audience, never learn the truth. We do know that Felice is evil and that she derives her powers from the African idol procured from Aunt Irene, and that she uses a bizarre cat-like creature to do her dirty work, but that's about it. (Notice the discrepancy between the dialogue and the subtitles when this creature finally meets its demise.) The finale attempts to reveal some explanations, but they don't make much sense (and one can't help but think of THE HIDDEN at the end). The deaths in the movie are telegraphed far in advance and there's never any suspense -- and when they do happen, there is little gore. There are also many plot-holes, such as the constant mentions of the health-food company that Felice works for that never come to fruition -- was she really poisoning Amy.

Overall, the acting in THE KISS isn't all that bad, but the weak-link is Kilbertus. The man must be thinking of something funny, because he is always smiling in the movie. This is a character who has lost his wife and is concerned about his daughter's erratic behavior, but he can't stop smiling. This doesn't come across in a David Lynch-like odd way -- it comes off in a "Why didn't the director tell this guy to stop being so happy he's ruining the movie" kind of way. THE KISS attempts to combine a supernatural story with one of teenage paranoia, but the result is a sloppy mess which we should all remain tight-lipped about.

THE KISS smacks its way onto DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer is sharp, but a great deal of grain has been revealed in the image. While not overly intrusive, the grain is always presents, lying in a fine sheen over the picture. For the most part, the colors are good, but some scenes look a bit washed out. The image is stable and never too dark. Artifacting problems are kept to a minimum, but some video noise is visible in some scenes. The DVD carries a Dolby 2.0 Surround audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects are limited mainly to musical cues and sound effects, but they do add some oomph to the attempted shock scenes. The only extra features on the DVD are bonus trailers for other Columbia horror titles.




No points allowed.


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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©