Sony // 1988 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 1st, 2004
Pucker up and get ready to die!
This late '80s horror flick brings Dream a Little Dream babe, Meredith Salenger (okay, I recently had to review that movie, so the reference jumps to mind; she was probably in other films) face-to-face with a big, fat dollop of evil that may or may not slaughter all of her friends and family.
We begin in Africa, in the 1960s. Young Felice is stepping onto a train, and bidding farewell to her father and sister. Little does she know she'll soon be the victim of some wacky voodoo malevolence.
On to "present day" (1988) where young Amy is taking her first communion. Amy is happy girl, with loving parents, who lives in a nice home with a pool. However, Amy's world is about to fall apart. For her mom, while walking around downtown, gets smoked by a pick-up truck.
Now it's just Amy and her dad, Jack (Nicolas Kilbertus). But, out of the blue, Amy's elusive aunt, Felice, shows up to lend her emotional support and reconnect with the family she's lost. With her comes a shady past, some interesting "trinkets" from Africa, and a homicidal cat.
Felice (Joanna Pacula) is a spicy little number making her living as a world-famous fashion model. What she brings to her niece's household is far from "spice." Mysteriously (mysterious, of course to everyone except the viewer), people start meeting grisly deaths. It isn't long before Amy and Jack put two and two together and figure out who might be responsible for all this mayhem.
Okay, I'm not going to dance around this. The Kiss isn't that bad of a movie. Sure I had never heard of it until it landed in my mailbox, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. The acting is passable, the kills are creative, the story and pacing work well, and Joanna Pacula is pretty hot.
We know that Felice is somehow connected to all the bad goings-on, but the filmmakers were still able to weave in some enjoyable twists, right up to the end. The climax offers a surprisingly effective final sequence, making even the typical hurry-up-before-time-runs-out device pay off.
Felice is a solid little temptress/villain, and she sows her malice in overt methods (see: cat, homicidal) and subtle tactics (banging the heck out of dad.) Amy is wary of her new aunt, though her friends are caught up in the glitz and glamour. When she finds out her father did the deed with auntie, then, ooh boy, the family structure is thrown into turmoil.
This leads to conflict (most importantly) between daughter and father, but it isn't long before family friend Brenda and Amy's would-be suitor Terry -- a walking '80s fashion nightmare -- are caught in the crossfire. Terry unfortunately takes it pretty hard from the crazy feline, before having an unfortunate run-in with some traffic.
This takes me to the gore factor. Surprisingly gruesome, this flick is. Starting with mom's head-to-head with an out-of-control 4x4, the death scenes leave little to the imagination. The award for most unique disposal certainly goes to Amy's friend Heather (who deserves to be pulverized for her coiffure alone) and her unfortunate escalator mishap. Escalators certainly make for good death-bringers, but the way Heather gets hers receives an A for creativity.
With the disc, Columbia has offered a bare-bones release, with zero extras. At least it's in widescreen.
For gore-hounds, The Kiss delivers -- at least more so than most horror/thrillers. Built upon a half-decent plot, this film may not necessarily be a purchase, but a rental isn't out of the question.
Not bad, and the women aren't hard on the eyes. As an added bonus, valuable life lessons come with the movie: 1) Don't be afraid to ask a relative why she has an evil-looking idol in her suitcase, 2) keep propane tanks prone to malfunction away from the house, 3) rakes are handy to kill mutant cats, and 4) KEEP LONG JEWLERY AWAY FROM THE ESCALATOR, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE!!!!
The defendants are free to go, on the grounds that they produced something relatively decent, on what was surely a non-existent budget.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated R