Thursday, April 14, 2011

Escalator Kisses

When a non-filmish friend starts talking about a terrifying ‘80s horror involving The World’s Scariest Escalator Scene of All Time, it becomes my duty to seek it out. No cinema civilian is supposed to know something about movies that I don’t!
Hence, 1988's The Kiss.

Quick Plot: A pair of sisters are separated as teenagers in Africa, one of whom goes on to live a normal life with her father while the other gets possessed by the ancient vampiric spirit of the woman charged with watching her. Them’s the breaks!
Flash forward 25 years or so (I don’t know that the math makes great sense) where older sis is a Catholic housewife with a randy husband and sensible teenage daughter named Amy, played by Meredith Salenger (who will always be known as one of my childhood heroines, Natty Gann). As Amy makes her confirmation to a kickass pool party, mom gets a phone call form long lost sister Felice and shortly thereafter, is smashed to death by a truck. Actually, it's more a smashing, then eventual and hilarious loss of leg. Hard to describe, but it's more wonderful than whatever Natty Gann is staring at in the picture below:

A few months later, Amy and her dad are trying to move on when Aunt Felice comes to town in a swirl of chic scarves. She’s something of a sexpot, you see, with one of those exotic accents that tickle men’s funny parts and cause women all around to narrow their eyes with justifiable suspicions. Little by little, Amy discovers that yes indeed, Auntie Cool is some form of horny vampire who can put unusual curses on any mere mortal whose possessions are taken.

This is where The Kiss has its fun and for most nostalgic viewers, leaves the lasting memories. Felice makes some voodoo magic on any of Amy’s pals who seem mildly threatening, including her mallrat best friend (in the aforementioned and understandably memorable escalator scene) and prospective beau, a ponty-tailed, sports jacket over button-up denim wearing mall bakery employee--and yes, there is a LOT of mallage in The Kiss--whose main character quirk is his constant habit of losing his stud. Stud Muffin (because what else can we call him?) gets the pleasure of meeting Felice’s trusted pet, a Fizgig-like Critter thing that likes to bite people’s faces, then back away and scream. It’s adorable.

As is The Kiss, when you think about it. The film is practically watermarked with its 1988 date, from the horrendous fashion choices cursed upon every character to the evil stepmother storyline and possession sprinkles. With a few impressive sequences withstanding, it doesn’t really hold up as a ‘scary’ movie, but I’d be dropping my stud if I didn’t say I I enjoyed it.
High Points
There’s some pretty neat and creative FX at work, with fun, possibly Final Destination inspirational death traps and gooey creature designs during the film’s finale 

Low Points
This was never meant to be Citizen Kane, but there is something off about the basic story pacing of The Kiss. The constant time flash forwards are a tad jarring, and much of the plot development seems to have no real calendar to give us any sort of time context
Lessons Learned
When your nanny introduces herself to your 11 year old daughter with the offer that she is going to teach her how to flirt with doctors, you may want to intervene before she also possesses her body
Oversized sweaters with full body bald eagle prints will drive the male mall crowd WILD

Leopard print, tiger stripes, why choose?

If you’re having difficulty escaping a demonic swimming pool, perhaps you should try moving one foot away to this wacky new contraption call ‘a ladder’
The Kiss is no lost ‘80s gem, but it sure is a good time, particularly for those of and near my generation whose hearts simply soften a few spots when our noses smell hairspray. The DVD is sadly sans extras, so a casual rental should satisfy your curiosity with a few smiles. 


  1. "No cinema civilian is supposed to know something about movies that I don’t!" - that's good shit!

    80's cheese is always worth a watch.

  2. I enjoyed this flick, and found Joanna Pacula rather hot, you couldn't blame the poor guy for giving in to her. The daughter character i found a tad bitchy. All in all, Scary cat puppet emerges as the star of the show.

  3. She is undoubtedly sexy. Funny, I just watched Tombstone and was surprised to see her turn up as Val Kilmer's Hungarian con girlfriend. I have instant sympathy for Meredith Salenger because of Natty Gann, but I kind of like her here too, mostly because her suspicions were totally grounded!

    But hell yes scary cat puppet thing!

  4. THE EAGLE SWEATER! that is definitely what I remember most about this (aside from the escalator massacre). I think it's so funny that both me and your friend vividly remembered this movie because of that particular scene.

    I remember it of course being much more horrific than it actually is, but I think it did at least make me super cautious that my super long necklace was not gettign caught in the escalator.

  5. I was scared off of escalators after a Rescue 911 episode where a kid's zipper got stuck. Even now I get nervous on them. Also, I had a near-death experience in a German airport where I had a whole lot of luggage on a cart going up an escalator (the employee told me to!) and at the top, it would totally have just fallen back on top of me had a kind and quick stranger not intervened. I don't know how I'm still alive. In general.

  6. Has anybody ever done a horror movie about those escalators? I know there's The Lift & Devil, but i can't remember a movie with a moving escalator as the main villain..Its Time!
    Maybe even throw in the scary cat puppet.

  7. ABOUT escalators? Not that I know of, sadly. Much like Death Bed, it's a tad hard to have a large unmoving object as your main villain because you have to realllllly create some contrived situations to keep victims in its path. But hey, escalators are everywhere! What if ALL of them one day became self-aware? It could totally work. I. Am. In.

  8. Oh ya, the escalator! I remember this movie now. It reminds me of a true story that happened to me at the Fresno airport that was pretty horrifying. Let's just say it involved me, an escalator we nicknamed "The Mangler" and a bucket of fingers. Anyway, liked The Kiss, like Meredith Salenger (I follow her on the twitter machine thing) and Joanna Pacula has an interesting fashion sense. Gotta revisit this.

  9. Meredith Salenger tweeted back at me the other day and I almost cried. My affection for Natty Gann never died!

    And jeez, do you still have your fingers? The idea of a bucket is what really makes that story sound horrifying...

  10. Wow, this sounds awesome!
    I never even heard of this movie.

    I'm queuing it right away.

  11. You had me at 'Meredith Salenger'.