You liked him in Heroes, swooned over him in Gilmore Girls, and he won't stop breaking your heart in This Is Us. But, hey, remember that time that Milo Ventimiglia was in a vampire movie? Really, though. This might have been something you'd totally missed, because the film dropped back in 2013, three years after he left Heroes. But it's an important movie to re-watch, at least in terms of how our handsome leading man interacts with the women in the movie.
In Kiss of the Damned, he plays Paolo, a screenwriter who falls for hot vampire, Djuna. Just four years after the first Twilight movie, they pretty much replicate that whole plot: Paolo decides to go over to the fanged side after he's seen his lover in her true form. However, unlike in Twilight, where hulking great vampires and werewolves battle to look after the ever-fragile Bella, the women in this movie can look after themselves and it's the male lead who is forced to go through a painful transformation. There's a slightly more unexpected reference here at play, too, though. Given the fact that Paolo is a screenwriter, there are shades of Jess Mariano from Gilmore Girls, the sulky teen who also aspires to be a writer.
Paolo isn't just similar to Jess in terms of occupation, but also in terms of mentality. Like Jess, he's prone to making extremely rash decisions, because why the hell not? The screenwriter's decision to become a vampire isn't something he thinks through with the help of a pros/cons list or goes to talk to a friend about. Instead, he sets his writhing but chained lover free on the spur of the moment so she can give him the Kiss of Death. Honestly, this doesn't feel worlds apart from that time Jess told Rory he loved her and then immediately ran away from Stars Hollow. Doofus.
Although those parallels exist, there's one enjoyable aspect of the character that makes Paolo feel like a breath of fresh air after Jess. Namely, he's not that stubborn. In an interview with The Script Lab about Kiss Of The Damned, Ventimiglia explained that his character in the movie was "a guy who was waiting for his next chapter in his life. He was open to it, and when he was confronted by it, he embraced it fully."
While Rory has to shape her life around Jess, pulling stunts she'd never normally be capable of (skipping school and heading to New York to play hooky with Jess in Season 2's "Lorelai's Graduation Day," anyone?), in the vampire movie, Ventimiglia's character is happy to let his destiny be shaped by the woman he falls for. Not only does Djuna decide what he becomes, but they live in her summer house and it's the arrival of her sister, Mimi, that ushers in a new era of terror. This feels like a breath of fresh air after watching the wonderful but never-not-irritating Jess, who can't seem to tailor his behavior in the smallest possible ways to make Rory's life easier.
But even if the Jess-Paolo parallels and differences don't pull you in, the gorgeous '70s Eurotrash aesthetic should. According to The AV Club, it's a loving homage to vampire sexploitation movies. Perhaps that's why the reviews are more affectionate than damning, despite the 59 percent Rotten Tomato rating. The Philadelphia Enquirer called it "A welcome antidote to the juvenile Twilight series" and "ambitious yet flawed" while The Los Angeles Times spoke approvingly of how "the confident, female-driven sensuality of Kiss of the Damned anchors this handsome nonsense."
So, watch it because you stan for Ventimiglia, because you can't put up with Jess's nonsense anymore, or because old B-movies are extremely your shit. Whatever the reason, it's worth giving this film a viewing if you missed it the first time.