The holidays are almost upon us, which means one thing: lots of weird superstitions involving sprigs of vegetation and mandatory kissing. Which is weird. But it could be worse—those kisses could actually kill you. Just check out these kisses of death from science fiction and fantasy!
Kitana’s Kiss of Death in Mortal Kombat
The 10,000 year-old Princess Kitana mostly relies on her trusty steel fan to slice through opponents like bursting party poppers, but once she has an opponent on the ropes, she’ll finish them off with a unique finishing move: The Kiss of Death! Removing her bandana mask, she kisses an opponent, causing them to swell up like a water balloon, before suppurating like a lanced cyst. Talisa Soto plays her in the movies!
Trantor in Ernest Scared Stupid
In Ernest Scared Stupid, the fifth film to star Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell (the blue collar Pee-Wee Herman) a troll named “Trantor” is freed from inside the oak tree that has imprisoned him for hundreds of years. Now free, Trantor uses his magic to turn children into wooden dolls, and he plans to awaken his troll brethren to do the same.
Luckily though, Eartha Kitt is in this movie playing “Old Lady Hackmore”. She tells Ernest that a ”mother’s care” is the key to the troll’s defeat.
Kenny—one of the kids in the movie—decides this could mean that milk hurts the monsters, so Ernest and company raid the dairy section of a supermarket and load up their Super Soakers.
It should be mentioned that this is one of those odd, well-studied bits of the movie that shows the Ernest team were concerned, at least somewhat, with mythological and historical accuracy. According to legend, leaving an offering of milk on your doorstep works as a ward against brownies, imps, goblins and other species of European household spirits, forcing them to seek mischief elsewhere. In the text of Ernest Scared Stupid, and indeed the Ernest ouevre as a whole, milk causes trolls to die from within and melt into bony heaps of boiling skin. (Earlier in the film, Ernest delivers a monologue on Botswana’s defeat of the Ottoman Empire!)
But when milk proves to be ineffective against head-troll Trantor, Eartha Kitt reveals what she really meant by “a mother’s care”: the only way to truly defeat Trantor is with the power of “unconditional love”.
Understanding this, Ernest dances with Trantor, tells him exactly how much he appreciates him, then gives him a big, impassioned kiss on his sopping, oily lips. Naturally, this causes Trantor’s head to explode, violently, into a cloud of powdery black fragments.
Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
Featuring an ambiguously closeted protagonist, the second Nightmare on Elm Street has invited some interesting subtextual analysis over the years. In the film, Freddy Krueger intends to hijack the body of teenager Jesse Walsh, and seems to selectively emerge each time he’s alone with his girlfriend, Lisa.
Jesse only gets the strength to fight back against Freddy at the end of the film, when Lisa finally manages to kiss him. This causes Freddy to melt, ghoulishly.
When Attitude magazine asked about the film in 2010, Robert Englund was quoted:
“The second Nightmare on Elm Street is obviously intended as a bisexual themed film. It was early ‘80s, pre-AIDS paranoia. Jesse’s wrestling with whether to come out or not and his own sexual desires was manifested by Freddy. His friend is the object of his affection. That’s all there in that film. We did it subtly but the casting of Mark Patton was intentional too, because Mark was out and had done Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.”
Years later, actor Mark Patton, who plays Jesse is the film, wrote a diary documenting the character’s coming out following the events of the film!
The Rowdyruff Boys from Powerpuff Girls
Created by the mentally enhanced chimp Mojo Jojo after reasoning the best way to combat the Powerpuff Girls— made of sugar, spice, and “everything nice” (with a dose of secret ingredient Chemical X) – would be a male counterpart. Snips, snails and puppy dog tails were the ingredients chosen to create the nastiest little boys. While the Powerpuffs were at the mercy of the three “Rowdyruffs”— Butch, Brick and Boomer— for the duration of their introductory episode, the girls received some helpful advice from Ms. Sarah Bellum:
“Girls. You have what boys fear most. Try being…nice.”
The Powerpuff Girls knew what they had to do: in order to defeat the Rowdyruff Boys, they had to kiss them flirtatiously. This caused the boys, humiliated, to explode in black flame and blue electricity, disassembling into their component elements.
Cypher on Beware the Batman
Poison Ivy is known for her toxic kiss—and Michelle Pfeifer’s Catwoman famously uses her feminine wiles to kill the villainous department store manager Max Schreck in Batman Returns—but a more recent example appeared on the late Beware the Batman animated series.
Cypher, a villainous cyborg under the employ of Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins, manages to mentally link himself with Batman, Kitana, and Dr. Jason Burr through a network of neon green cables. Realizing that each blow Batman deals Cypher affects each of them equally, Kitana kisses Dr. Burr. The ensuing arousal felt by Burr/Cypher gives Batman the opening to stab Cypher in the neck, overloading his senses.
Puna and Tanga in Invasion of the Star Creatures
Dr. Puna and Professor Tanga, two statuesque aliens from the planet Kalar commanding an army of seven-foot tall vegetable monsters, arrive on Earth with the intent to conquer. Regrettably, they are defeated by the bumbling army men, Privates Penn and Philbrick, after they introduce to them the concept of kissing—a foreign concept on their native homeworld of Kalar. The sensation proves to be so incapacitating and pleasurable, the alien women enter trance-like states and agree to become their submissive wives. (It’s a comedy.)
The Phages in Sailor Moon
Created from Star Seeds, the Phages were a subset of Sailor Stars who infected host bodies like bacteriophages. And the Sailor Scouts could only eliminate the virus with a finishing move: The Starlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss! It essentially bleaches the infection, removing the bizarre, monstrous personage that has overridden the host body. Later in the series, the alternative Silver Moon Crystal Power Kiss is called upon when the threat demands it.
The Aliens of Species & Lifeforce
While the gorgeous Mathilda May famously sucks the titular “Lifeforce” from her prey with a battery of soul-sucking kisses, Natasha Henstridge’s feminine alien, Sil, kills with the power of her deadly, piercing tongue—right through the back of your skull!
Virgil Incanto from The X-Files
A “lonely hearts” killer with a rare medical disorder that prevents him body from storing fat, Virgil Incanto lures plus-sized women on dates, then kills them by sucking out their precious lipids orally. Thought to be responsible for the disappearances of 47 women, Virgil shows no remorse, and is assumed to have died from his affliction in prison.
Top image: Breathtaker from DC Comics, about a genetically engineered succubus who drains men’s life force. Not exactly a deadly kiss, but pretty close. Art by Mark Hempel.