The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

INNOCENT BLOOD (1992) *** ½

Anne (La Femme Nikita) Parillaud stars as a French vampire in Pittsburgh who takes a bite out of crime by draining a bunch of gangsters of their blood and then blowing their heads off with a shotgun.  When she goes to put the bite on big crime boss Sal “The Shark” (Robert Loggia), she doesn’t get to finish him off and he becomes a volatile wild-eyed bloodsucker.  He then turns his crew of wiseguys into vampires and it’s up to the Frenchie broad and her cop boyfriend (Anthony LaPaglia) to kill off all the vampire gangsters.


John Landis is one of my all time favorite directors so I may be a little biased when I say that Innocent Blood is one of the best bloodsucker movies of the 90’s.  Landis has always been accused of having a flat style but I’d like to think of his style as an invisible one.  His style never calls attention to itself and the movie works because of this.  Landis has confidence in the material and presents it in a matter-of-fact way.  If he filmed the movie like a straight-up comedy, it would’ve been a disaster.  He knows the concept of vampire gangsters is absurd but never once beats the audience over the head with it.  The movie IS really funny too and the reason it works is that Landis allows the humor to come from the situations and characters' reactions.  He also films the more horrific scenes with dead seriousness and nearly all of them are effective.  I was especially impressed with the opening scenes of the film where Landis detailed Parillaud’s routine of stalking and killing her prey as well as the scenes that show Loggia’s viciousness (like when he clobbers a guy with a toaster oven).


Speaking of Loggia; here’s an actor that I think never really got his due.  You’ve seen him on countless TV shows and movies and he’s always been a classy performer.  In Innocent Blood, he gives an incredible performance that borders on operatic and gets some really great dialogue to chew on like, “I can hear an angel fart!”


Parillaud is just okay in the lead role.  What she lacks in the acting department, she makes up for with her body, as she shows it off every chance she gets.  Her sex scene with LaPaglia involving a pair of handcuffs is pretty hot and kinky and is a lot more erotic than anything seen in Basic Instinct, which came out the same year.


The hyper-color eye effects are pretty cool but it’s the special effects of vampires turning into ash when they get hit with sunlight that are the most memorable.  I still can’t figure out how they did that shit.  Credit Steve (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4) Johnson for some truly stellar work there.


Innocent Blood is a great companion piece to Landis’ An American Werewolf in London and it makes you wish the man did more horror movies (his episodes of Masters of Horror notwithstanding).  As with that film, Landis uses pop songs for ironic effect.  This time it’s mostly Sinatra tunes (like “I’ve Got You Under My Skin) and while it doesn’t work quite as it did in Werewolf, it’s still enough to put a smile on your face. 


As with any Landis flick, Innocent Blood features a lot of cool cameos by directors such as Tom Savani, Sam Raimi, Frank Oz, Michael Ritchie and Dario Argento.  We also get fleeting glimpses of Linnea Quigley as a screaming nurse and Playboy centerfold turned XXX star Teri Weigel as a stripper too.  And plus, you just have to love that swinging score by Ira Newborn.


To sum up, Innocent Blood is a criminally underrated vampire flick that deserves to be better known.  Bram Stoker’s Dracula came out the same year and stole a lot of this movie’s thunder, but Innocent Blood holds up a lot better and lends itself more to repeat viewings.  While the pacing is way too uneven and the film goes on far longer than it should’ve, any movie in which Don Rickles blows up is still top notch entertainment in my book.  


Innocent Blood has enough laughs, cool effects and scenes of Parillaud naked to land it on the Video Vacuum Top Ten of 1992 at the Number 6 spot; just above Batman Returns and right below the excellent Charlie Sheen biker picture, Beyond the Law.


AKA:  A French Vampire in America.

Tags: comedy, horror, i, landis, linnea, vampires
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