October 7, 2012

Innocent Blood (1992)

"Marie has two appetites, sex and blood. Her career as a vampire is going along fine until two problems come up..."

We're already at the end of the first week of October! Only 24 days left until Hallowe'en! Just to celebrate this momentous occasion even more, I'm going to break one of my golden rules and review a horror-comedy.

"Innocent Blood" isn't a normal, run-of-the-mill horror-comedy though. It's THE horror-comedy which all others have to be judged by. Any more comedic than this and a movie is just a comedy; any more horrific and a movie is pure horror.

As you know, I love vampires even when, just like yesterday's choice, the word vampire is never used in the entire movie. As a big fan of John Landis' "An American Werewolf in London", I had another valid reason to like "Innocent Blood". John Landis can do no wrong either as a director or a human being as far as I'm concerned. Of course, it doesn't exactly hurt that "Innocent Blood" stars the gorgeous Anne Parillaud from "Nikita" (1990), and she's not exactly shy about getting nude either.

Let's get this review started with a nice picture of Anne Parillaud as Marie. Okay, so that's not the nicest picture of her that I could find, but this is "Dr Blood's Video Vault" not "Mr. Skin" so you'll just have to buy the DVD to see her naked.

The R1 DVD which most of us already have is, unfortunately, the full screen budget version in a crappy cardboard case. As far as I know that's the only version still available other than a widescreen R4 version. Australians sometimes get lucky.

Years ago, there was a widescreen laserdisc, but with that media obsolete almost as soon as it came out, if you weren't lucky enough to catch "Innocent Blood" in the cinema then you had no other choice but VHS. I actually bought a big box ex-rental version of "Innocent Blood" from my local Blockbuster in the UK after failing miserably to defeat the Macrovision protection when I tried to copy it from one VCR to another. I wasn't always so law-abiding when it came to boosting my movie collection as I am now.

When I moved to America, I was lucky enough to find an old VHS screener version of "Innocent Blood" in my local pawn shop. It was only a $1 and is probably a rarity itself since such screeners were never meant to be resold. It's in exactly the same ratio as the DVD, of course, and similarly doesn't contain any extras.

But who cares about "Special Features" anyway? While a director's commentary would be nice, most of the fun in "Innocent Blood" comes from spotting the cameos from various directors or trying to guess the movies being shown on the televisions in the background.

There's a story to "Innocent Blood" too, of course, and it's a fairly original one. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but nobody had ever tried to fuse mafia movies with vampires before "Innocent Blood" came out. You just have to smile at the cringeworthy play on words which must have inspired the whole idea of a "Cosa Nosferatu", and actually be amazed that a mainstream studio like Warner Bros. had the balls to run with it.

Basically, the plot is as simple as Marie bites a mafia boss, he turns into a vampire, then together with a cop, she has to stop him from taking over the city with his converted gang of the undead. Everything else is just to fill in the journey from A to B, but what a wonderful journey it is.

"Innocent Blood" has to be one of the most stylish and glossy looking vampire movies ever. The big band music in the background, the opulence of the mafia, and just the general classiness of the whole production makes it seem a lot more expensive than it actually was. "Innocent Blood" isn't exactly a low-budget movie, but it's certainly economical.

The show stealer isn't just Robert Loggia who gives a fantastic performance as Sallie (The Shark) Macelli, but the sheer number of other recognisable "mafia type" actors involved. Chazz Palminteri is every inch the stereotypical Sinatra-loving gangster, Don Rickles is perfect as a crooked lawyer, and even Kim Coates does admirably well as one of the more psychotic-looking hunchmen.

"Innocent Blood" feels like vampires have invaded one of "The Godfather" sequels or clones but with even more violence, profanity and nudity. Fortunately, most of that nudity is provided by a chic French beauty rather than the guys so it's all good.

The only real flaw is that Anthony LaPaglia, who plays Tony the cop, is pretty weak in the acting department and doesn't really create a lot of chemistry with Anne Parillaud. Some would argue that she doesn't really do much better and her accent is a little bit too thick, but I would say otherwise. You have to give her credit for the sex scenes alone.

Inevitably, "Innocent Blood" may be full of blood and some gore, but its slightly lighthearted approach offsets any real horror. There aren't even any jump scares to speak of although attempts are made. Instead, what you have is a nice, almost cosy "horror-lite" action/crime movie which is a worthy follow-up to "An American Werewolf in London" but not quite as perfect.

"Innocent Blood" is still ideal for chillaxing to on a Sunday though and, thus, has made it onto this year's "Hallowe'en Countdown" list.

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