Friday, October 7, 2011

31 Days Of Horror: Day 7: Innocent Blood

Sometimes the mere fact that you haven’t heard about a movie is enough to make you nervous about it. Take Innocent Blood made by John Landis, who is at the very least  semi beloved by the horror community. Why according to Showtime he’s a Master Of Horror. I mean this guy made American Werewolf In London and The Twil- well American Werewolf In London was pretty great anyway. So why have I never really heard of his only other straight horror film?

Turns out that Innocent Blood is unfairly, well not maligned, but ignored. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a lost classic but there is plenty of fun to be had for the genre fan looking for a film this Halloween that they haven’t watched a billion times before.

The film follows Marie (Anna Parillaud fresh from La Femme Nikita) a vampire who doesn’t prey on “innocent blood.” This sounds good in theory but in practice she ends up giving a vicious mobster played by Robert Loggia a bad case of vampirism. This goes about as well as you might expect.

One of the main hang ups that people seem to have about the film is why combine The Gangster film and The Vampire film. Frankly the answer is probably because no one had made a Vampire film set in gangland before. The twist on the genre gives a way for the film’s other lead, Anthoney La Palgia as an undercover cop, to get into the film and doesn’t add much else. It’s not as if Loggia does anything all that special that any other Vampire bad guy wouldn’t do. Well aside from run to his lawyers house first thing anyway.

The film is more character than plot driven anyway. Marie is an intriguing mix between the soulful romantic vampires who so dominate the archetype today and the feral blood feasting predators of yore. Call her the maniac pixie nosferatu.

If we follow the three great scenes, no bad scenes law of what makes a great movie, Innocent Blood is one of those movies that gets about half way there. It does have at least three great scenes; one in which Loggia runs out of the morgue and into a press conference that’s pure Landis anarchy, a sex scene with enough genuine heat that I’m kind of shocked it made it past the American studio system and the MPAA and the film’s greatest creepy moment and gore shot, both which takes Don Rickles as their unlikely subject. If you have ever wanted to see Don Rickles explode like John Cassevettes at the end of The Fury look no further. But it also does have a lot of filler, an intrusive voice over, the cops subplot does slow things up, and there are some strange details (bullets work pretty well against Vampires for some reason).

But while it’s undoubtedly imperfect Innocent Blood is also a lot of fun for any horror or Landis fans. It Includes plenty of Landis’s signature vehicular destruction,  old monster movies (one of the films best running gags is shots of minor characters becoming inappropriately enraptured by old horror films) and cameos (This time including Forrest J. Ackerman, Tom Savini, Dario Argento, the ubiquitous Frank Oz and Sam “The Man” Raimi). Like I said, Innocent Blood won’t change anybody's life. Bu the dedicated genre fan could do worse than to check out this neat little sleeper, despite the fool screen only DVD release (for shame Warner Brothers). 


le0pard13 said...

Great! Glad you looked at this one. Yes, it's not in the same class as AAWiL, but it does have the über-hot Anna Parillaud (and yes, if for nothing else but the scene you speak of). This Landis film is a lot of fun and criminally ignored. It's also still "fool screen" (love your term, and again for shame WB for not delivering it in the correct aspect ratio)! I need to watch this one again. Thanks, Bryce, for your usual enjoyable take on this one.

A hero never dies said...

Always liked this one Bryce, and am looking forward to it receiving the release and recognition it deserves.

Andreas said...

Totally agree with the review and other comments. I watched this last summer, and while it's nothing too special, it's still worth it for Parillaud, Loggia, and Rickles.

In fact, I think it'd make a pretty good double feature with American Werewolf! Same style, same conflict -- supernatural beings entangled in a present-day love story.

Thanks for spreading the word!