A horror comedy in the same vein as Landis’s An American Werewolf in London, but here the director has more to work with.
La Femme Nikita’s Anne Parrilaud stars as Marie, a sexy bloodsucker who takes the life of evil doers to satisfy her thirst. Literally gouging out their throats without fangs and then blowing the head off the corpse to hide the evidence and to stop her kills returning as the undead. The real monster of the movie is scene-stealer Robert Loggia as gangland boss Sal ‘the Shark’ Macelli. He has an unpleasant habit of beating his enemies to death with toasters and makes himself the vampires next victim because of his uncouth approach at womanizing.
The twist is that the vampire doesn’t have the time to decapitate ‘Sal’s’ corpse once she has fed. He wakes up in Frank Oz’s morgue and finds refuge from the daylight in Sam Raimi’s meat freezer. Other famous directors in tow include Tobe Hooper and Dario Argento. Tom Savini and Forrest J Ackerman also join in the fun.
Back to the story and we follow the heroine and her reluctant hero – undercover cop, Anthony LaPaglia – as they try to track down Loggia’s comic opera villain and give him – and themselves – eternal rest!
Like American werewolf, Landis plays with the conventions of vampire lore. There are no religious artefacts on show. Parrilaud’s Cougar-snarling vamp can be stopped by regular bullets and – in the obligatory love scene – romps with elan with the leading man. Everyone in the entire film is given a screen credit including Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, as all the TV’s on show seem to be running various versions of Dracula.
In the final set to, Loggia is set on fire and melts down to blazing cinders before being blown apart by LaPalia’s gun. A great comic moment is the melt down of perrenial con-man Don Rickles, supervised by FX guru Steve Johnson, as he awakes from his undead sleep just as the nurse undraws the curtains to let in the morning sunrise. The biggest thread tying the whole movie together is the sense of fun that everyone seems to be having with the material.
As a send up of both the vampire and gangster genres, Innocent Blood is a classic. Anonymous hero LaPaglia would go on to star in TV’s cop series Without a Trace (2002-2009). The film also provides work for regular gangster goofs, Chaz Palmintero, Kim Coates and Tony Lip while giving a pointless cameo to the versatile Angela Bassett. But for anyone remotely interested in the vampire genre, Innocent Blood is a sure-fire winner!