Sunday, March 23, 2008

Innocent Blood

The Action Mutant…
says….um, CANADA SUCKS!

Innocent Blood

review by Joe Burrows

Simply said, comedy and horror are two genres that are hard to pull off. One is supposed bring mirth and joy to the masses and the other is supposed bring about your greatest fears. Sometimes you can’t tell the difference between the two (Dane Cook?). However, it’s certainly hard to pull both off at the same time. Very rarely has it been done. Is Innocent Blood the best example of this? No. But hey, show me the first funny Dane Cook movie and then we’ll talk. Yeah, I really have it out for the guy.

The Plot, as it was:
Anne Parillaud (La Femme Nikita) stars as Marie, a French vampire that is looking to satiate her appetite with new blood. She decides to go Italian…Italian mobsters, to be exact. Only preying on the scummiest of the lot, Marie unleashes herself onto mob boss Sal Macelli (Robert Loggia) but fails to finish him off completely. This leaves Sal refreshed and wanting to form an army of bloodsucking mobsters that would rule the city (and to consume raw meat and sleep in dark, cold areas…natch). Marie gets paired up with detective Joe Gennaro (Anthony LaPaglia), who has been after Sal and his gang for years. However, when Marie starts falling for him, he has to wonder whether its lust…or bloodlust.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Those knowing of director John Landis’ work will immediately start drawing parallels to his 1981 uber-“Horredy” An American Werewolf in London. Though Innocent Blood falls short of that level, it still stands well on its own. The film manages to excel due to its cast, which includes plenty of mob staples for credibility (Chazz Palmenteri, Rocco Sisto, Tony Sirico and David Proval to name a few). Parillaud expresses that same tough yet tender mettle that brought her to fame in Nikita, as well as the sensuality being in full effect. LaPaglia is the hero so he doesn’t have much to do but his scenes with Parillaud work well in bringing the story some heart. The real fun is seeing Loggia go completely wack-job as the head mobster/vampire. His scenes where he is just discovering his newfound identity are just surreally absurd…which is a total complement. And seriously…who doesn’t think Don Rickles cast as a crooked Jewish lawyer is the best idea ever? It’s meant to be fun and it does deliver…the only thing I felt was that it could have gone even farther at times. Blood strays just slightly from the crazy, balls out vibe put out by Werewolf and the result comes off a notch or two less ambitious. And Angela Bassett, who is usually very capable in any role she’s in, is just embarrassing as a bitchy attorney. She’s only on screen for five minutes or so but it’s an irritating five minutes nonetheless. Other than that, sit back with the popcorn and enjoy the mayhem.

Character/Supporting Actor Sighting!:
- As with nearly all Landis films, many filmmakers show up in cameo roles. Frank Oz is the most noticeable (as the hospital mortician) but there’s also Tom Savini (the paparazzi that gets run off), Michael Ritchie (night watchman), Dario Argento (paramedic) and Sam Raimi (the meat room guy).
- Scream queen Linnea Quigley shows off that particular talent as a nurse.

Body Count/Violence: 11. The Blood in the title is not just a catchy play on words; they actually mean it! Lots of it splashes about, whether it is from bullet hits or neck biting. There’s also broken necks, a cool car/bus crash and the best being Rickles’ demise (trust me, it’s worth it). The SFX for the more elaborate deaths look surprisingly good as well.

Sexuality/Nudity: Parillaud goes full frontal at the start and shows T&A in a sex scene with LaPaglia (it involves handcuffs but don’t get too excited). When not nude, she is in some form of skimpy dress (love the thigh highs!). If you don’t appreciate petite European women, there’s some topless stripper action in a club scene and even some nude cadavers in a morgue.

Language/Dialogue: Well, it’s kind of a gangster film so the language is strong at times. However, no one goes full out Pesci or anything.

How bad was it?:
Critics were favorable to it but didn’t go over the top with praise either. Much of it had to do with comparisons to Werewolf, which is really the one of the ultimate combinations of Horror and Comedy.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Innocent Blood was released by Warner Bros. on 9/25/92 and flopped in 8th place with $1.9 million, behind new arrivals The Last of the Mohicans and Mr. Saturday Night. It didn’t fare much better the next weekend (13th) and was soon out of theaters with only $4.9 million to show for it (no budget figures available). It’s unfortunate that this film hasn’t found much of an audience, unlike Scary Movie 3 & 4. I love America!

Film: ***/*****
Entertainment value: ****/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.

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