ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 1, 1992
By Steve Newton
1992 hasn’t been a banner year for horror movies. There hasn’t been anything near as fine as last year’s The Silence of the Lambs in the glut of Stephen King-related/-ripped off losers like The Lawnmower Man and Pet Sematary Two. But things are looking up with the frightening and very funny Innocent Blood, a “flesh and blood” horror flick in the best sense of the term.
La Femme Nikita’s Anne Parillaud toplines as Marie, a sexy vampire in modern-day Pittsburgh who won’t drink the “innocent blood” of good folks, but greets the prospect of gorging herself on the life fluid of bad guys with rabid enthusiasm. After reading newspaper headlines about a brutal Mafia gang war, she decides to eat Italian, but her gangster-munching goes awry when she’s caught sucking on underworld boss Sal Macelli (Jagged Edge’s Oscar-nominee Robert Loggia).
Because Marie had to run and didn’t have time to remove Macelli’s head from his shoulders, he becomes a vampire and soon discovers that being undead is the best thing that’s ever happened in his ruthless career. He quickly sets out to turn the rest of his cruel comrades—including an attorney played by Don Rickles—into bloodsuckers like himself, intent on making his gang more powerful and deadly than ever.
Undercover cop Joe Gennaro (Whispers in the Dark’s Anthony LaPaglia) falls in love with Marie while investigating the bloody chain of events, and the two join forces to track down and exterminate the bad vamps. Along the way, director John Landis juggles the romantic, comic, and scary elements of the film with the same outlandish style he brought to 1981’s An American Werewolf in London, but pushes the sex and violence to higher bounds.
Parillaud’s impressive physical attributes are given free reign, as are the special make-up effects skills of Steve Johnson, whose previous work on flicks like Videodrome and the upcoming Hideous Mutant Freaks prepared him well for the grisly job at hand.
Cameo appearances by terror icons Dario Argento, Sam Raimi, and Tom Savini help make Innocent Blood a hoot for horror fans, but you don’t have to be a gorehound or a vampire lover to get a kick out of the film’s virulent mix of guts and guffaws.
It’s just a bonus.