Good Vampire Movies: Innocent Blood

Next up for what I hope will be a weekly series until the next installment of Twilight slithers its way on to screen is 1992’s grossly underrated and unfairly overlooked Innocent Blood. This film doesn’t have a UK DVD release, and this strikes me as very strange as this is an excellent film from an icon of horror with a cast that would be universally recognised as superb. Innocent Blood is a sexy, violent, and comical vampire film; an unusual and inventive hybrid in a genre that has been stale for some time.

I’d love to know the background behind this film as I bet that it’s fascinating. John Landis should have been on a career high- he’d had a string of exceptional and revered films in the 1980’s (including the seminal American Werewolf in London), culminating with Coming to America in 1988. Then he made recognised turkey Oscar with Stallone. Following that dog of a film, he returned to his horror (or more accurately horror/comedy) roots with 1992’s Innocent Blood, a film that could quite easily be called “A French Vampire in Pittsburgh”, cast the stunning Anne Parillaud in the lead and drew up one of the finest non Scorsese/ Coppola mafia casts ever assembled.

Innocent Blood opens with a voiceover from Marie, the vampire, and the most gratuitous full frontal seen in a long time. She craves but 2 things: food and sex; but unfortunately her life has taken a turn for the worst due to her “picky” eating habits. She only eats criminals, and as a result, her boyfriend has left her and she hasn’t fed in 6 days. She is depressed, but in one of the many comic lines of the film, tells the audience that “I am starved, it’s time to treat myself. Then I thought…What about Italian?”

This line gives away what this film is about: she’s a vigilante. She’s also a conscientious vampire, and makes sure that there’s no chance of her victims returning from the dead. The film establishes the “rules” clearly- to kill a vampire you must either expose it to sunlight or disable its central nervous system.

Nevertheless, the mafia gang, headed by Sal “The Shark” Macelli, she’s preying on are under investigation and have Police officer Joe Gennaro undercover. He’s forced to come in, just as Marie decides to chow down on Sal himself. She’s interrupted and unable to finish the job- allowing him the chance to come back to life. Shenanigans ensue, the body count mounts, the good guys win, and everyone (aside from Marie because she’s undead) lives happily ever after.

 This is a brilliant film. Innocent Blood is right in Landis’ comfort zone- and if anyone knows how to perform the delicate balancing act that Horror-Comedy requires, then it’s him. He is helped out, in this case, by a genuinely clever and amusing script that manages to marry a traditional vampire story to a modern day mafia tale and sleazy 70’s exploitation. The script absolutely sparkles- every character gets their share of great lines, and there are several absurd set pieces that manage to be both gross and simultaneously hilarious. For example, when Sal wakes up in the morgue, he’s (understandably) distressed. What follows is a comedy chase scene with orderlies pursuing the blood soaked and rotten looking reanimated mafia don up and down stairs. The dialogue in this scene is indicative of the tongue-in-cheek nature of the film- with the bemused orderly telling Sal to “go back in there and lie down”.

There are many other examples of comedy in Innocent Blood, but some of my favourites are supplied by Elaine Kagan as mob lawyer Manny Bergman’s (a hilarious Don Rickles) wife. She wonders around swigging whiskey from the bottle, fainting on cue, screaming when necessary and so forth- and every time she’s comical. Which brings me neatly around to my next point: as good as the script is, it could very easily have fallen flat without the brilliant performances the cast put in. Loggia is psychotically frightening as Sal, LaPaglia looks suitably bemused as Gennaro, and Parillaud is both sultry and strangely vulnerable as Marie. The other support- ranging from Linnea Quigley in a blink and you’ll miss it role or Sam Raimi with 2 lines, through Luiz Guzman as a cop, and Palminteri as cannon fodder are solid and professional with a few of them (notably Rickles) putting in excellent turns.

The effects, however, do let the side down a touch. The Vampire effects consist of various different coloured contact lenses, which is a bit weak (and a bit embarrasing during the sex scene) but aside from that the practical work (particulary when Rickles explodes in sunlight) is superb. There’s gore splashed everywhere in this film- and it’s all done practically and as such still looks good today.

As I’ve briefly touched on, this is a hugely violent film- Sal administers a savage beating with a toaster oven, Marie chews Palminteri to death before blowing his head off with a shotgun, Sal gets through a fair few underlings, Gennaro shoots people, and the film culminates with a spectacular burning. There’s no messing around here- this is a proper violent vampire film.

It’s also a sexy one. Marie and Gennaro are inevitably going to make the beast with two backs, and Parillaud is a gorgeous screen presence. Almost every expression she throws is, and I think deliberately, sultry and sexy looking. She’s also got a commendable dedication to casual nudity that clearly goes above and beyond the call of duty.

I’ve not even touched on the surprising subtleties of this film- Landis has characters in various situations watching the classic Vampire films, for example. It feels as if he made a conscious effort to nail his colours to the mast by associating it with Peter Cushing, Vincent Price et al. He seems to be saying that Innocent Blood is a proper vampire film and belongs in that category- and he’s right.

It’s not a perfect film, and there are some minor flaws in it. It’s an odd hybrid of genres that occasionally doesn’t know what it’s trying to be (the shootout in particular), and if I’m absolutely honest some of it feels a little bit flat. However, these are minor flaws because when one of these scenes happens, another scene (Sal cooking raw meat over the gas and licking it) is coming fast to remind you that this is a fucking horror film, and a damned good one at that.

Overall, would I recommend it? Yes, unquestionably. Innocent Blood is an obscenely overlooked film and more than ripe for rehabilitation. When Landis career is looked back on, this film will be forgotten beneath the likes of American Werewolf, Animal House, The Blues Brothers etc and in comparison to those classics it is a minor film. Nevertheless, on almost anyone else’s CV it would have much higher regard. I for one rate it highly and thoroughly enjoyed reacquainting myself with it yesterday. Innocent Blood is a good film that flirts with greatness and misses by a narrow margin. However, it did at least have the balls to be original, and therfore I give it a well earned 3 Changs.

 

Until next time,

Jarv

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

104 responses to “Good Vampire Movies: Innocent Blood”

  1. kloipy says :

    I’ve never seen this one. But I’ve eard of it before. I do like some of Landis’s stuff so I’ll have to give this a watch. Great review Jarv

    • Jarv says :

      It’s a really, really good film. I saw it when it was released on VHS, and remembered it fondly, so was a bit trepiditious.

      I was more than happy to have it confirmed to be good.

      • kloipy says :

        yeah I felt the same way about Fright Night. Just rewatched that for the first time in ages and I still enjoyed it. Not the greatest film ever but still a lot of fun

      • Jarv says :

        Fright Night is mint. As is Fright Night 2.

  2. Droid says :

    Sounds pretty good. What’s next? Please say it’s Vampire in Brooklyn!!!

  3. Droid says :

    I think I’m the only person on the planet that doesn’t like The Blues Brothers.

    • Jarv says :

      Really?

      I thought everyone liked that:

      ” It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

      Mint.

      • Droid says :

        I have only seen it once and that was a long time ago (although I’ve seen that final chase about 18 thousand times on tv). I don’t know why, I just didn’t think it was funny. It was long. And I was bored.

        Maybe I’ll put it on the “revisit” list.

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah that’s the moive where I see John belushi’s greatness. That scene where he can’t get out of the desk, classic. I need to watch it again. Also Paul Shaffer with hair!

    • DANNYGLOVERS_DICKBLOOD says :

      Blue Brothers blows. Overrated. There are like 3 funny gags in the whole thing.

      • Droid says :

        Yep. Thats what I thought. I was convinced I was missing something. Glad to see someone else on my wavelength.

      • Continentalop says :

        Overrated, yes. Bu blows, I don’t think so. It has got him leaving prison, the Penguin scene, the train by his apartment, the Good Ol Blues Brothers Boys and Rawhide, the Illinois Nazis, a lot of funny gags and lines in it.

        I think you are being excessively hard on it because it is so well loved.

  4. koutchboom says :

    Hmmmm Landi’s wife is in town tonight to talk about her work on Three Amigo’s with a showing…should I go?

    • Jarv says :

      Why not?

      Landis was interesting when he did AWIL- especially about the remake.

      Also- he was in the audience for Splice.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah but its his wife and the theater has a shitty as screen. I may go if I can convience my wife. Maybe if i knew he would be there as well. That’s what I’m hoping for. Plus I haven’t seen 3 Amigos in ages.

      • Jarv says :

        3 Amigos- is that that shit with Martin Short, Chevy Chase and Steve Martin?

        That’s ass.

      • koutchboom says :

        You don’t like 3 Amigo’s???? GAH. I’m gonna use the America excuse on that one as well. I love Three Amigos. That was back before Steve Martin was dead and Chevy Chase wasn’t a walking zombie. Martin Short may still be alive though?

      • Jarv says :

        It’s not funny, flagrantly unoriginal horseshit.

        I put that at the start of Martin’s bad phase.

      • koutchboom says :

        What’s unoriginal about it?

        I’m not trying to start anything, but besides 3 Amigos and Tropic Thunder I don’t know of any movies that have a similar situation? Am I missing some?

      • Droid says :

        The Man Who Knew Too Little.

        I admit I like that film.

        *braces himself*

      • koutchboom says :

        Oh dear god your right….and I fucking HATE HATE HATE that film. Like REALLY HATE IT.

        It’s more then the film though. I mean I hated it, it was unfunny Bill Murray just mugging for the camera for about 4 hours. But I had these fucking obnoxious uber religious neighbors, and that was like their favorite film of all time. Which just solidified its awfulness in my book.

      • Droid says :

        HA! Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me. But I find it amusing and Molina as Boris the Butcher cracks me up.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah if it weren’t for my neighbors I probably wouldn’t give a shit about the movie, or even remember it. In fact I may have given it another chance, but there is no way I will ever enjoy that movie.

      • Jarv says :

        The man with One Red Shoe.

        The whole mistaken identity leading to shenanigans has been done millions of times- even North By Northwest (although that isn’t a comedy).

      • koutchboom says :

        Well yeah, but I’m talking specifically actors being put in that situation, thinking it was a movie or something. That at least makes for an interesting twist on an old idea.

      • DANNYGLOVERS_DICKBLOOD says :

        Three Amigos is fucking gold.

        A fat drunk sweaty Mexican singing along to ‘My Little Chickadee’ in a cantina while the three of them do their gay ass dance in their gay ass outfits….what the fuck is unoriginal about that?

        You know whats really unoriginal– the shit that owes everything Amigos– that dull piece of shit Tropic Thunder.

        Man Who Knew Too Little is also pretty good. Russian dance at the end is fucking kick ass.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Bowfinger’s Big Thing was a twist on putting actors into a situation they didn’t know they were in by putting a single actor in the unknown position; while his cast mates has some but not all knowledge. Bowfinger was also the best movie in this genre.

      • DANNYGLOVERS_DICKBLOOD says :

        Yeah Bowfinger is very good as well….

        So Jarv doesn’t like Chevy, Steve Martin, or Martin Short in the 80s? Fucking really? What the fuck did you find funny in the 80s other than Benny Hill.

      • Droid says :

        Allo Allo. Jarvs loves that shit.

      • Droid says :

        He’s also a massive fan of Open All Hours and Only Fools and Horses.

        They tickle his ribs.

      • Continentalop says :

        I’m with Jarv, Three Amigos sucked. But Blowfinger was damn good.

        And I liked Tropic Thunder – just not as funny as people make it out to be.

      • koutchboom says :

        I’m telling you Roy Chubby BROWN!!

      • Jarv says :

        Fuck the lot of you.

  5. Stuntcock Mike says :

    This movie was never on my radar.

    Weird, I’m a Landis fan.

  6. koutchboom says :

    I rememeber seeing this box at the video store (hahahh remember those?) all the time as a kid. I had never heard of it and thought it was some lame B-movie. Like just HOW low did Landis become after The Twilight Zone movie and The Stupids?

  7. koutchboom says :

    Also juding from those pictures it looks like a B-movie, does it have that vide during the film?

    • Jarv says :

      No- it really doesn’t feel like a B-movie. If anything, it feels closest to AWIL.

      This is not a B-movie, honestly.

      • koutchboom says :

        well you’ve sold me I’m gonna hunt this down.

      • Jarv says :

        It’s got a lot of touches that remind me of AWIL. It isn’t as good as that, but there’s stuff in it like them all watching classic vampire films on TV that feels like it could have been in AWIL.

        Don’t watch it with Mrs. Koutch- trust me on this. Mrs. Jarv was seriously unimpressed by the full-frontal (including muff) that you see before the fucking credits finish rolling. Completely gratuitous and therefore awesome.

        Although it did grow on her, she was not impressed initially. It took the Palminteri murder to change her position.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah I figured as much with the shots up above.

  8. Jarv says :

    No love for the boob cover? I thought it was inspired. I’m using the count for every boob cover that I have to do with these (which could be a lot).

  9. kloipy says :

    Jarv, are you going to do Coppala’s Dracula? I’d like to see your take on that one

    • Jarv says :

      I’ve got it at home, and I don’t like it. However, Mrs. Jarv loves it, so I’m going to be brave and give it a spin. The problem is that it’s already got the Vampire as romantic hero tripe in it that poisoned the genre- it’s basically a ridiculously overblown love story.

      And I don’t like period dramas. I’ll give it a shot, and try to be open minded, but really- Sadie fucking Frost? The Coke Whore of Primrose Hill?

      • kloipy says :

        LOL yeah I don’t like it either. I mean it does have some moments that are interesting and it’s all very campy but it’s like so bad that it is at least entertaining

      • kloipy says :

        and it also has MOnica Belluci’s tits in it so that’s at least worth for some points

      • koutchboom says :

        I just watched it recently. Its good. The score is fucking bad ass as well. It’s WAY trippy for a period drama. Its just bizare. I like it.

      • Jarv says :

        Bloody Keanu’s accent in it is atrocious.

        Christ, could they not have found an English Harker or an American that can play an English accent?

      • Stuntcock Mike says :

        Jarv, how about Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre?

      • Jarv says :

        I don’t remember La Bellucci in it at all. Is she one of the Vampirettes that drains Keanu dry?

        I’m tempted to go back and dig up some sleazy Italian Vampire stuff from the 70’s. There’s one in particular with a female vampire who “sucks the lifeforce out in the jism” that I remember being absolutely hilarious.

      • Jarv says :

        Herzog’s is something on the list.

        As is that one with Willem Defoe in it- Mask of the Vampire or whatever it’s callled.

        I was also toying with doing John Carpenters one.

      • kloipy says :

        Yes Jarv, she’s one of the Vampire brides. Ryder is terrible in it too.
        Herzog’s Nosferatu is incredible.
        Are you doing any of the Hammer films?

      • Droid says :

        Shadow of the Vampire is the one with Dafoe (I think). It’s pretty good.

      • Jarv says :

        A few

        The thing is, most of the Hammer films are actually terrible- I’m doing one of the seminal cushing ones and probably Countess Dracula (always good for a laugh).

        I am doing The Beast Must Die! for the vault at some point.

      • Continentalop says :

        You don’t know what you are talking about Jarv. Hammer vampire films rock. Especially Countess Dracula.

      • Jarv says :

        Not all of them- but most of them. Countess Dracula, for example, is fucking hilarious.

        I like them as a rule, but a lot of them aren’t terribly good- they’re schlock, also the later ones are borderline soft core porn. I think I prefer the Frankenstein Hammer films.

        I was thinking about doing The Fearless Vampire Killers, and then I remembered Polanski directed it and don’t want to open that can of worms.

      • Continentalop says :

        Treat yourself to Captain Kronos. You’ve earned it.

      • Jarv says :

        I’ve never seen that- and it’s got Caroline Munro in it. That goes in the must see list.

      • Continentalop says :

        You’ve never seen Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter? For some reason I thought you did.

        If I had know that I would have suggested it awhile ago. Great, fun movie.

  10. Jarv says :

    Or another excuse to revisit Lifeforce.

  11. Droid says :

    I like Coppolas Drac.

  12. kloipy says :

    Monica- has a black censor bar so, but still possibly NSFW

  13. Droid says :

    What about Interview?

  14. Droid says :

    You do realise that by beginning this series you have committed yourself to finishing the series off by reviewing ALL THREE Twilight films (which means you need to see the next one at the cinema).

  15. Stuntcock Mike says :

    Saw Herzog’s version a few years ago in this little theater. They fucked up and got the German only print, no subs.

    Didn’t matter at all, it’s a thing of beauty to look at.

  16. herr milflover says :

    I loved Innocent Blood when it came out in theatre… and reading this I now want to go buy it.

    John Carpenter’s Vampire wasnt a bad movie, the problem is that the first half hour (where we’re introduced to James Woods and his gang, then the head vampire violently tearing thru the motel) was so fucking awesome that the rest of it just didnt measure up, and I thought the needing was really lame.

    Coppo’s Dracula I didnt like. Visually it was superb, the opening bit with Drac’s origin killing people and putting their heads on spikes was neat. and Hopkins as Van Helsing was great, but everything else just didnt do it for me. Belluci boobs is a plus although at the time she wasnt known so not as appreciated. I may have to rewatch both of these someday.

    Also, Blues Brothers is one of my favorite comedies ever.
    I liked Three Amigos too back then but havent seen it in years, the only time I liked Chevy in anything. If you have the chance to see it on a big screen -even a shitty one- with Landis’ wife there I say go for it.

  17. Continentalop says :

    Not to pull out a really old one, but have you ever seen Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr? Very interesting movie.

  18. ThereWolf says :

    Not seen Innocent Blood. Shall try to rectify that ASAP.

    So, if you’ve got a movie still going into your review featuring blatant jugs – it’s got to be censored?

  19. DocPazuzu says :

    Yep, I love Innocent Blood too. Loggia steals the show big time.

    Beware, however, as the American release has been cut (handcuffs during sex scene kerfuffle) to achieve an “acceptable” rating. Also, it’s fucking fullscreen.

    Best way to see it? The Australian R4 DVD, which is both uncut and in glorious widescreen, baby. It’s still being seeded at you-know-where.

    • Jarv says :

      Loggia is fucking hilarious in this. Honestly, the scene where he’s saying to Manny “but you smell so good” is just comic gold, as is the cooking the raw meat on the gas and licking it.

      My source wasn’t youknowwhere as my ratio was fucked, so I went to the internets and got a VHS rip of the UK copy.

      It was full-screen, but uncut, so I can deal with it.

      I cannot believe they cut the handcuffs from the sex scene- that fucks it up completely.

  20. xiphos0311 says :

    I barely remember this movie, I guess I should give it another go.

  21. lordbronco says :

    Goddamn it-let the Right one In was the best vampire flick since “‘Salems Lot”.

    I’m sure people were/are aware of this fact, so I will also say.

    Nothing.

    Other than I will have to check out this particular motion picture.

    Also, the new Sookie Stackhouse book came out yesterday.

    Non-Fans of Anna Paquin need not apply rto this post.

    • Jarv says :

      True Blood is exactly the sort of thing that this series is an antidote for. I’ve read 8 of them and they fucking suck ass horribly. Only book 4 was remotely acceptable.

      • DocPazuzu says :

        I tried watching True Blood, I really did, but I find utterly wretched. It’s mind-boggling to me that you managed to read eight of the novels. Perhaps they’re better than the show but the show is so terrible that the books have become radioactive to me, killing whatever curiosity I may have had. It’s just Twilight for adult Renaissance Faire chicks who think they project sophistication by reading them.

      • Jarv says :

        Fucking hated it. I bought all 8 books for £10 and I’d heard that they are much better than the TV programme. They aren’t.

        She goes from shagging the Undead, to shagging Were-tigers (FFS).

        I was ill and in bed for 2 days and read all of them then. Just complete and utter shit.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Jarv you will really hate that they brought Bill back into play. At least that’s what it seems like she did at the end of the last book, which might have been the best one of the series.

        I know that isn’t saying much but for a True Blood book it was sexually twisted and the gore and violence level was through the roof and for once all the characters had real believable motives for their actions.

  22. MORBIUS says :

    How about EMBRACE OF THE VAMPIRE w/ Alyssa Milano?

    Or…

    MERIDIAN: Kiss of the Beast w/ Charlie Spradling?

  23. koutchboom says :

    Just got around to watching the trailer for this. I recognized the main actress from Map of the Human Heart which I would call an underrated film. From the director of What Dreams May Come. Its an interesting love story, and a great looking film too. Needs a little restoration treatment for a new DVD. But it has that good practical look of the late 80/early 90s.

  24. Vampire Game Room says :

    I forgot about this movie I saw it so long ago. I remember it being pretty good though. It’s too bad the main character wasn’t better looking though hahahahaha.

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