Ah, John Landis. He’s created some great films – by no means all of them, and by all means not all horror – but he’s often had to see decent work like American Werewolf in London bomb at the box office, despite steadily gaining a reputation in the years that followed. Innocent Blood is a decent film which, essentially, sank. This is unfair. Whilst it’s not a world-beater of its kind, it’s a competent horror-comedy which has a good idea at its core. I can’t help but wonder what would have become of it had not Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula come out in the same year.
Vampire Marie (Anne Parillaud) is a bloodsucker with a conscience – something we’re now fairly well-immured to in more recent vamp cinema. She scouts for immoral and cruel people to feed upon, hence deciding against undercover cop Joe (Anthony LaPaglia) in favour of the mob boss he’s currently trying to rumble – Sallie (The Shark) Macelli. But Marie is unable to take Sal’s life when she feeds (leading to a hilarious waking-up-on-the-autopsy-table scene) so she desperately tries to track him down to finish the job. Once Sal works out what’s happened to him though, he wants all his henchmen to be ‘made men’ – the kind you can’t kill so easily! Meanwhile Joe has to overcome his fear and begrudgingly decides to help Marie; no one wants an undead mafia after all…
This is a decent idea for a plot, and one that never gets too heavy; it’s a light-touch piece of film, played mainly for laughs, but with the odd dose of grue and even a bit of nudity thrown in. The mob guys are somewhat caricatured (well, as I see it – I’m not really familiar with any real-life examples!) but equally, Sal is capable of enough nastiness to make him a threatening prospect. Fans of The Sopranos might also notice some elements and at least one actor (Tony ‘Paulie’ Sirico) from that later series.
I have to say, I was surprised to see when this film was made; although it’s from the early 1990s, to me it screams 1980s in its costumes and sets. It has dated pretty well though, and the humour holds together just fine. It’s a shame this film isn’t better-known: it is worth more attention than it has received.
Also, horror geeks will enjoy a multitude of cameo appearances: I spotted Dario Argento, Linnea Quigley and Forrest J. Ackerman!