innocent blood | john landis | michael wolk | anne parillaud | anthony lapaglia | robert loggia | vampire | vampires | action | comedy | crime | romance | united states | frank oz | tom savini | kim coates | marshall bell | sam raimi | dario argento | linnea quigley
Film: Innocent Blood
Director: John Landis
Writer: Michael Wolk
Starring: Anne Parillaud, Anthony LaPaglia and Robert Loggia
This was a film that I feel like I saw the poster, but never actually saw this film while growing up. I was definitely excited to check this out when I realized that John Landis was the director, as I grew with An American Werewolf in London. Plus I know that he’s a master of horror, even though he really has a limited sample of films that he’s made. The synopsis for this is Marie (Anne Parillaud) is a vampire with a thirst for bad guys. When she fails to properly dispose of one of her victims, she bites off more than she can chew and faces a new, immortal danger.
For this we begin with meeting our main character Marie. We get some voice-over narration from her as she tells us about how she hunts. At this time we don’t know, but she is actually a vampire. She sees in the newspaper about a mobster name Sallie ‘The Shark’ Macelli.
It then shifts to a few guys meeting outside of a restaurant. There is Lenny (David Proval), Joe Gennaro (Anthony LaPaglia) and Gilly (Rocco Sisto). Gilly goes to speak and he’s told the place is wired. He is then taken to the basement where he meets with Sallie (Robert Loggia). He is really upset about what Gilly and his guys in the warehouse are doing. He beats up Gilly and Joe tells him to calm down. Sallie then tells Joe to shoot him, but he doesn’t do it. Sallie does it himself and then threatens Joe about not disobeying again.
Outside Joe takes his rage on a police van. He then bumps into Marie, but we hear her say that isn’t what she is looking for. She then encounters Tony (Chazz Palminteri). He almost hits her with his car and when she freaks out; he gets out and calms her down. The two go to a secluded spot and we see what she really is. She drinks his blood and then shoots him in the head with a shotgun.
Joe shows up the next morning at the crime scene. This causes a U.S. attorney Sinclair (Angela Bassett) to go off on him. She threatens to take him off the case, but relents that they have enough with his testimony to put away Sallie.
Sallie is irate when he learns the truth about Joe. When going to his car, he sees Lenny talking to Marie. Sallie takes her home instead. It is there that she attacks him, but he shoots her. This draws the attention of Lenny and she can’t finish the job. Everyone thinks that Sallie is dead, but we soon learn that isn’t the case. Joe also shows up to the crime scene and knows that she is the one doing all this. He hunts her down to figure out what she is, it isn’t quite what he expected and when they learn about Sallie, they have to stop him before its too late.
Now I have to say, the first thing that really struck me about this film is how much it is like the television show and graphic novel Dexter. It actually makes me wonder if they borrowed from this. We have a vampire with morals. She only hunts bad guys and there is even voice-over narration like on that show. I was a big fan of Dexter and I think that it actually works here as well.
Something else that struck me is that he film takes place in Pittsburgh. I found this to be slightly odd as I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of the Mafia being located there. I feel the location was selected because that is where they’re filming. Instead of pretending this is New York, they just decided to go fictional that it is a rougher city than what it is. I really don’t have any issues there, but something that really kind of threw me off. They did select some really good locations around the city for sure. I should point out, that when Joe flips he is called a snitch and the villains are irate. It is just kind of ironic that these criminals are upset with a good guy doing something that morally is a bit off.
I do like the vampires in this film. The first one I should cover has to be Marie. It is quite interesting that we have a French vampire living in Pittsburgh. What I love about her character is that she uses her sexuality to her advantage. Seeing her sweet talk Dave Flinton (Leo Burmester) and Morales (Luis Guzmán) is great. She really does disarm them and they don’t believe she is capable of what Joe is claiming. I love the change in the eyes of the vampires. It gives off such an animalistic look and it is quite unnerving at times. I love that garlic bothers them, since most of the villains are Italian. This is a staple of their diet. They’re also killed by sunlight. It is interesting as well that they can be killed by conventional means, at least with breaking necks and gunshots to the head. Marie states early on that severing the spinal column is a way to kill them.
The last thing about the story to cover is the idea of a mafia of vampires. I don’t mind the concept in theory. I will admit that this film gets a little cheesy about it. In An American Werewolf in London, I think that film balances comedy and horror very well. My only real gripe here is that they focus on the love story between Joe and Marie, instead of the actual villainous vampires. It almost feels like a Universal film where they come so late in the film, we really don’t get much of that. I think the love story between the two builds at a good pace, but I just found it to be the less interesting story to be honest.
As to the pacing of the film, I think the film does run a bit long. When I saw it was nearly two hours I was a bit shocked. I started to think of things that possible could be cut and by the end I really couldn’t find anything. I understand the things that we are shown here and the implications of it all in the end. I also thought the end of the villain was a bit anticlimactic for my taste. It does build the necessary tension though, especially what Sallie does when he gets to the strip club.
Something I’ve been excited to cover is the acting which I thought was really good. Parillaud is amazing in this film. She is so beautiful, yet vicious. Her body is also amazing and I just fell in love with her and her performance. LaPaglia I thought was solid as the male counterpart to her. He is a bit wooden, but I think that is the role as an undercover he has to play. Loggia is a guy I’m a big fan of. He does overact here at bit, but I think it fits the tone of the film. This film has a ton of cameos as well. We get a bunch of guys from The Sopranos. They’re all great and they play these roles so well. I do want to give shout outs as well to Kim Coates, Marshall Bell, Bassett, Don Rickles, Tom Savini, Frank Oz, Guzmán, Sam Raimi, Dario Argento and even Linnea Quigley. I do find it hilarious that the credits also list Dan Quayle, Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee from archive footage. This cast just does a really good job at bringing this all to life.
Something that was great for me was the effects of the film. I absolutely love the eyes when those that are turned into vampires. They glow and it is quite creepy if I’m honest. I found it interesting that the color seems to reflects their mood. The blood in this film looks really good and I think the wounds we see are as well. It is a good touch that when someone turns, they are ashy like they are completely drained of blood. It isn’t until that first feeding that they look normal. That is some attention to detail. I also feel this film is shot very well.
Now with that said, this film has an interesting premise to it for sure. I like that we get the concept of Dexter before they were published as graphic novels. It is interesting to have a vampire pitted against a mafia and their leader starts to turn them into vampires. I definitely liked to see how everything would play out, I just wish they would have focused more on the villains and a bit less on the love story. The acting is really good and the effects were great. The soundtrack of the film really didn’t stand out to me aside from the use of a few Frank Sintara songs. Overall I did enjoy this movie more the second time around and it is an interesting vampire/gangster film. I would still say this is a good film after both of my viewings.
My Rating: 8 out of 10