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Innocent Blood (1992)

by on 2011/04/19

“I was sad, I was starved. It was time to treat myself. Then I thought: ‘What about… Italian?'”

* * * *

How best to describe Innocent Blood? True Blood meets the Sopranos? No, not quite. How about La Femme Nikita Is a Bloodsucking Fiend?

There. That’s closer.

Directed by John Landis, this is a black comedic tale of blood, love, lust and gangland crime – all layered together like a good lasagna and smeared with extra red sauce. Innocent Blood, this gangster movie with vampires (or is that the vampire movie with mobsters?) subscribes to the same vampire mythology that Christopher Moore’s novel Bloodsucking Fiends does: Being a vampire is hard. Also maybe a little funny.

I know, I know, it is very difficult to imagine anything being hard for the transcendentally beautiful and lithe Anne Parillaud (La Femme Nikita).

Parillaud plays Marie, a vampire with a principled, conscientious eating plan.

Marie only eats bad guys.

Alone and running out of sources of blood, Marie scans the headlines for a new source of evil nutrition. On the night kitchen menu, made men.

Parillaud is lovely, pure sinewy danger mixed with the exuberance and charm of a delighted little girl. Remember her jack-booted ballet in La Femme Nikita? Marie is again the embodiment of graceful menace.

It is a thing of beauty to see predator Marie jump from the shadows, arms outstretched overhead like a giggling pre-teen on a rollercoaster. And she can tear out a throat like a hungry Cosa Nostra soldier tearing into a dry-cured ham.

Anthony LaPaglia gives a soulful, sober performance as Joe, an undercover cop who has wended his way into the inner circle of crime boss Salli “The Shark” Macelli’s crime family. Nearly mistaking Joe for her next meal, Marie sees the conflicted goodness inside of him and they fall for one another.

I’ll go so far as to say that without LaPaglia this entire film would have slid dangerously close to pure, undistilled camp. He’s the tiny island of reality and humanity in a swirling, snarling slapstick splatterfest.

As for Salli, played by the great Robert Loggia, I can’t say enough about this performance. Loggia doesn’t simple chew the scenery in his every moment of screen time, he chomps, scratches, gulps and guzzles. He’s thoroughly entertaining as psychopathic crime lord, turned psychopathic vampire.

How’s this for a (scary) leadership?:

“We’ve got the muscle. We’ve got the hunger. We’ll crack this town like a lobster.”

In this movie, camp horror dons terrifying glow-in-the-dark contact lenses and full body splatter. You haven’t seen terror until you’ve seen an undead Don Rickles, playing mob lawyer Manny, sporting glowing eyes and a hospital gown attempting to eat his nurse.

For a gangster movie/TV fan like myself, seeing the supporting characters was also a kick. There’s Tony Sirico (The Sopranos), David Proval (Mean Streets), Chazz Palminteri (The Usual Suspects) in all their shiny suit-, leather jacket-wearing glory.

Comedy + vampires + horror = happy Goth.

Well, as happy as I am capable of being (the corners of my mouth nearly turned up watching this one).

* * * *

112 minutes

Rated R for nudity, gore and Don Rickles in a hospital gown

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