There is a lot of danger out in the world for poor old saps like Q and myself who still prefer to own physical media over its digital counterpart. The sloughing off of someone else’s excess assures the bloat of our own, from used media stores who dare to charge $7 for discarded DVDs to thrift stores who offer up videocassettes at 25 cents a pop, the world of garbage is our delicious oyster. I guess it goes both ways, though: there is some measure of relief knowing that, after watching a particularly underwhelming feature, we can take it somewhere and turn it into new-to-us gold! After dumping 20-or-so shitty flicks and getting a pretty penny in store credit, my ability and desire to discern a worthy purchase from a shitty gamble goes out the window, and the stack we take home often times ends up larger than the one we ditched! First-world hoarder problems, I suppose, but this is all the long way ’round to explaining why we ended up with a copy of John Landis’ Innocent Blood. The cover looked promising, and while Landis has his ups and downs, I thought for sure a vampire flick set in my former home of Pittsburgh was a shoe-in for a keeper.
The film follows a charming French vampire named Marie (Anne Parillaud, also known as that chick from La Femme Nikita), who skulks around the seedier parts of Pittsburgh hoping to feed on the flesh of the evil mobsters who’ve made it their playground. See, Marie doesn’t believe in killing innocent humans, it’s the devils she’s after. When she happens upon local gangster Tony (Chazz Palminteri) she’s relieved to have found herself a meal for the night, and we get a glimpse into her rules: never leave evidence, and never make the mistake of allowing them to come back as vampires. After a long awaited feast, she cleanly takes care of Tony by blowing his head off by a shotgun.
Having acquired a taste for this particular type of wise guy, Marie sets her sights on the top of the food chain: the number one mob boss in all of Pittsburgh, Salvatore “The Shark” Macelli (Robert Loggia). Unfortunately, his taste for garlicky mussels throws her off her game and she doesn’t quite get the chance to finish him up. Leaving him for ‘dead,’ Marie flees the scene, and its aftermath sure confuses the shit out of undercover cop Joe (Anthony LaPaglia). It seems a blessing in disguise that all the mobsters he’s trying to nail are getting picked off, but he can’t shake the feeling that something supernatural is going on here; I mean, why are there bodies nearly completely drained of blood?
Marie’s carelessness with Macelli’s body of course turns into a boon for the mob: his re-animated corpse is seemingly indestructible! Being the opportunist most mob bosses are, he realizes the cops will be no match for him and his crew if they’re all turned into bloodsucking monsters. Now it’s up to Joe and Marie (oh yeah, somewhere along the way they met, fought, made-up and banged) to save the ‘Burgh from the undead.
Somehow, all of Innocent Blood‘s potential just never adds up to a very good movie. Sure, there are some moments that are slightly amusing, but for a film that wants much more to be comedy than horror, it’s never quite funny enough. The jokes just fall a little (or a lot) flat, and I can’t put the blame on the actors; I really think it is due to lackluster writing. Ultimately it’s rather a shame; I wanted very much to like this movie, but it was just… so… anemic.
There were times during (and even after) watching Innocent Blood that I thought it might be worth keeping in our collection. After all, genre cameos abound: Frank Oz, Sam Raimi, Dario Argento, Tom Savini and even Forry Ackerman all make appearances. Though they’re delightful, they’re not enough to make the film worthwhile. It seems that lame jokes, a star-studded cast and unimpressive computer-generated special effects don’t make a very good movie. I did find myself thinking this might actually be a good candidate for a reboot: a nice make-over by the right people could bring this plot line to its full potential. As it is, I can’t say I recommend it.