Directed by John Landis
Marie (Anne Parillaud), a young French vampire, fails to kill Salvatore “Sal the Shark” Macelli (Robert Loggia) after she feeds. Now with the powers of a vampire Sal begins to change his men and prepares to unleash chaos on the city of Pittsburgh.
This movie mixes horror elements with crime drama bits to craft a horror comedy. The take of being a vampire film/mob film set in Pittsburgh makes it a vampire film with some of the more unique elements. Something like this would not be conceivable or come along again until the advent of the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Hellboy.
Don Rickles as mafia lawyer Manny Bergman stands out among the cast. He did some film work but not as much as most of the others have here. I think this was his only foray into anything approaching horror. And he is not too bad. His death scene alone is epic.
The “romance” between Detective Gennaro (Anthony LaPaglia) and Marie does not feel like much of a romance at all. There is an attraction/flirtation but the screen chemistry between the two actors never rises to what is going on between them as being a romance. It feels more like a close friendship despite a one-night stand. And there is nothing wrong with having that in a movie but directors and studios then much like today are averse to doing something like that.
John Landis gave us here a vampire movie set in Pittsburgh with Italian mobsters. Definitely one of the more unique entries into the vampire genre. It was an unusual mix that helps it stand out from other entries.
Even though it has these unique elements, this film adds nothing particularly new to the vampire genre. There are many unusual pieces given to the world of vampires in this film, but there are no real twists on the vampire mythology. They stay on well-worn paths here. I believe even the tortured vampire, here personified by Marie, was well worn material by this point. Plot potential feels wasted. Sal wishes to turn all his men into vampires but that really is the extent of his plan. No talk of running the city or a great crimewave or anything.
But despite these shortcomings it still manages to be entertaining. You do not necessarily need to reinvent the wheel to make something good. You just need to use that wheel well. And they do a pretty good job. The movie has Landis’s lighter touch throughout which helps to make the story go down easy.
The glowing eyes are a nice touch, but the issue is that the pupils are not always centered. At times the actors have one or two blue eyes-if you know what I mean. I have a great love for practical effects, but practical effects do require care and they did not take care here. Today they would put the glow in with computers more than likely but back then they could not and whatever they use did not look right.
However they knock it out of the park with Manny’s death scene. Sal has fed on him so he is beginning to turn. While in the hospital, he gets up to feed on a nurse but is exposed to sunlight. He starts screaming and writhing and turning to ash. It is an absolutely amazing scene.
Innocent Blood is an entertaining vampire film even if it is not particularly original which is sad because there was so much here to at the minimum move it into being a cult film. Give it a shot.