Thursday, October 8, 2009

Suck It, Day Eight - Innocent Blood

Eleven years after writing the book on horror-comedy with An American Werewolf in London, John Landis turned from werewolves to vampires with 1992's Innocent Blood.

Innocent Blood

French actress Anne Paillaud (La Femme Nikita) plays Marie, and she tells us that in her condition - she never outright says "vampire" that I recall - she finds comfort in sensory pleasures, such as food and sex. She tells us she has very particular tastes, and we eventually surmise that not only can she only eat blood, she only feeds on criminals, never "innocent blood." She scours the papers looking for prey, and sees headlines about a crime boss. So she decides she's in the mood for a little Italian.

She kills one of his cronies first, and tells us her two rules - 1) Never play with the food, and 2) Always finish the food. By finish she means that she has to sever the spinal cord, so that the nervous system is dead. Otherwise the person shows signs of being dead, but will awake soon as a vampire. And herein lies the interesting twist on the vampire lore. Most other vampires' central organ is the heart - it's what pumps the blood and it's where you have to stab them in order to kill them. These vamps have a functioning nervous system as, simultaneously, their life support and their weak spot. It's almost like Landis is combining the vampire and the zombie mythology - shoot 'em in the head, you know they're dead.

The next night Marie goes after the big boss, Sal Macelli (Robert Loggia). This turns out to be a little more than Marie bargained for, and she ends up having to escape before she's able to fully kill him (but after she's bitten him and drained his blood). Which means Sal - after a trip to the morgue and a hilarious escape - is now a vampire. Cue twist number two. Sal is so impressed with his new powers that he decides to make all his close associates "made men," as it were. So now not only does Marie have to track Sal down and finish the job, she's also got to kill whoever else he's turned into a vampire.

She's not alone in her quest, though. She soon finds an unlikely ally in Joe Gennaro (Anthony LaPaglia), a cop who used to work undercover for Macelli's crew, but who has had to go into protection. He's after Marie as a perp, and he's royally ticked that she got to Macelli before he could be brought in alive, but she soon gains his trust, and they eventually have quite the smutty lovemaking session in a motel waiting for sunset. Speaking of which, that's a rather cool scene. Joe is afraid to trust her at first, but she lets him handcuff her so that he can be sure she won't hurt him. Of course, with her supernatural strength, she easily breaks the cuffs in the heat of the moment, so it was kind of a good thing that she had no intention of hurting him.

This is an incredibly fun film, fairly unique for the genre, and not shy about gore or nudity. As a lady with something of a crush on Anthony LaPaglia, I was glad to see him in a somewhat sexy role. There are some pretty good laughs as well, most notably in the person of Don Rickles, who plays a mafia lawyer. His death by sunlight is pretty amazing.

Below is the trailer, as I couldn't find any other decent clips online.

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