I love John Landis, and I love that he at least tries to do something new whenever approaching the horror genre. No one else would try to bring together the mafia movie with the vampire movie. And while “Innocent Blood” stumbles in to a messy, dull, and silly horror comedy gangster picture, Landis is at least courageous enough to try to see where it’ll all take him. “Innocent Blood” suffers mainly from being so self congratulatory, to where Landis almost seems to be patting himself on the back at times. There are myriad scenes of characters in the movie watching classic horror movies on television, which is distracting considering the movie is set in Pittsburgh during the winter.
Landis is also never afraid to feature his horror colleagues in brief, baffling cameos that further distract from any kind of momentum the movie goes for. Look! Tom Savini as a photographer! Dario Argento as an EMT! Hey look, there’s Frank Oz! Sam Raimi? Cool! Linnea Quigley, no way! Uh—okay, what was this movie about, again? Anne Parillaud gives a mediocre performance as Marie, a gorgeous French woman who is a blood thirty vampire. At night she stalks New York seeking various men she can prey on, and chooses them carefully. After a dry streak leaves her starving, she targets gangster Tony, as played by Chazz Palminteri and manages to lure him out onto a deserted cliff where she eats in cold blood. Assuming she’d covered up his death, staging it to look like a mob hit, local undercover cop Joseph begins investigating, looking for who may have killed him.
Marie slips up though when she attempts to seduce vicious mobster “Sal the Shark” who she preys on when he attempts to rape her. She’s interrupted by his guards, however, and flees incapable of disposing of him. Much to everyone’s horror, the maimed Sal rises from the dead and is now a blood sucking vampire. Accepting his form, he begins feasting on his colleagues and is dead set on building an underworld of vampire mobsters to take over the city. “Innocent Blood” is about as silly as it seems, despite the great special effects and vicious gore, and Landis has a tough time balancing all of the genres and sub-genres during the run time. Its camp, a horror comedy, a fractured romance, a vampire drama, gangster picture, crime thriller, and action film, and neither of them are ever entertaining.
The movie shifts tones so much that it tends to get distracting, and the eccentric aesthetic is a downfall rather than unique energy that benefits “Innocent Blood.” Parrilaud gives a sub-par performance, while LaPaglia is forced to really keep the film afloat most of the time. Meanwhile, Landis stuffs the film with great character actors, but the only names that ever really create memorable characters are Robert Loggia, and Don Rickles. Rickles is even given the benefit of a gruesome and memorable death scene. The energy and pacing are also abrupt, as Landis seems to be unsure how to wrap everything up. “Innocent Blood” ends on a very ambiguous note, instantly cutting to the credits flashing the big names Landis landed for the film. So, did Marie stay with Joseph? Did she eat him? Did she turn him in to her mate? Did Joseph allow Marie to continue feeding on people? It’s left up in the air, and amounts to a lackluster genre entry, overall.