Picks and Pans Review: Innocent Blood
A unique and uniquely amusing blend of vampire, gangster and love stories, this is a bloodbath of a comedy that will have you laughing all the way to the vomitorium.
Parillaud (La Femme Nikita) is a vampire who attacks only evil people. In Pittsburgh with a yen to "eat Italian," she lands in a bunch of gangsters headed by Loggia. She also meets LaPaglia, an undercover cop who has infiltrated Loggia's gang.
Both Parillaud and LaPaglia want to take a bite out of crime, but Parillaud's is the more direct approach, turning Loggia's neck into a gnawing post and making him a second-generation vampire. He, in turn, transforms Rickles, as his lawyer, into an undead shyster.
LaPaglia and Parillaud develop an earthier relationship, while Loggia chomps his way to the top of the crime world. (Director John Landis shows his vampires in close-up as they surface from the necks of their victims, mouths dripping blood and mucus.)
Though Parillaud makes a comely monster, it would have been more fun to see a familiar actress—Cher, say, or Sigourney Weaver—in the role, for a change of pace's sake, rather than use a foreign actress whose transformation seems less shocking. LaPaglia, however, is an ideal foil, adept at looking alternately aghast, determined and lovestruck. And Loggia is funny as the mobster anxious to have vampire powers to use against his rivals.
Landis and his writer, newcomer Michael Volk, display a flawed grasp of vampire lore: Parillaud can see her reflection in a mirror. But they get laughs out of the peripheral details. Parillaud, for instance, finds Loggia's blood distasteful, given his predilection for garlic. While there are lots of obvious "He's not my type" vampire spoof jokes, almost every scene has a TV set in the background, showing an old movie, often a Lugosi or Christopher Lee Dracula film.
The Parillaud-Loggia sparring and Parillaud-LaPaglia sparking is fun, too. Parillaud may be the most original female vampire-since the similarly eerie but less fleshily sexy Gloria Holden starred in 1936's Dracula's Daughter. The most entertaining, too. (R)