In 1992, John Landis brought us the world of vampires mixed with the mob, a movie I never knew I needed. The director of An American Werewolf in London returned to the horror genre with Innocent Blood, a film that mixed humor with gore. Marie is a vampire living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who only feeds on the people who deserve to die. While feeding on a local mob boss, Sal “The Shark” Macelli, Marie forgets to dispose of the body which then turns Sal into a vampire, just like Marie. Sal realizes his newly acquired powers and organizes a new set of bloodthirsty gangsters intent on the taking of Pittsburgh. John Landis tackled werewolves in the 1981 with the superb An American Werewolf in London and in Innocent Blood, Landis approached vampires in a horror comedy full of stylish direction, comedy, action, and an abundance of cameos.
I am not too familiar with John Landis’ work, but am aware of his craftsmanship in An American Werewolf in London. The first time I viewed that movie I was blown away by Landis’ direction and care for the horror genre. While watching the new Warner Archive Collection Blu-ray release for Innocent Blood I thought that this sexy bloodsucking movie was exceptionally well-done. Landis mixes comedy and horror to create a new look on vampires and mobs. Landis offers enough blood and gore as well as humor to where each element doesn’t overpower the other. I found myself to enjoy both aspects of the film. Landis isn’t afraid to shake up the rhythm of the movie while being downright gory and then quickly adding a corny line or two to shake up the tone.
There is a lot of fun to be had in this movie such as playing a game of how many cameos can you spot. Any fans of the horror genre can easily spot the endless amounts of classic filmmakers and stars such as Sam Raimi, Frank Oz, Tom Savini, and more. You can even spot Alfred Hitchcock and Peter Cushing on TV sets throughout the film.
I enjoy watching vampire films such as classics like Dracula and Nosferatu and even some modern takes like Let the Right One In, From Dusk till Dawn, and Interview with a Vampire. Most vampire movies either stick to them being serious or bloody. It is rare that a film can come along and shift the genre up. It is a risky move to implement a new style to a classic genre and have it pay off. Lately films are being ballsy and that is what viewers love. This definitely paid off for John Landis as mixing the genres gave viewers a new appreciation for vampire movies.
The Blu-ray for Innocent Blood is a little bit erratic as the well-lit scenes are sharp and crisp, but as soon as it transitions to scenes involving darker settings, the tones make it harder to see. I do admire the director’s balance of dark and bright scenes as they match the tone of the film which is a playful, violent film surrounding vampires.
The audio mix has been cleaned up and dialogue is rendered nicely. Moments of action scenes such as gunshots add jolt to the sound. Those moments take command of the audio mix. I was impressed with the sound for the fun moments in the film as well as the serious action sequences.
The only special feature for this release is a trailer for the film.
I highly recommend this film for anyone who has a love for vampire films or even just horror films in general. It is a lesser known film but one that demands a watch. It doesn’t top the list of best vampire movies out there, but it’s certainly an enjoyable one which is fine with me. Having now watched a few of John Landis’ movies, I am curious of other films he has directed before and after Innocent Blood.
Lionsgate generously provided Hotchka with a Blu-ray of the film for reviewing purposes.