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Innocent Blood Review

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★★★★★

The high concept of this promising but scrappy horror-thriller hybrid pits a French-accented vampirette (Parillaud) against a Pittsburgh mafia don (Robert Loggia) whom she has accidentally turned into an undead monster.

Undercover cop LaPaglia is dragged along by Parillaud on her mission, gradually coming to love the ethical bloodsucker even as he hones his vampire-killing skills. Parillaud more than confirms the foxy-but-sinister promise of Nikita in her genuinely scary feral outbursts and playfully kinky seductions, but Loggia isn't best served by a script that never lets his character do anything interesting, while goon-ish hero LaPaglia suffers from a severe charisma deficiency.

Landis occasionally plays wonderful licks on the cliches, as in an original take on the familiar vampire-burning-up-at-dawn shtick, but like his earlier movies (An American Werewolf In London, The Blues Brothers) this keeps self-destructing on a story level. Of all entries in the recent vampire cycle, this is at once the most hung-up on horror history and the most revisionary in its rewriting of the mythology.

Archly refraining from using the word vampire, it substitutes a pump-shotgun to the head for a stake in the heart, fractal-glowing eyes for fangs, and rawly gushing open wounds for tiny neck-punctures. Not all the innovations work, however, mainly because the film tells us far too little about Parillaud's rootless character, though at least it's more than just a rehash of earlier movies.