Innocent Blood [1992]

John Landis was the perfect director for Innocent Blood, a horror-comedy hybrid that does for French vampires in Pittsburgh what Landis's An American Werewolf in London did for hungry lycanthropes in Picadilly Square. Anne Parillaud, the sexy star of La Femme Nikita, is perfectly cast as a beguiling vampire who must feed regularly on human blood, and when she spots a local Mafia kingpin (Robert Loggia), she says to herself, "I think I'll try Italian!" But once the Mafioso realizes he's now an undead vampire, he goes on a rampant crusade of bloodthirsty vengeance, biting his soldiers and consigliere (Don Rickles, no less!) to recruit an army of undead henchmen. Pretty soon Parillaud's teamed up with an undercover cop (Anthony LaPaglia) in an attempt to stop her victims from proliferating throughout the Pittsburgh underworld. (Disconnecting the central nervous system will kill a bloodsucker, and the powerful Parillaud can snap necks as efficiently as she bites them.) Landis keeps it all moving at a raucous pace, favoring humor without sacrificing intelligent plotting and interesting characters. Parillaud evokes sympathy even when her eyes glow fiery red and she's ripping the throats out of her victims--hey, she's only trying to survive, right? And Loggia takes one of his best-ever roles and runs with it, spouting lines of Mafioso dialogue made hilarious by the fact that he's a walking, blood-soaked corpse. Morbid humor and gruesome makeup are abundant here, as well as Landis's trademark inclusion of cameos by such horror-movie icons as Dario Argento, Sam Raimi, and monster-fan extraordinaire Forrest J. Ackerman. With tenderness, toughness, a dash of kink, and plenty of laughs, this is the kind of guilty pleasure that includes "I've Got You Under My Skin" on the soundtrack, just for the sheer enjoyment of a campy double-entendre. How can you resist? --Jeff Shannon

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