Ahh, Innocent Blood. During the early 1990’s, there was a slew of “mobster” movies made from ‘Goodfellas‘, to the third Godfather flick to even Stallone’s shark-jumping opus, ‘Oscar‘. In a way, Innocent Blood plays off this trend, but adds vampires to the mix. I’m not a big fan of vampire movies to be honest, for the same reason most people aren’t. Vampires are usually written as pretentious pretty assholes who suffer from severe cases of Mary Sue/Marty Stu syndromes. Fortunately, this movie, much like last week’s Blood: The Last Vampire is not the case. Now the movie is a black comedy, but what was funny about it is that it wasn’t advertised as such. People went to see the movie thinking it was a typical serious toned horror film, so some people wasn’t sure what to make of it. This plays into a theme I’ve often wondered: If you don’t tell someone that something is a comedy, will they know to laugh? Innocent Blood, was re-titled for international audiences as ‘A French Vampire in America‘, implying it’s a sequel to director John Landis’ earlier black comedy movie, ‘An American Werewolf in London‘. (Another charming film, but more well known, so there’s no need to talk about it.)
Innocent Blood is about a young beautiful Frenchwoman named Marie, played by the beautiful Anne Parillaud, who happens to be a vampire. It’s a classic theme that’s been brought up hundreds of times in comic books: “If I must kill, then let it be those who deserve it.” Essentially the city of Pittsburgh (where the story takes place) is in the midst of a mob war, and Marie decides to use it as a cover to feed on mobsters. She seduces the mobsters, and then they’re alone, “vamps out” on them. Then she covers her tracks with a shotgun blast to the face. (Also to make sure none of them turn into vampires.) Unfortunately, she attempts to feed off a mob boss by the name of Sal Macelli, played awesomely by Robert Loggia, and she gets interrupted before she can shot him, and thus the plot begins when he wakes up in a morgue with a thermometer in his stomach, and decided to start converting his gang. (Including Don Rickles. Srsly.)
Now let me stop for a moment here and tell you about these mobsters. They are every single Italian stereotype you have ever seen rolled up into a single movie. All the music they listen to is Frank Sinatra, they all wear Armani suits, and they eat nothing but the typical Italian foods like spaghetti and calzone. (Yes, there is a garlic and vampire joke involved in the film. Two actually.) It sort of hilarious in it’s generalizations. The vampires on the other hand, they’re played very straight laced. Super-speed, strength, flight, and even wall crawling abilities. But they also didn’t screw about with the weaknesses. Break their neck, they die. Shoot them in the head, they die. Expose them to sunlight, they die. No sparkling here. Of all the vampire movies I’ve ever seen, this one has my favorite ones. (I only wish they turned into bats.) It’s all straight forward and absolutely NO pretentiousness. It is SO unpretentious that in one scene, where Macelli is soaked in gasoline, the hero takes out a lighter… And Macelli doesn’t become afraid or trying to talk him down… He looks at him like “screw you and your punkass girlfriend!” It’s just this cocky machismo that is so appealing, especially in the wake of the Edwards of the world. The hero of the film is played by the guy who plays that dude on “Without a Trace”. I could look up the details, but I can’t care enough to remember the character’s name. He could be played by Urkel for all I care, he’s not the star of the movie. You’re watching this movie for two reasons: Anne Parillaud’s character and Robert Loggia’s character. Maire because of how beautiful she is, and Macelli because of how cocky-awesome he is.
As for the acting… Well, like I said, they’re all acting like stereotypes, so it does comes across a bit corny at times. None of the protagonists, other than Marie, is even memorable, and that’s probably because they played it too straight. The character of Marie is interesting, as she has that almost “innocent” quality about her. (Hence the title.) Not too much is revealed of her past, so she has that mysterious alluring quality to her. However, it’s a good thing she’s supposed to have a heavy French accent, because it barely covered up the fact that she can’t act. (But it does bring up the Luke Skywalker/Mark Hamill question: Acting badly or badly acting?) The special effects are nothing too fancy, especially for it’s time. There are two standout moments for me though. One is the eyes of the vampires are done in this multicolored kaleidoscope which looks really neat, and it’s an effect I’d like to seen done again today. Unfortunately, these were done in the older days pre-computer effects, so they were likely tinted sclera lens. (Which I’ve worn once, and feel sorry for anyone who ever has.) So sometimes, the pupils comes across as cross-eyed one time too many, making it look a little sillier than intended. And there’s this other scene, with a vampire being exposed to sunlight, and it’s a really impressive death scene that reminded me more of a charcoaling, than a typical “burn to flames” effect.
Innocent Blood is a silly film, but highly watchable. If you haven’t seen it, give it a try. It clocks in at about 110 minutes, so it’s not too long… And it’s a treat to see some vampires with an actual set of balls.
Join me next Thursday as I review an animated movie that inspired my generation to appreciate badly animated cartoon boobs, beheadings and… Taxi drivers?
Well, the final installment of the Lindsey story goes up today. Vote to check it out. Yes, it ends on a cliffhanger, which will be resolved in the main title. I do not believe this is the end of Miss Yeoh’s solo adventures by a long shot, but at present I cannot talk about them. What I can talk about is the events of this weekend at SDCC. Now I wasn’t there, though D.Rod was, so here’s the highlights that caught my eye. (And sometimes both eyes!)
- D.Rod’s Starkweather: Immortal series is indeed out and about now. He’s held the damn book in his hands and even sold some I hear. I’ll let him talk about it himself in more details next week.
- Information and a short trailer preview of the Transformers: Prime series was shown. I think everyone who’s a regular here knows about my obsession with those damn toys, and I wasn’t disappointed with what was revealed about the series. I’m looking forward to it. I have to admit, the nerd in me teared up a bit when I heard Peter Cullen and Frank Welker go at it in their Optimus and Megatron voices… I was ten years old again.
- Warner Bros’ new Godzilla was revealed for 2012. Well, he looks like Godzilla so it’s already one up on that last piece of crap made stateside. (And it gives me hope for a new Godzilla vs. King Kong movie!)
- The Avengers lineup was announced. To be honest, I’m not the biggest Joss Whedon fan. Some of that might be due to what I call my “Kevin Smith Syndrome” where it’s not so much with the man himself, but the worship that’s heaped upon him for reasons still unknown to me. Everyone swears to me that Firefly is the greatest SciFi series ever, and I watched half that series and the best I could say was “Meh.” (I’ll save that rant for a later date.)
- The trailer for the DC Universe Online went up. It looks utterly fantastic and beautiful, and I can only wish that the DC movies were that great looking. Unfortunately, I cannot play it. I’m one of those people that if I start something like a game or something, I end up constantly playing it and playing it and playing it, never getting any work done. And I’m a slow enough artist as it is, without the distractions of a very pretty and beautiful game. *sigh*
- And on a personal interest front, after ten years, the Gundam series “Turn A Gundam” is being released stateside and I’m rather thrilled about that. See, years ago, when people were first being introduced to Gundam (usually on Toonami) I found out about Turn A. Watched a few tapes, read some information and realized that while the animation was a big old fashioned, the story was amazing. It’s controversial because it’s unlike the other Gundam series, which is probably why I liked it. I own the box set of it, which was subtitled in “engrish”, meaning it was a bit of a challenge to follow along at times. But I still loved it and I’m looking forward to watching it all over again and this time, in proper English.
There’s some other stuff, but those were the highlights for me. Join me back here on Thursday as I talk about the next “Stupid-Awesome” movie.
Now before I start, I’m one of those people that has no problem shutting my brain off and enjoying crap. And even seeing a higher form of art in said crap. People seem to get a serious bug up their asses when it comes to movies like these. It’s like appreciating a good fart joke: The only people who don’t find a good fart joke funny, is people who’s never farted, or people who don’t want to admit they’ve farted. (Which really explains a lot, if you stop and think about it.)
When I saw last year that they were making a Blood: The Last Vampire movie, I thought “This looks like it’d be a really interesting way to waste a couple of hours.” I mean, did I expect good? Hell no, it’s a live action remake of an 50 minute long anime from ten years ago, which I thought was just “okay.” Unfortunately, it had a very limited release, as in no theater in Michigan was even showing the damn thing. So I had to wait until it’s release on DVD. By no means did I expect this movie to be all that great. I figured there’d be a ton of bad acting, a some head kicking, bad special effects and no script. I was right on all accounts. It’s not like I was expecting brilliance. Yet, despite the film’s flaws… And there were a bunch of them… It was rather awesome. In a nutshell, the movie takes place at Yokota Air Base in Japan around the early 70’s, during the closing days of the Vietnam War. (I find this time period interesting choice, as really, you don’t see a lot of modern movies picking this time period, much less this time period in Japan. Kinda interesting and allowed for a cool soundtrack.) Saya is a 400 year old half human/half vampire teenage girl who’s hunts other vampires, looking for the master vampire, Onigen. She has the help of an organization called the Council, which helps cover her tracks as she does cause a bit of a mess wherever she goes. During the course of the movie, she befriends a token white girl, who’s a rebellious General’s daughter which leads into a cover up mess involving the military and this fore mentioned Council. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound brilliant. But let me get the bad out of the way first and then I’ll get into the awesome.
The film has a very claustrophobic feel, which I THINK is intentional. I do not know. The acting is about what you’d expect from a movie like this. It’s not Iron Man but it’s also not exactly Dino Croc vs. Supergator either. It’s serviceable, which is really all that you can hope to expect. The special effects are none too special, and in some places are outright bad. There’s a lot of beheading and CG blood, and there’s a moment in the movie where a monster turns into his bestial form, and it looks about as convincing as a Ray Harryhausen’s Dynamation. (But not as cool.) The plot doesn’t really have any major holes in it, but it’s not exactly deep either. It’s not like The Dark Knight, where there’s multiple layers heaped upon more layers of complexity. It’s pretty straight forward and about as intricate as some of the more complex episodes of Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue. However, despite it’s flaws, the movie is well aware of it’s weaknesses and doesn’t try to be more than what it is.
This is where the movie shines. It compensates for it’s shoestring budget by being very artistically funky with it. Outside of that ‘monster form” I mentioned, it works well within it’s boundaries. If you’re wanting a movie about the human spirit overcoming personal odds, look elsewhere. This is a fight movie, through and through with some impressive battles, spreading across various sceneries, from flickering subways, to rooftops in the down pouring rain to an ash covered netherworld that’s somewhat psychedelic in it’s execution. While a few anachronisms are afoot, the costuming and sets are pretty accurate for it’s time period. There’s this fight scene in the second third of the film where Saya’s uncle (or whatever the hell he is) who’s like this old man, takes on a horde of vampire ninjas (seriously!) and a severe amount of ass is kicked. Limbs are chopped off, fingers are sliced, heads are decapitated, and through it all, it doesn’t slow down once. In fact, the whole film is like that. A nonstop action film, which is something that is exceedingly rare these days. Also, the film clocks in at about 90 minutes making it another rarity… A movie that’s not too long or too short.
Blood: The Last Vampire is a silly but awesome movie. It’s not brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, but damn, was it a lot of fun. There should be more movies like this honestly. If you’re in the mood for a fun hack and slasher film, then I’d say give this a shot.
Join me again next Thursday when I talk about another vampire movie (it’s the last one for now) that features about every single Italian mafia stereotype and the cute chick from La Femme Nikita.
Before I begin, the new Lindsey page is up and running. It’s the second to the last page for the Lindsey story there. So vote now to see it, and catch up on the archives. D.Rod’s out of town visiting family and for SDCC, so I get to babble off on various topics to keep y’all entertained. And the main topic is a favorite of mine: Stupid movies.
I had this planned for quite a few months now, and I was going to run a theme of “Ten movie that are nowhere as bad as people say”. I had the list all formed up and ready, but a couple of weeks ago, James Rolfe of Cinemassacre.com did a video review of “Top 10 Sequels That Aren’t As Bad As Everyone Says” and I was floored. Not only did he pick just about every movie I was going to do, but he even addressed my points I was going to make. The order is different (except #1) and I had Alien 3 and Return to Neverland in there in place of Spider-Man 3 and Gremlins 2. (I’ll just have to talk about them on my own someday.) Seriously though, give his video a watch. Other than Spider-Man 3 and Gremlins 2, I agree with just about everything on that list. I’ve always loved Rolfe’s work and this is no exception. (And if you wanna see true comedy in it’s greatest form, watch his video ‘Mr. Bucket’ and just prepare to laugh your ass off.)
So in it’s place, I’m gonna talk about “Stupid-Awesome Movies (you probably haven’t seen).” These are going be “nutshell reviews”, where I’m not going to go into too much detail, but I’ll at least explain why I liked it. Now understand one thing: Above all else, these are stupid movies. They are not Oscar contenders, and nor should they ever be considered such. They are not high on plot. They are not high on drama. Hell, some of them are just high. But they’re fun and I enjoyed watching them enough I even bought the thing on DVD. I’m going tell you all right now, many of you may outright disagree with me on these choices. You may think I’m on crack. That’s fine. You’re still wrong and it’s my site. (Okay, it’s technically D.Rod’s site too, and he could disagree with me, but he likes the Kia rapping gerbils, so there you go. Though I wanna go buy a guinea pig now.) I’m not going to talk about popular stupid-awesome movies like this year’s ‘Clash of the Titans’ or ‘Transformers 2‘. Considering how much they made at the box-office, odds are you may have seen them. No, these are the more obscure one. Ones that you don’t hear a lot of talk about and ones that I’m going hopefully introduce a few of you to.
So join us back here on Thursday as I introduce a few of you to a vampire movie from last year. (No, not that one.)