Monthly Archives: January 2011

84: Innocent Blood (1992)

So this was a fun little surprise!

I only put this on my queue because I missed it at the vampire movie festival at BAM last fall, and it really is just a bit of fun, but there’s not a thing wrong with that.  Anne Parillaud plays Marie, a lithe vampire vixen on the prowl for a meal and maybe some tail on the side, and she hits on the brilliant idea of preying on the mobsters who are wreaking havoc on the streets of Pittsburgh.  It works great until she tries to chow down on the big boss man himself (Robert Loggia) right after he’s eaten garlic, which seems like kind of an amateur mistake for a vampire lady who’s been drinkin the blood of many nationalities for centuries, but whatever.  The point is, she doesn’t quite kill him, so he wakes up in the morgue with a meat thermometer sticking out of his side and a craving for raw beef.  Coincidentally, a cop (Anthony LaPaglia) who’s been undercover with the family for two years suddenly blows his own cover for no good reason and enlists Marie’s help after the mobster boss goes rogue and starts biting his underlings (played by EVERY ITALIAN WHO HAS EVER BEEN IN A MOVIE) on the neck.  Her sexiness and superhuman strength make her a good crimefighting partner, but when she decides she’s in the mood for some sweet lovin’ as well, things get a wee bit cooomplicated!

So in case you can’t tell from my confused rendering, the plot makes no sense whatsoever.  Anthony LaPaglia’s character is completely extraneous to the story, and there’s no reason for him to out himself as a cop during the first act, since his target is Frank Loggia’s character, who’s still very much at large.  It’s also never clear why Marie is willing to do just about anything to defeat Loggia’s mobster-turned-vampire — I like that she has a conscience and doesn’t, as she puts it, “play with [her] food,” but there’s really no foundation for the levels of self-sacrifice she rises to.  And pretty much every plot twist that serves to throw her and LaPaglia together feels contrived and silly

So why did I give this movie four stars on Netflix? (it’s true, I did!)  I will tell you.  First of all, the two leads are absolutely sparkling, and they have fantastic chemistry.  I already knew young Anthony LaPaglia was a fine piece of manflesh who can also act, but to my shame I didn’t recognize the luminous Ms. Parillaud from La Femme Nikita (which in fairness I saw many years ago), and she’s more than a match for him.  Yes, she looks fantastic naked, and their sex scene manages to be funny without stooping to making fun of either of the characters.  I’m also a sucker for powerful women, and they don’t get any more powerful than Marie the vampire, who jumps off a church tower, lands on LaPaglia’s car, caving the roof in completely, and then walks away without a scratch.  And for all the jumbled meanderings of the plot, the idea is a solid one.  There’s something inherently funny about Italian mobster vampires, and my boy John Landis gets it pitch-perfect.  Most of the special effects are pretty terrible, but there’s an amazing and terrifying death scene when one of the vampires (Don Rickles!) accidentally gets into a wayward patch of sunlight — I couldn’t even put the still of it up here because it’s too damn scary.  And it wouldn’t be a John Landis movie without some gratuitous celebrity cameos — this one doesn’t have the same embarrassment of riches as The Blues Brothers, but Frank Oz has a few lines as the coroner, and Sam Raimi is hilarious as a daft meat locker employee.  Make no mistake: this is no Let the Right One In, but it’s good silly fun with a surprisingly sweet love story thrown in.

83: Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)

Remember this one?  That’s right, you don’t.  Even though it was the movie that brought Brad and Angie together OMG??  Nope, still nothing.

Why would I even subject myself to this?  Every time I saw it on my Netflix queue, I thought, “Surely that must be the 1941 movie with Carole Lombard, not the schlocky piece of crap from a couple of years ago, RIGHT?”  But I still let it inch its way to the top of my queue, and when it arrived in my hands, danged if I didn’t watch it.

So let’s get this out of the way first: the plot has more holes than a slab of Swiss cheese.  Even if you can accept the film’s preposterous premise — the owners of two competing companies of hit-people* meet and wed without either party sniffing out the other’s duplicity –the mind-blowing ridiculousness doesn’t end there.  How, exactly, does one install a rotating weapon rack in the recesses of one’s oven without one’s spouse finding out?  Where do these independent hitmen and hitwomen get the money to purchase government-issue rocket-launchers and Batcave-like lairs with secret entrances and remote-control blinds, for god’s sake?  What the heck do our gorgeous protagonists do after (spoiler alert!) they kill off THEIR ENTIRE RESPECTIVE AGENCIES in order to save each other?  The opening credits list about twelve people as the film’s writers, so I blame that for the movie’s incoherence and for the crappy dialogue in the first forty minutes-ish.  Things get better and funnier after they find out each other’s dirty secret (though that moment is also completely wasted), but it never approaches anything believable.  Is it even worth mentioning how bad the special effects are?  I’m doing it anyway: they suck.  The fake floating embers in the scene where their house has just been blown up are particularly egregious.

I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say this movie ISN’T a complete waste of time, but it does have its good points.  Vince Vaughn is hilarious and under-utilized as Brad Pitt’s right-hand guy who still lives with his mother and keeps a rifle under his pillow.  And Adam Brody elevates the two or three scenes he gets with his rich exasperated twentysomething routine, which plays well against Pitt and Jolie’s collective lack of affect (seriously guys, “intense” does not count as a facial expression).  The music is also surprisingly unsucky — sometimes it’s too on-the-nose, but I dug the “Mondo Bongo” song during the final shootout.  And I touched on this earlier, but the dialogue gets vastly better once the pair lets their secret out of the bag — the car chase scene during which they bicker about who gets the “girl gun” and who’s a better driver is actually really funny and sweet at the same time.

Did I really just write 475 words about this movie?  You’d better believe it.  Don’t watch it unless you’re lucky enough to have friends like mine who host “bad movie” nights, in which case I think it’s a perfect fit: no one will be mad if you talk over it, and everyone gets some satisfying eye candy.

*do these even exist?  If so, are they taking applications?