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.