Release Date(s)1992 (September 19, 2017)
Studio(s)Warner Bros. (Warner Archive Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: D-
An underappreciated film in its time that has slowly but surely made a resurgence over the years, Innocent Blood is John Landis’ return to the comedy/horror milieu that he nailed so perfectly in An American Werewolf in London 11 years prior. Released during the fall of 1992 to a mixed reception from critics and an unsatisfactory box office take, it quietly slipped away into the shadows, remaining a cult classic in the eyes of its fans.
Anne Parillaud is Marie, a sultry, French vampire whom carefully and selectively feeds on her victims. Circumstantially she finds her fangs on the end of a ruthless mobster (Rogert Loggia) and hot on her trail is an undercover cop with a price on his head (Anthony LaPaglia). The two of them will eventually have to work together if they’re going to stop the mobster from wreaking havoc on the city and turning many of its criminals into vampires. The cast also includes Don Rickles, David Proval, Chazz Palminteri, Kim Coates, Luis Guzmán, Marshall Bell, and Angela Bassett, with cameo appearances by Frank Oz, Tom Savini, Linnea Quigley, Dario Argento, and Sam Raimi.
The film’s genre crossbreeding isn’t quite as ironed out as its furry predecessor, but it’s an enticing horror film nonetheless with enough dry wit and sex appeal to warrant its existence. Although shot primarily on location in Pittsburgh, nothing about it really screams 90s, making it almost timeless (aside from that pesky rap song at the end). Anne Parillaud positively glows on-screen while Robert Loggia is over the top and hilarious, chewing the scenery with the greatest of ease. What could have potentially been a disastrous attempt at recapturing a former glory winds up being an enjoyable return that isn’t quite perfect, but is much better than many of its contemporaries.
Warner Archive’s Blu-ray of the film is a welcome upgrade of its very dated DVD release from many years ago. For this release, they’ve chosen to assemble the longest cut of the film possible, dubbing it the “International Version”, which is only about 2-3 minutes longer than the R-rated theatrical original. The extra footage was previously only available in alternate versions of the film, primarily in Germany. There aren’t really any extra scenes, just extensions of what’s already there, particularly when it comes to the gore effects. There are additional moments during Robert Loggia’s scene-devouring speech at the end, a slightly longer sex scene, more activity in the strip club, and other minor extensions. After doing research and comparisons, I can safely say that this is indeed the longest version of the film currently available on any format.
As far as the A/V quality is concerned, it’s spectacular. Utilizing 2K scans of separate interpositive elements from both the R-rated and Unrated versions, this new transfer is heads and tails above anything previously seen on home video. Although the film has always had a slightly (and stylistically) soft look, thanks in no small part to cinematographer Mac Ahlberg, the sharpness and overall clarity found here is remarkable. The grain structure is absolutely solid, despite using two different sources, with enormous depth in the image, specifically when it comes to shadow detail. Skin textures, as well as elaborate special effects make-up jobs, hold up beautifully. The color palette is also striking. Even though the film takes place primarily at night, there’s a richness to what’s presented, with perfect skin tones and bold hues. Black levels are inky deep while contrast levels are virtually perfect. There are no signs of digital enhancement on display, nor is there any major film damage leftover. The sole audio track available is an English 2.0 DTS-HD presentation. While the film was never given a potent sound design, what’s presented here is more than adequate. Dialogue is centered and the focus of attention for the most part, while sound effects often have occasional stylistic placement or movement from speaker to speaker. The score fills out the presentation nicely and everything is mixed together quite well. Occasional LFE also pops up, particularly during guns firing or explosions, but the track represents the film quite well. There are also subtitles in English SDH, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer in HD as the only extra.
One must commend Warner Archive for rescuing Innocent Blood from the depths of standard definition obscurity; not only dusting it off, but handing it to us in its fullest form while also continuing their efforts of giving each and every one of their titles the best A/V treatment possible. Innocent Blood may not be a top tier title, but its Blu-ray presentation leaves nothing to complain about.
- Tim Salmons