One of the stranger details of our Swampchat discussion of October’s Movie of the Month, John Landis’ 1992 horror comedy Innocent Blood, was that we couldn’t think of a single other film that featured a vampire mafia. You would think that another movie or a TV show or a comic book out there would’ve covered the topic before. The truth is that there very well may be an example out there that we’re over-looking, but it just hasn’t reached one of the four of us yet. Britnee & Erin suggested that there were similarities in the Canadian horror comedy Blood & Donuts‘ formula, but from what I understand that film is about a vampire navigating a world of modern day criminals, not about a world of modern day criminal vampires. After searching my brain for closer points of comparison over the past few weeks, I still couldn’t recall any other instances of a fictional vampire mafia, but I did happen to recall something somewhat similar: a zombie mafia.
It turns out Innocent Blood‘s undead criminals kissing cousin was under our noses all along, depicted in a film Britnee reviewed for this site several months ago: Shrunken Heads. Written/produced by infamous schlock-peddler Charles Band & directed by Danny Elfman’s brother/former bandmate Richard Elfman, Shrunken Heads is a goofy horror comedy featuring an undead ring of organized criminals, but is very much different from Innocent Blood in tone & purpose. While Innocent Blood feels like a perfect marriage of a Scorsese knockoff & a goofy vampire horror comedy, Shrunken Heads feels like a slightly edgy kids’ horror that went straight to VHS, which is pretty much the speciality of Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment brand in general.
In the film, a trio of young lads upset the day-to-day business of a teenage crime boss who acts like a slightly-too-old leftover from Bugsy Malone. Not one to be fucked with, he promptly has the pre-teen offenders murdered in a vicious hail of gunfire. They’re then promptly resurrected by a voodoo priest/newspaper salesman who turns their remains into magical, flying shrunken heads who zip around, avenging their deaths by murdering their mobster hitmen & raising them from the dead to attack the aforementioned teenage crime boss. And there you have it: zombie mobsters.
Of course, there are some glaring differences between Shrunken Heads‘ undead mafia & that of Innocent Blood. The most essential difference is that Innocent Blood‘s vampire mafia remained somewhat organized after their transformation while the zombie mafia in Shrunken Heads disassembles their crime ring in acts of undead mutiny. Still, the films’ basic undead mobster shenanigans & goofy horror comedy mayhem make them prime candidates for a tangentially-related double feature, one backed up by the nearness of their release dates. I don’t think Innocent Blood‘s vampire mafia aesthetic has been matched by any other slice of media, but I do think Shrunken Heads may have come to closest to hitting that benchmark.
For more on October’s Movie of the Month, 1992’s Innocent Blood, check out our Swampchat discussion of the film, this snapshot of the vampire-crowded box office that buried it, and last week’s look at John Landis’ list of works in the horror genre.