VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN - DVD of the Week
VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN
For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020
EDITOR’S NOTE: Eddie Murphy was a big star in the 1980s and ’90s, so when he came up with a script for a vampire flick who would say no? Someone should have. But Paramount Home Entertainment is convinced there are fans out there, hence a new Blu-ray release. My review was published in the Deseret News on Oct. 27, 1995.
"Vampire in Brooklyn" stars Eddie Murphy as Maximillian, the last of a race of vampires who have occupied the Bermuda Triangle … until recently. Now all are dead except him, so Max travels to Brooklyn to search for a woman who is half-vampire and doesn't know it.
Max arrives by ship, leaving the crew dead, of course, and turns a local drug-dealer named Julius (Kadeem Haridison) into his slavish ghoul. And it doesn't take them long to find the woman Max is seeking — she is one of the cops investigating the killings aboard the freighter, Rita Veder (Angela Bassett).
Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, 'Vampire in Brooklyn' (1995)
The rest of the film has Max trying to romance Rita, though she is already attracted to her partner, Justice (Allen Payne). Of course, Max doesn't play fair, using his supernatural powers to seduce her.
Along the way, the film specifically lampoons "Dracula," with several scenes and pieces of dialogue. It also steals the funniest gag from "An American Werewolf in London," which had Griffin Dunne as a character who dies but can't cross over to the afterlife, so his body gradually rots throughout the film. In this case, it's Julius who loses a hand, then an arm and ultimately an eyeball. Unfortunately, this time it just isn't funny.
Murphy, who co-wrote the film with his two brothers, Vernon Lynch Jr. and Charles Murphy (with a final polish by Michael Lucker & Chris Parker), is really off his game as gags fall flat, timing seems off and comics Hardison and John Witherspoon are allowed to adlib outrageously, which often takes them out of character.
The latter element might work if the film were more off the wall. That might also benefit the film's skit style. But instead, the movie seems to emphasize horror and gore over comedy.
Murphy's performance is pretty good most of the way but he needed a stronger director than horrormeister Wes Craven (the "Nightmare On Elm Street" films) to keep him in check. Craven's approach is very heavy-handed and the film's editing is quite choppy. (Murphy also cribs an idea from his own "Coming to America," playing a couple of additional characters in heavy makeup — in scenes that go on far too long and just don't deliver the laughs.)
As with "Strange Days," it is Bassett who fares best here, with a performance that is smart and bright, though her scripted part is rather weak. Payne is also good as her sincere partner, though he has little to do.
“Vampire in Brooklyn" is rated R for violence, gore, sex, profanity, vulgarity and drugs.