Combustible Celluloid
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With: Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Allen Payne, Kadeem Hardison, John Witherspoon, Zakes Mokae, Joanna Cassidy
Written by: Charlie Murphy, Michael Lucker, Chris Parker, based on a story by Eddie Murphy, Vernon Lynch, Charlie Murphy
Directed by: Wes Craven
MPAA Rating: R for strong language and vampire violence
Running Time: 100
Date: 10/27/1995

Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Afterlife of the Party

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Vampire in Brooklyn is considered one of Wes Craven's worst movies, but it doesn't really seem like it's his fault. It feels like a vanity project for star Eddie Murphy, who co-wrote it with his brother Charlie and co-produced. He probably had final say in certain areas; for example, in addition to playing the lead vampire Maximillian (with a Caribbean accent), he wears disguises and plays a preacher and an Italian gangster, using different makeup and voices for each. Also, it's known that this was Murphy's final film in his long contract with Paramount, and he might have just been trying to get the heck out.

In the story, his vampire comes to Brooklyn to find a particular mate who is already half-vampire. Apparently, if he doesn't find her, he'll die. It turns out she's police detective Rita Veder (recent Oscar nominee Angela Bassett), and he must work extra-hard to win her. To make matters more complicated, Rita's partner, Detective Justice (Allen Payne) has a crush on her, and she may have a crush on him back. Kadeem Hardison plays a comic role as a ghoul who serves Maximillian and whose body parts keep falling off. John Witherspoon plays his fast-talking uncle.

Another major problem is that the film is supposed to be a horror comedy, but no one seems quite sure where one stops and the other starts. But at least when the horror part starts, Craven knows what to do, and he creates some stunning, startling sequences. Another, slightly less important problem is that Murphy plays a bad guy and we're supposed to root for him to lose. Not that hard, in retrospect. At least this led Craven to his next film, Scream (1996), while Murphy had one of his biggest hits in his remake of The Nutty Professor.

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