The Horror Honeys: A Comic Tale of Horror and Seduction!

A Comic Tale of Horror and Seduction!

A Head Honey Vampire Month Review by Kat

Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

Before hitting widespread meta horror fame in 1996 with Scream, Wes Craven had been testing the waters on familiar territory with New Nightmare (1994) and then opted for something new... a horror comedy starring Eddie Murphy as a vampire - the last of his kind. If this sounds like an unexpected matchup, you'd be right. Murphy agreed to do the picture to finish up his contract with Paramount, and also under the consideration that the rights to The Nutty Professor be released (uh, how did that pan out for you, Eddie?). What happened is a mix of Craven's horror aesthetic, Murphy's cringeworthy attempts at original comedy, and an African American vampire; something that hadn't been seen since Blacula... I'm not counting Troma's Def by Temptation (although Kadeem Hardison does show up in that film too).

The story (edited slightly for my amusement): Maximillian (Eddie Murphy) is the only survivor from a race of vampires on a Caribbean Island (which gives him an annoying as fuck accent that he forgets about sometimes), and as a vampire, he must find a mate to keep the line from ending. He knows that a child had been born to a woman who had a vampire father, and he searches for her in Brooklyn. Rita (Angela Bassett), a tough as nails Brooklyn cop, is that woman. Knowing that she is his last hope to continue his line and prolong his life, Max woos her and attempts to bring her to her blood-sucking destiny - but it must be her choice.

Wes Craven is no stranger to the darker side of comedy, and birthed one of our favorite gallows humor personalities; however, the comedy in Vampire in Brooklyn is all Eddie Murphy - and you can tell because if you've seen his movies before, you've seen all of his personalities before too. Nutty Professor, Coming to America... it's all here, right down to familiar makeup and prosthetics work. The jokes are familiar as well, but it's nice to see a little bit of Wes Craven peeking through.

Craven's touch comes through in other ways: visual design, and the limited amount of gore that we do get to see, plus some hints of the voodoo he had visited in Serpent and the Rainbow only a few years earlier. Beautiful paintings, (that Van Gogh happens to be one of my favorites too, Rita) a killer sense of style, and enough interesting things happening to keep the casual viewer on their toes.

Another interesting tidbit about Vampire in Brooklyn, Wes Craven revealed in The Directors (1999) that Murphy ignored his requests to keep the character of Max a sympathetic one, preferring instead to take his own direction and play to the "humor" of the script. I often wonder what the film would have looked like if that character was played more as a mournful antihero than a wise cracking, single-minded dick in a bad wig.

Wes Craven's love of Final Girls continues with Vampire in Brooklyn, and Rita is a straight up, take-no-prisoners badass. Rita is no angel, but she's no wilting violet either. Independent, career driven, and confident, Rita is actually the perfect mate for our lead vampire. However, her compassion for her fellow man is the stumbling block to giving herself completely to the charming, and mysteriously hypnotic, Max.  

"... you can push a $2 ho to the line!"
Comic relief comes in the form of a street hustler, Julius Jones (Kadeem Hardison) and the always hilarious (if usually repetitive) John Witherspoon as Silas Green - a.k.a: the exposition. Julius is actually one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film when it comes to comedy - under Max's ghoul spell, he must serve the vampire until he falls apart, or gets promoted. Eddie Murphy's comic relief is something that, as a fan of his films, I can honestly say reached its peak back in the late 80s. By the mid-90s he was re-tooling old material and trying desperately to get laughs out of material that really didn't deserve big screen play. Murphy plays 3 characters in Vampire in Brooklyn - the suave Maximillian, an Italian thug named Guido, and a Nutty Professor character, Preacher Pauley. He performs all of these roles acceptably, and each one is memorable in its own way... but is it new and different? No. Not really.

You beast fucked her! 
Personally, Vampire in Brooklyn is one of those films that I tend to watch as background noise, and then end up getting distracted by the visuals, and then sucked into the story. Yes, I cringe while Eddie Murphy is pretending he's as hilarious as he was in the 80s, but thankfully there's enough going on that I can forget about that and focus on what works about the film. Come for the old school horror aesthetic, the dark touch of Craven's horror roots, and stay for the genuinely good performances from Kadeem Hardison and Angela Bassett.

Head Honey verdict: 3.5 heavy vampire prosthetics out of 5

I'd like to thank Greg Nicotero for adding some
legit horror makeup cred to this film.

Vampire in Brooklyn is available via Netflix Streaming, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, and DVD

Would you hang with vampire Eddie in Brooklyn?
Tell me on Twitter: @horrorhoneys