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VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN ($25) is another Eddie Murphy movie with a bad reputation- some of it is justified; some of it is not. VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN is also a Wes Craven movie, so the obvious intent of the film is to mix Eddie Murphy comedy with Wes Craven horror. This, unfortunately, leaves VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN with a split personality, because the film’s comedy doesn’t fuse at all with the horrific elements. As I watched VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN, I became aware that the comedy elements were the film’s central problem, and, had they been removed and some scenes re-shot, this could have been a solid horror outing. Additionally, had Eddie Murphy given a straight performance throughout, and not resorted to embodying multiple characters, I think he could have successfully made the transition into the horror genre with this film. Wes Craven’s direction is solid throughout the course of the film, and it is because of Craven’s sense of pacing and his ability to create the necessary horror atmosphere, VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN shows that it had potential to be something quite different and quite good.

In VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN, Murphy portrays Maximillian, the last surviving vampire. Arriving in Brooklyn, from an island in the Bermuda Triangle, Maximillian has come in search of a half vampire female to be his mate for the rest of eternity. Although his search doesn’t take long, Maximillian still find it necessary to turn a streetwise numbers runner named Julius (Kadeem Hardison) in to his rotting ghoul of a servant. With the number of bodies he has left in his wake, Maximillian soon meets up with Rita (Angela Bassett), an NYPD homicide detective, who turns out to be the woman he is searching for. Much of VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN is concerned with Maximillian wooing and winning of Rita, which unfortunately allows too much time for the film’s unnecessary comedy. Murphy is not bad portraying the vampire, and as I stated above, had the film not resorted to comedy, he could have scored with his performance. Angela Bassett, who plays it straight throughout, fares much better in her role. Kadeem Hardison is saddled with a role that no one could save- as if having his rotting body parts drop off was going to generate big laughs. The cast of VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN also includes Allen Payne, John Witherspoon, Zakes Mokae, Joanna Cassidy, Simbi Khali, Messiri Freeman, Jerry Hall and an uncredited Mitch Pileggi.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Overall, this is a very good-looking transfer that is somewhat limited by the stylistic choices in the film’s cinematography. Since most of the film takes place at night, VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN is a dark film; with the addition of plenty of atmospheric fog and smoke, you sometimes get a grainy, and less than crisp picture. Of course, daylight and scenes film, and those filmed under careful lighting appear sharp and very well detailed- maybe too well detailed, since Eddie Murphy’s hairpiece becomes a bit obvious in his close-ups. Colors are strongly saturated and quite vibrant, plus flesh tones almost always appear natural. Warm hues tend to dominate much of the film and they are reproduced with complete stability. Blacks are completely inky and shadow detail is quite good. Digital compression artifacts maintain a relatively low profile throughout.

For this release, VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Unfortunately, my sample exhibits an error, which transposes a forward and a rear channel. That being the case, I listened to the alternate Dolby Surround soundtrack that is also encoded onto VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN. The Dolby Surround track holds up rather well, providing an engaging forward soundstage and atmospheric usage of the surround channels. Dialogue is cleanly rendered, although it was a bit crisper sounding on the portion of the Dolby Digital track that I listened to. A French stereo track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN is a film that I both like and dislike. The horror elements work, while the film’s comedy does not. VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN is a film that the fans of both Eddie Murphy and Wes Craven will want to check out, just to see where the project went awry. 

Note: Paramount is offering to exchange copies of VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN that exhibit the audio problem that I mentioned above.  If you have a copy of VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN that exhibits the audio problem, please call 1-800-308-3633 to swap out your DVD for a corrected one.


Vampire in Brooklyn


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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