Movie #318 2020: Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

Why has no one heard of this movie? It stars Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, and is directed by Wes Craven… So why has no one heard of it?! I certainly hadn’t! But the spooky season calls for spooky movies, so imagine my surprise when I found this one on Amazon Prime Video.

As you might expect, Vampire In Brooklyn sounds exactly like it says on the tin. Eddie Murphy plays the lead role of Maximillian; a vampire who comes to Brooklyn in order to find a way to survive the next full moon. His luck is out of this world, fortunately for him, as he meets an NYPD detective (Bassett) who unbeknownst to her is half vampire. All he has to do is enchant her in order to gain control, and for some reason – honestly, it’s not that clear – he’ll be able to remain on Earth.

The key here is to not take Vampire in Brooklyn all too seriously. It’s a clear and obvious homage to the campy nature of early (and not so early) vampire films. If you’re not getting that, you’re not watching it right. Wes Craven was quite explicitly not looking for serious drama here and being the master of horror that he is, you’ll probably know from his other films too that his horror is more for entertainment purposes than true fright fests. 

The cast have already been mentioned here, but let’s go into more detail. Having a predominantly African American main cast in 1995 is kind of brilliant. Trailblazing. We love to see it. And we certainly love to see Angela Bassett. Both leads are adequately over-exaggerated and comedic, and the supporting cast is littered with entertaining performances too. Kadeem Hardison plays Murphy’s sidekick – a young burn-out who he initially set out to kill – to maximum effect, providing most of the humour as he gradually falls apart due to the fact that he finds himself turning into a zombie as the film progresses.

Eddie Murphy himself is actually brilliant in all three of his roles. Yes, three. People never take him seriously but he is genuinely great here, particularly as the Italian guy – a total transformation and completely unrecognisable.

It’s ridiculous, it’s unrealistic, it’s a time capsule to the nineties… and it’s brilliant. Won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly mine. Plus the soundtrack absolutely slaps. Stevie Wonder‘s Superstition, Whatta Man, and No Woman, No Cry are just some examples of the movie’s excellent use of popular music.

Yes, the plot is an utter mess with too many different threads, but who cares? It’s all in good fun. The nostalgia hit me right in the face in this one, with its early Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes and I was truly entertained by the campiness of it all. It’s no Scream, but it’s bizarre fun nonetheless.

Vampire in Brooklyn is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

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