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Paramount Studios presents
Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

"Interesting. I've been stabbed, hung, and lost my head, but I've never been shot before. It kind of itches a little."
- Maximillian (Eddie Murphy)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: January 29, 2002

Stars: Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Allen Payne
Other Stars: Kadeen Hardison, Zakes Mokae
Director: Wes Craven

Manufacturer: DVXX
MPAA Rating: R for (strong language and vampire violence)
Run Time: 01h:42m:00s
Release Date: January 29, 2002
UPC: 097363298243
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B C-A-A- D

DVD Review

Vampire in Brooklyn is sort of an interesting departure for both its star, Eddie Murphy, and its director, Wes Craven. For Murphy, it was his first (and so far, only) flirtation with a character that, though comic at times, was also serious and downright evil. For Craven, it marked his first attempt at something other than a full-on horror film, and experiment with comedy. It seems that both personalities maybe went in different directions, and as a result, Vampire is not enough horror and not enough comedy; rather a lukewarm combination of the two into something unsatisfying. Some moments were funny and others, a bit creepy, but no one single style or personality controlled the film, and it does hurt it quite a bit.Eddie Murphy plays Maximillian, an ancient vampire who has been forced to leave his former home and wander the Earth searching for a legendary woman who is half-human/half-vampire, with whom he can breed and continue the bloodline. As the film begins, his search brings him to New York City, where the ship carrying him crashes into the docks—Maximillian having dined on the captain and crew. He immediately creates a ghoul servant, Julius (played by the nauseatingly goofy Kadeem Hardison), whom he can use as a daytime watchman. After settling in to a trashy apartment owned by the sleazy landlord Silas (John Witherspoon, in a genuinely funny role), he discovers that, without much effort, he's located the vampire woman he seeks. She turns out to be a police officer named Rita who, ironically, has been assigned to investigate the case of the crashed ship. Maximillian pursues her through brief visitations and mysteriousencounters, but she doesn't understand her own attraction to him, as she's unaware of her half-vampire side. Meanwhile, Silas collaborates with Dr. Zeko (Zakes Mokae) to stop Maximillian, much like a modern day Dr. Van Helsing.I think it's a rule of cinema that if you're going to mix horror and comedy, the result better either be a black comedy or something that knows precisely when to separate horror from comedy (the most perfect example I can think of is Fright Night, off the top of my head). Now, I'll admit, this is hard, if not virtually impossible. It's rare when the two elements can be stirred together successfully, and here they just don't work. The humor is pretty lame, at best, and a lot of it seems to be the fault of Murphy's rather ragged performance. One minute he's an evil vampire who would kill you in 2 seconds, the next he's spouting witticisms and clever remarks, all the while using a foreign accent that sounds less 'creepy' and more like his 'Old Jewish Man' imitation seen in other films and performances. He also tries to insert that kind of multi-character chemistry that worked well in John Landis movies, except this isn't that realm. His unwanted cameos as two other characters, as well as using Kadeem Hardison as the butt for 90% of the jokes, just doesn't work in this environment.While the funny isn't very funny, the serious is much too dark. I give credit to Wes Craven for some skilled direction and handling of the story, but he takes the film into territory where we expect to see horror, but we don't get much. I liked the touch of using Zakes Mokae as the mysterious Dr. Zeko (Craven and he having worked together well on The Serpent and the Rainbow), but again, it offsets the level of comedy so that neither side is represented properly. I eventually got to the point where I was unsure if the scene I was watching was supposed to be funny or terrifying. In all fairness, I think the talents here were bound to clash; Murphy likes straight comedy, Hardison hams it up too much, Craven is too moody for the plot, and Angela Bassett is too good an actress to play second fiddle. To wrangle all these elementsinto a success would be difficult, and in that sense, Vampire is less of a failurethan it could have been.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: There are few complaints in this nice, smooth-looking transfer. Despite some obvious grain in brighter sequences, since most of the film takes place at night or in very dark environments, the cinematography is appropriately moody and very clear. Obviously, shadow detail is very important here, and it's handled very well. There seemed to be no aggressive artifacts, and the depth of the image is extremely film-like and not affected adversely by the anamorphic enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: While not terribly active or earth-shattering, the Dolby 5.1 sound mix is extremely theatrical and seems to have been engineered very well . The soundfield has just the right ambience to fit the film, but never goes too far with exaggerated surround effects or pointless directional material. When the film does get more active, the soundtrack comes alive nicely when it needs to. Dialogue and all front-speaker material was without any distortion or other problems, and split-surround effects are subtle without overtaking anything the front throws out. There is good bass activity, but not something you'd use to demo your subwoofers. The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is similar, but lacks the crisp, theatrical feel of the 5.1 track. The French stereo track is pretty basic, without any frills or "home theater" feel to it.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: English subtitles and a theatrical trailer are provided, but no additional features. Presentation is basic and functional, but nothing special.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Eddie Murphy fans are probably split down the middle on this one, and I can see why. Despite the few good moments here, I honestly can't recommend it. Films likeVampire's Kiss, Innocent Blood, and Fright Night are muchbetter works in the same vein... pun intended.

 


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