A Cinemasochists Second Look At Wes Craven…
Vampire In Brooklyn (1995)
Wes Craven's career has been to hell and back. He's made game changing films, but has also fumbled enough times to make a lesser director retire. We all know Nightmare On Elm Street and Scream, but what about Deadly Friend or Music of The Heart? Do THOSE hold up? I'm going to cherry pick some of the lesser known Wes Craven films and, in typical Cinemasochists form, see if they're worth your time or as bad as they've been made out to be.
In our previous post we saw Wes Craven take on the werewolf genre in an attempt to modernize and poke fun at it's most obvious conventions. 10 years before that he tried to do the same with the vampire genre. In the 1990's, vampires were big business. Bram Stoker's Dracula and Interview With The Vampire brought vampires back onto the fore front of popular culture. Eventually, vampires wore out their welcome and by 1995 there was not one, but TWO vampire spoofs on the market. There was Mel Brooks' Dracula: Dead and Loving It, which was a more straightforward spoof of the Bram Stoker novel and there was Wes Craven's Vampire In Brooklyn. Both films did not fare well at the box office and both were more or less forgotten mentions in the careers of both famous directors.
After an abandoned vessel with over a dozen dead bodies crashes into a dock in Brooklyn, we're introduced to Maximilian, (Eddie Murphy) a vampire from the Caribbean who after decades of searching, ends up in Brooklyn to find and feed on the daughter of a vampire in order to live past the next moon cycle. Said daughter, Rita, is played by Angela Bassett, who also happens to be a member of the NYPD investigating the murders on the ship alongside here partner, Justice (Allen Payne.) After having strange visions during the investigation, she and Justice decide to visit Dr. Zeko, a supposed vampire expert. While there, she meets Maximilian who spends the next third of the film trying to seduce her, but tends to fall short as we find out that Justice is also in love with Rita. With the help of Julius (Kadeem Hardison) his ghoul slave, Maximilian succeeds in getting Rita alone and bites her, slowly turning her into the undead. Justice turns to Zeko for help and finds out that Rita's father was a vampire and had bit her mother while she was doing research in the Caribbean. In order for Rita to stay fully human, she must not drink the blood of the living, which is exactly what Maximilian is trying to persuade her to do, so he can continue to live eternally.
The plot is a bit thick and there are other points to be made here, but why bother? This uneven story was written by Eddie Murphy, his brother Charlie and Vernon Lynch. With this sort of gothic plot and direction by one of the "Masters Of Horror" you'd think this would be scary, but the film falls more into comedy category rather than horror. The scares are few and far between and when they come, you barely notice because you don't really care. There are a handful of funny bits sprinkled about thanks to Kadeem Hardison's Julius and Johnny Withserspoon's Silas, who seem to be improvising the whole time. Overall though, most jokes, like the scares, fall flat and are uninspired.
The film was released with very negative reviews and barely enough box-office to break even. It certainly wasn't bad enough to hurt careers of Craven or Murphy however. The following year Scream and The Nutty Professor were released and renewed public and critical faith in both men.
I have a feeling this will fall in the very bottom of the Craven cannon. Proceed with caution. It's just about as bad as they say.
Cinemasochists Score: -7
(0 being tolerable and -10 being the worst)
You can stream on Netflix or rent on any VOD outlet.