We are all familiar with the stories of Dracula and Nosferatu regardless if we have read Bram Stroker’s 1897 novel or have seen F. W. Murnau’s 1922 silent film. This is essentially because this tale is everywhere we look: Nosferatu oddly appeared in perhaps one of the most disturbing scenes in SpongeBob; and Dracula can be seen warning the Mystery Gang to stay clear of his castle. Despite their overwhelming presence in popular culture, the two characters continue to emerge time and time again, and sometimes, through this re-emergence, the characters lose their appeal and transform into Eddie Murphy in Wes Craven’s Vampire in Brooklyn (1995).
Murphy: So check it out, we got a vampire.
Craven: That has been done before.
Murphy: Ah, that is where you are wrong. We have a vampire in Brooklyn.
Craven: Genius! Whatever would this film be called?
Murphy: Vampire in. . . Brooklyn.
Craven: Yes, yes. And what of the genre? What will it be?
Murphy: We will pitch it as a horror/comedy, that will neither be scary or funny.
Craven: My God, let’s not waste any more time!
The film begins with Silas Green (John Witherspoon) and Julius Jones (Kadeem Hardison) in a dockyard in Brooklyn. After an abandon ship crashes onto the dock, Silas finds that it is full of corpses and Julius runs away. Upon leaving the ship, two Italian mobsters gun Julius down and are about to kill him, cue the vampire Maximillian, (Eddie Murphy) with a grand entrance. Through amazing special effects, Maximillian rips out the heart of one mobster, and shreds the other into pieces flailing around props that I assume were bought from Party City. Naturally, Julius runs away only for Max to find him in order to turn him into his lackey, a ghoul.
Max tells Julius that he is looking for a woman who, aside from himself, is the last vampire left. However, this woman is half-vampire, half-human, and she is unaware of it! This woman turns out to be Rita Veder (Angela Bassett) an NYPD detective coping with her mother’s death from a mental illness. Rita and her partner Justice (Allen Payne) (I wonder who the hero will be, I wonder who will bring JUSTICE), arrive to the docks to inspect the boat. At the same time, Max informs Julius that his coffin is on the boat and that they need to retrieve it. A cop comes up to them with a guard dog and tells them that they cannot cross, so Max naturally commands the dog to “Jump!” and sends the dog rocketing to the ocean. Was it necessary? Absolutely not. Did it bring comedy into the film, not through the premise but in its horrible execution? Absolutely.
Rita inspects the boat alone and falls through the floor, finding Max’s coffin. She opens the coffin and sees an image of herself inside it. Max appears in the room and tells Rita, “It’s you,” before leaving – as if he was affirming that she was the half-vampire, like it was some mystery that the film created. Terrified, Rita brings Justice to the site and the coffin is gone (how unexpected),but they do find an ear on the ground. Apparently part of being a ghoul entails losing body parts randomly and often, and the film made sure to use this bit over and over. In the most realistic nightmare that I have ever seen, Rita becomes restricted by red, I want to say curtains, and she wakes up over dramatically, our first indication of Rita’s love for the theatrics.
Max tells Julius that the image of Rita in the coffin proves that she was meant to be his mate and asks him to find out her next location. Julius chauffeurs Max while Rita tells Justice about her life as they search for Dr. Zeko for advice on the case. Max informs Julius that Rita must consent to their relationship and that he only needs “One Dance,” as he prays, he prays that will make Rita fall for him. I should note that the station sought out this doctor for help in their investigation because he is a “specialist.” Dr. Zeko works in a reggae club called Zeko and he is a doctor specializing in the supernatural. Justice becomes annoyed with Zeko’s warnings, rather than the fact that the NYPD consults with supernatural experts, and leaves, while Rita stays behind. While there, Max approaches her and she claims that he seems familiar. How can she not remember the man who terrified her when she saw her own body in a coffin? Yet that question is not the biggest problem in this scene because a snake breaks loose and goes after Rita. Rita is standing by the bar while the snake is on the bar table, Rita has legs and can move away, instead Rita stands there and begins to cry that she is going to die. Max catches the snake and Rita agrees to dance with him yet Julius, in attempting to be a wing-man, deters her away and she returns to Justice.
Rita and Justice return to Rita’s house to have coffee, but Rita’s roommate is extremely horny for some reason and is overly flirtatious with Justice, causing Rita to retrieve to her room. She is so horny that after she chases Justice away, she decides to invite a stranger, Max, who was conveniently lurking, into her bedroom. The two have sex and Rita believes that it is Justice with Nikki so she goes back into her room to paint her frustrations resulting in the worst montage in the history of montages. Rita begins painting random red streaks while the camera switches to Max in red lighting killing Nikki and even though they are on the bed, blood somehow leaks from the keyhole of the door because the team probably realized that they have yet to make the movie scary. Max writes a note under the guise of Nikki in an attempt to alienate Rita and make her susceptible to him.
Instead, Rita goes to church, and it would not be an Eddie Murphy film if Eddie Murphy was not allowed to have multiple roles. Under the guise of the preacher, Max promotes necessary evil and convinces the whole congregation that evil is good. Meanwhile, Justice finds Rita because he knew that she would be there, at church in the middle of the night, instead of her own home, and Rita calls him out as she believes that he slept with Nikki. She then runs away, as she will always do. The two put their differences aside to investigate the killings of the mobsters and Max enters Guido, a belittled mobster, to allow Murphy to show off his acting skills once again. Guido takes Rita hostage and despite the fact that he is vastly out numbered, no one but the cat in the room does anything. However, Guido shoots the cat and Rita then realizes that she can fight him off and book him. For some reason, the mob boss holds his dead cat which is clearly a stuffed animal that has had its stuffing remove, actually this was for no reason. Why create an unnecessary scene that highlights a poorly used budget when the entire film already does it?
Justice argues with Rita about how she took down Guido and because fighting words are also loving words, the two are about to kiss until Guido brings up Nikki. For her actions, Rita receives a two day suspension and returns home. On her way home, a cab almost hits her and Max saves her, inviting her for dinner. Max can be seen looking like he just finished a jousting shift at the Medieval Times, yet he somehow manages to lure Rita into dancing with him and eventually, biting her neck.
Justice responds to a call and finds Nikki dead in a position that resembles a painting made by Rita. Instead of thinking that Rita is responsible for the murder, which seems like a logical conclusion, Justice comforts her, and instead of being concerned with her friend’s death, Rita is more concerned that she had made the painting. She begins kissing his neck and almost bites him until she sees herself in the mirror and watches herself disappear. She frantically runs through ongoing traffic screaming because it is dramatic, and finally wails her way to Max’s house. Max tells her that her father sent him for her and that she is a daughter of a vampire; her father sacrificed himself for her mother, and that is why she went insane.
Dr. Zeko tells Justice that he must kill Max before Rita feeds and loses her humanity, meanwhile, Max attempts to have Rita feed but upon seeing the image of him feasting on a woman, Rita runs away looking like a bootleg Michael Jackson in Thriller, an arguably scarier film, and it is not even a film!
Max brings Rita back to his home and tries to make her eat once more, and this time she is more tempted, yet Justice and Zeko arrive just in time. Zeko, the specialist on the supernatural, stabs Max in the stomach instead of the heart and causes us to endure another 30 minutes of the film. Justice, who is apparently a karate master, begins using super high kicks to fight Max, a vampire. Justice is also apparently strong enough to fight a vampire for a few minutes until losing. Rather than feeding on Justice, Rita informs Max that part of her loves him, yet that part must die and stabs him. Max transforms into a
shitty version of Beast, or a horribly done DIY of a werewolf costume, even though he is supposedly a vampire and dies. Justice asks Rita if she is alright and she responds with: “Cross my heart and hope to die.” What? What is the context of this? And why does she say it like this is some inspirational message that we should take away from the film? They begin to make out afterwards so maybe it is just a sexual innuendo in Brooklyn, cause that is where the film takes place, in Brooklyn, with a vampire.
Julius finds Max’s ring and becomes the new vampire, because that is just what the world needs, another vampire in Brooklyn – and the movie ends leaving us with the fear that a sequel may exist. Rest assured dear reader, it does not.
The character of Julius was clearly meant for comedic relief, and although the plot could have existed without him, he was highly needed to keep the film interesting. Now that is not to say that the plot was bad, but rather, it is a bit played out as it basically pulled strings from every existing romantic comedy and paired it essentially with the tale of Dracula. The rest of the film’s comedy stemmed from the cheesy special effects and the overly theatrical moments rather than from the script. Additionally, the only thing scary about this film is the fact that it managed to take a seemingly all star cast and produce Vampire in Brooklyn. Scratch that, the most comedic and horrific thing about this film was Eddie Murphy’s hair! How could he do that to himself when he wrote the screenplay and worked as the producer?!