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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 58 - Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

I’m not a fan of Eddie Murphy.  I think he can be funny, in fact, I know he can, but I really don’t think he’s leading man material considering his past efforts.  However, it is apparently obvious he’s far too full of himself to back down to let another star take the lead and thus we got the beginning of the downfall of one of the biggest Hollywood careers of all time.  Vampire in Brooklyn is a sort of throwback to Blaxploitation films but doesn’t really do a good job of parodying that material.  So where does that leave us?

Vampire in Brooklyn follows Murphy as a vampire who is the last of his line.  If he does not find a mate his line will end and his legacy will be no more.  So he learns (through plot contrivance) of a woman who was born half-vampire and pursues her.  In the meantime said woman, Rita (Angela Bassett) is experiencing the side effects of the convenient psychic connection she has with her half-vampire bloodline.  There’s also another love interest who longs for Rita and tries to pull her to the side of good... or something.

The problem with Vampire In Brooklyn is it wants to be a comedy and a serious vampire story at the same time.  Its mythology is founded in a series of contrived plot points rather than any established history and it just feels thrown together.  This was a transparent attempt by Murphy to cash in on the previous year’s success of Interview with the Vampire, the chilling adaptation of Anne Rice’s bestselling novel.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but at least try to do something clever or original.  This is a cynical film marketed with limited appeal and given the rush treatment typical of a Hollywood bandwagon film.

Now, those who know me knew I would go this direction, but the trend of vampire movies is back in full effect thanks to the absolutely dreadful Twilight franchise.  Today’s vampires are solemn, boring and just emo.  The vampires in the 90’s were basically the same, except they were played by bigger stars.  Therefore, we got to see people we were used to acting lively and energetically perform melancholy, sad, vampires.  I hate this presentation of vampires myself.  The display of the tragedy of immortality is such an obviously weak attempt to fabricate tension and emotion and I don’t want any of that crap in my bloody monster movie.  Granted, the original tale of Dracula had its share of this drama, but that was in a book.  Books are not movies.  They are paced differently and have a different feel about them.  If your film character is boring (as Murphy is here), you have a big, big problem.  I prefer my vampires to be menacing, powerful, fast, violent and charismatic.  YES!  That’s it!  Charisma!  The Twilight vamps don’t have it today, and Murphy didn't have it then.  

When re-watching this film, I tried to forget the fact that, while I think Eddie Murphy is a good comedian, he’s not a good actor.  I wanted to judge this film based on its merit.  That search for merit then yielded no results.  There was no reason for this film to be made.  It is a poorly-written, poorly-acted movie that fails on the horror and on the comedy fronts.  Still, I find the reason I hated this movie so much lies in the overall look of the film.  This is an ugly, dank and dismal movie and none of the characters are presented to be attractive.  Angela Bassett is a beautiful woman, so the fact that she is made to look so unattractive in this weak movie is very, very telling.  This is one of Hollywood's big fails, and was the movie that ultimately sent Eddie Murphy down the road to Razzie-ville.

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