Picks and Pans Review: Vampire in Brooklyn

updated 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Kadeem Hardison, Allen Payne

There have been far funnier vampires than Murphy is in this laugh-free "comic tale of horror and seduction" (as the ads have it)—Bela Lugosi and George Hamilton, to name two. But none, including Bela, William Marshall and Christopher Lee, has been hammier than Murphy, who bares his phony fangs and glares his contact-lensed glare throughout what is essentially a straight vampire film that is bloodless except for the too-thin red stuff that keeps running out of people's necks. The only horror involved is that such a reputable actress as Bassett would squander her credibility in this lame enterprise.

Murphy plays a vampire who arrives in Brooklyn on a runaway freighter, seeking the vampirette of his nightmares. She turns out to be Bassett, a New York City cop whose mother was a maligned expert on the supernatural. There is a dorky romantic subplot in which both Murphy and Payne, Bassett's skeptical partner, lust after Bassett. The only amusing touch is when the endeavors of Hardison (A Different World), Murphy's mortal assistant, are hampered by the fact that his arms keep falling off.

Hard-core schlock director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street) heads straight for what Mad might call humorlessness in a jugular vein. They cram more pointless obscenity than wit into the script and insist on all the vampire-genre conventions—prophylactic garlic, demonic wolves, non-reflecting mirrors and stakes through the heart. Marshall's 1972 Blacula seems like a masterpiece of intellectual humor by comparison (R)

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