Vampire in Brooklyn ★★½

Throughout the 1980s, Eddie Murphy starred in a string of blockbuster hits like Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America. In 1989, he took the directorial reigns of a film that co-starred comic legends Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor called Harlem Nights. It flopped, as did many of his subsequent films, until 1996 when he starred in the remake of The Nutty Professor.

For his part, director Wes Craven played a significant hand in redefining the horror genre in the 1970s with such films as The Last House on The Left and The Hills Have Eyes, and landed a major hit with 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street. After that his films were a little hit-or-miss, til he busted up the genre again with 1996's Scream.

So you have two famous men collaborating on a horror-comedy right before significant career upswings. Was it successful?

Not especially. Murphy blamed the wig.

So why am I telling you about it? Because it's unique. It's the funny Wes Craven, scary Eddie Murphy movie, and it's not nearly as terrible as you might want to think it will be.

Murphy plays a vampire named Maximillian, who comes to Brooklyn from the Caribbean to find a female half-vampire (Angela Bassett), because the rest of his tribe has all been killed off and she's the last descendant. As he explains in his opening monologue, "a vampire alone is a vampire doomed."

Or something.

He doesn't have to look too hard, because as luck would have it, she's one of the detectives assigned to investigating all the wreckage and dead bodies Maximillian leaves in his wake.

True to form, Murphy also plays two other characters, a black preacher named Pauly, and an Italian street thug named Guido.

Maximillian enlists the help of street hustler Julius Jones (Kadeem Hardison), who he enslaves as a ghoul. Jones spends the rest of the movie rotting and falling apart.

Rounding out the cast you've got Allen Payne from New Jack City, John Witherspoon, the dad from Friday, and Zakes Mokae, the bad guy from Craven's The Serpent and the Rainbow.

The story itself doesn't make very much sense. Why can't a vampire just find a human woman he likes and bite her and make her a vampire? Plus, Murphy doesn't exactly exude evil. Through the wig, the fangs and the glowing eyes, you still kind of expect him to put a banana in someone's tailpipe.

The movie isn't a total loss, though.The makeup FX are good, there's a lot of really slick editing, and Hardison and Witherspoon are pretty funny.