Vampire Swipes Right (Vampire in Brooklyn, 1995)

Vampire In Brooklyn was a meeting of minds. Eddie Murphy was coming off a string of films and sequels that were not failures, but not grand successes. Eddie states he agreed to make the film for the studio for the rights to the Nutty Professor.

Maximillion is the last of a clan of Caribbean vampires who arrives one night in Brooklyn via a large freighter. He is seeking a woman to be his queen, and to help him, turns small time hood Julian into a servant ghoul.

Maximillion is searching for a woman born of a vampire and he discovers police detective Rita ( ridiculously gorgeous Angela Bassett) is the woman he is seeking. As he tries to enter her life, he runs into competition from her partner.

Vampire in Brooklyn really feels like a movie competing with itself. On the one hand, it is a gory vampire flick. On the other hand? It is an Eddie Murphy comedy that has the things you expect, like Eddie in various costumes as side characters. One is an Al Sharpton styled preacher which does result in an amusing scene where he bursts into flame and convinces the congregation to rush outside.

It is not that comedy and horror cannot mix, and honestly it is hard to tell where the conflict lies. I have read accounts that Eddie and the other writers intended this to be a more serious vampire film and it was Craven who altered the tone. Other accounts suggest that Craven pushed for Eddie to play the role more serious and Eddie did his own thing.

The movie is full of terrific performers, and so there are plenty of fun bits. Kadeem Hardison’s Julius finds himself falling apart as his body begins to rot, which results in a lot of funny moments as he freaks out. John Witherspoon is funny. And I think it is the problem…these are all talented performers and creatives…but it often feels like they are all working in totally different movies.

Tele-Visions (Night Visions, 1989)

James Remar is Sergeant Thomas Mackey… a plays by his own rules guy who is forced to work with psychic Dr. Sally Powers (sigh) who has multiple personalities so solve his case. There is a serial killer who is killing women and…sigh.

Folks…I cannot say enough that this was a complete slog to get through. There were no surprises and it feel like the ultimate paycheck movie from Craven.

The characters are bland. The settings are boring. It feels like a dull; pilot for a dull series that the network wisely passed on. It is just terrible.

Shock Therapy (Shocker, 1989)

Shocker, Wes Craven’s follow up to the Serpent and the Rainbow is the entirely opposite animal. The story is that one night high school jock has a nightmare that a serial killer is murdering his family. He awakes and rushes to his family’s house where he is met by his police detective father who informs him their family has been slaughtered by the notorious local serial killer.

Using his dreams, Jonathan and his father ultimately identify and catch TV Repairman Horace Pinker. The evidence is damning and Pinker does not plead innocent, so it is a pretty slam dunk case. On the day of his execution, the guards find he has some elaborate set-up going on in his cell with his TV. While they fear he is killing himself, the audience can see he is performing some sort of ceremony.

Once in the chair, he uses his final words to to reveal that he is Jonathan’s real father. After the electrocution seems to go very wrong, they find Pinker is dead. But it turns out, Pinker’s body may be dead, but his spirit is alive and he can take over bodies.

Pinker and Jonathan begin a game where Jonathan hopes to find a way to stop Pinker’s new rampage, one where he can be anybody.

Where Serpent and the Rainbow was an attempt at a more serious film, and just a one off tale, Shocker feels like a blatant attempt to start a franchise with a new Freddy Krueger in Horace Pinker. But the inspiration is obviously from the late era Freddy. Pinker is a violent psychopath with a one liner for any situation. The dream connection feels like Craven was not even trying to set Pinker apart.

I enjoy a lot of the characters, even though the majority of them are fodder for Pinker to kill in his attempts to destroy Jonathan’s life. But without a doubt, Mitch Pileggi seems to be having a good time in the role.

Shocker gets incredibly goofy, as Horace can jump through TV signals as well as bodies. So when we see him outside of bodies he is transparent and has a static effect applied to him. When a person is possessed, the tell is that they have Pinker’s limp. I am not sure why his spirit would have a limp…but whatever, it is his tell. The goofiness goes off the rails when Jonathan and Pinker are flying in and out of TV shows and TV’s (landing in random living rooms, impacting television shows). And honestly? This is what kind of saves the movie.

While it lacks any nuance or deep themes, Shocker is a ridiculous and fun movie with a rock and roll soundtrack. I am almost a bit sad we never got Shocker’s two through six.

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