This seemed like a somewhat ambitious project for both director Wes Craven and leading man Eddie Murphy. For Wes Craven, this was surely an opportunity to experiment with a more comedic direction, and for Eddie Murphy, it was an opportunity to play an uncharacteristically serious role. However, the end result struggles in its attempts to straddle horror and comedy, and there isn’t a lot of balance in either approach. The premise is closely similar to Interview with the Vampire, but the film itself is decidedly less subtle in its execution of the central concept. It’s not too bad, but they didn’t try very hard in terms of actually realizing the concept, but at least the lead character is a lot more likable than in that other film, in my personal opinion at least.
I was actually quite surprised by how straightforward the film was at the beginning. You see Eddie Murphy trying to pull off a variation of the Dave Vanian look while ripping a guy’s heart out of his chest, and later on, he disguises himself as two other characters. One of them is a hilarious parody of the stereotypical loud preacher, who proceeds to give the best speech in the whole movie. The other one, however, is an awkwardly stereotypical Italian-American character whose performance tends to be rather hit or miss. The acting tends to be quite corny, but not bad enough that it’s extremely off-putting. It would be somewhat decent if this were a made-for-TV film, but for a film intended for the cinema, there’s a lot of ways in which it seems like they cut corners wherever they could.
As usual, Eddie Murphy steals the show, but this time it’s because he’s trying to do something totally different to what we’d expect from him. Rather than try to be funny, Eddie’s trying to play his character totally straight, and it’s a bold attempt, but more often than not, it can turn into a comedic performance rather than a serious one, probably because of the film’s unintentionally campy approach to its subject matter. The production values don’t look very good, and unfortunately it’s one of those films where the dark aesthetic style tends to make the film look murky rather than dark. However, sometimes there are scenes that manage to pull off a nice atmospheric quality, and I suppose the special effects aren’t totally bad, but it’s nothing worth grabbing a bucket of popcorn for.
To me, the biggest problem is that they tried to market it as a more comedic horror film, when throughout the film a more serious horror direction tends to prevail. Then again, I doubt this would have been taken seriously if they marketed it as a straight-up horror film. Whatever the case, the result might have been the same no matter what the producers did. To me, despite it being derivative of other vampire films, this film actually might have had some potential, but it’s the rather clumsy direction that ruins everything.
- Score: 50%
- Grade: D