When the filmography of Eddie Murphy is held up for consideration, 1995’s Vampire In Brooklyn, directed by horror maestro Wes Craven, stands out as a particularly odd aberration. Not particularly funny, nor dramatic, nor thrilling, it befuddled audiences and critics alike, and is remembered (if at all) as a misfire in the actor’s canon. It’s the kind of movie that makes you think, “Didn’t anyone realize what was happening when this was being made?” (In that sense, it’s a perfect candidate for the How Did This Get Made? podcast.) After all, surely the people involved had a sense that nothing was really working.
Now, thanks to Hopes&Fears, we’ve got an oral history of the making of Vampire In Brooklyn that confirms exactly what you’d suspect—namely, that this project was doomed almost from the beginning. It’s a deliciously juicy exposé of the clashing ideas and egos at work behind the scenes of the troubled production. An early quote from one of the guys brought in to work on Charlie Murphy’s script sums it up nicely: “Paramount said to us, in our first meeting about Vampire In Brooklyn, ‘We want this movie to be funny. Eddie Murphy does not want to be funny. It’s your job to trick him into being funny.’ Uh, okay. Somehow they thought we’d be able to do this.”
There’s also a hefty dose of blame to be laid directly at the comic superstar’s feet: “You know the opening scene, where the ship is coming into harbor, and you see the Statue Of Liberty and the World Trade Center? We shot that in Long Beach, California. We lit up the whole deal, smoked it up, and we were ready for Eddie. Then we get a call. ‘Eddie’s still at home.’ You mean in Beverly Hills?” The whole thing is a delight, and a reminder that sometimes, all the money in the world can’t corral the average Hollywood ego.