Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mel Brooks takes on Dracula

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1994)
Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Peter MacNicol, Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck, Mel Brooks, Harvey Korman, and Lysette Anthony
Director: Mel Brooks
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Mel Brooks lampoons the classic Universal Studios and Hammer Films Dracula movies, along with Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula". (Yeah, I know that's like spoofing a spoof, but Brooks redicules the most laughable bits of that travesty.)

"Dracula: Dead and Loving It" is a decent satire of Dracula movies manages to capture the look and feel of the Hammer Draculas quite nicely while at the same time evoking Tod Browning's "Dracula" from Universal through some of the sets and a very funny take off on my favorite moment from that films--where Dracula walks through a spider's web without breaking it and expects Renfield to follow him.

The cast are all very funny, with Leslie Nielsen's Bela Lugosi impersonation, with its well-timed, purposeful breaks in his accent, something that wil tickle the funny bone of any Lugosi or Dracula fan. (They even work in the "I never drink... wine" line in a very funny fashion, with Neilsen nailing the delivery spot-on.)

The wisdom of casting Nielsen as Dracula is especially evident in the two scenes where he is called upon to be scary. His roots as a dramatic actor show in these moments, and I think he can hold his head up proud in the company of Lugosi, Christopher Lee, and Jack Palance, three great movie Draculas who came before him.

The rest of the cast are equally good in their parts and the hilariously bad accents that everyone is doing ads greatly to the mirth in the film (I think I even heard Clive Revill doing a bad accent, and he really IS British!)

And I don't think anyone has quite managed to fill those flimsy nightgowns left over from the Hammer Films gothic horror costuming department as effectively as Amy Yasbeck and Lysette Anthony since principle photography wrapped on "Brides of Dracula" and "Dracula Has Risen From the Grave".

All the fantastic art design and sets and all the fun performances of the actors can't make up for the fact that the script simply isn't that funny. What we have here is no "Young Frankenstein." We don't even have "Robin Hood: Men in Tights". What we have here is a competently executed movie spoof, but there isn't a single moment that rises to the level of greatness seen in some of Mel Brooks' other comedies. Some scenes come close, such as the akward lunch shared by Dr. Seward (Korman) and the bug-eating Renfield (MacNicol), are hilarious. All the gags around that idiotic hairdo and cartoon shadow from that awful Copolla "Dracula" are also very funny. But, overall, this film falls short of every other Mel Brooks film I've watched for review purposes.

This is an okay Dracula spoof, but it's not up to the standards Mel Brooks set during the 1970s and 1980s.

Click here to read reviews of other films from Brooks at Cinema Steve.

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