Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on December 22, 1995
Directed by Mel Brooks
Written by Mel Brooks, Rudy De Luca, and Steve Haberman
Cast: Leslie Nielsen, Peter MacNicol, Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck, Mel Brooks, Harvey Korman, Mark Blankfield, Clive Revill, Lysette Anthony, Avery Schreiber, Charlie Callas, Megan Cavanagh, Jennifer Crystal, Rudy De Luca, Anne Bancroft
I hate to say this, but I will anyway: the original 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi had plenty more laughs than this tepid excuse of a parody did. Believe me, I’m not saying Lugosi was a funnier man than Leslie Nielsen, but sheesh, could a Dracula spoof that had some talent behind it at least have some solid smarts behind it, too? I don’t know what happened to writer-director Mel Brooks between High Anxiety and this project (Dead and Loving It was his last as a director, by the way), but whatever it was, it ruined him. And ruined this film in the process.
Gone were the laughs, the comedic timing, the acting, the wit, and the all-around fun time that were present in such Brooks favorites as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein; instead, we had a dry, unfunny, and slow-moving take on the Dracula vampire legend, which was frustrating if you’re a fan of Brooks’ earlier work, especially with source material that was so ripe with possibility. Seriously, with all the vampire films out there both old and new, the three writers couldn’t spend a weekend watching some VHS rentals and brainstorming something good and funny?
Surprisingly, there were portions of the screenplay that remained faithful to Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough: here, Renfield and the Count travel from Transylvania to England, where Dracula moves into his new home, and Renfield, who has become his slave, is committed to an insane asylum for eating one too many bugs. Dracula soon meets neighbors Doctor Seward and Jonathan Harker, gets the hots for Seward’s daughter and his sexy ward, and then must contend with the schtick of Brooks’ Van Helsing. From there, it’s just one worthless joke and sight gag after another.
Leslie Nielsen did his best with the material presented to him, and thankfully Harvey Korman was cast in a small but pivotal role, harking back to the glory days of Brooks’ better comedies, but their talents were left in neutral, and it made me wonder how this film would’ve fared if it were made by Brooks in the ’70s; how can you replace Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, and Madeline Kahn with Stephen Weber, Peter MacNicol, and Amy Yasbeck? You can’t, and you shouldn’t, and I’d deliver the same warning to anyone who might want to take their chances with Dracula: Dead and Loving It: you can’t, and you shouldn’t. (3/10)