Monday, October 31, 2011

Dracula: Dead And Loving It (1995)

A Mildly Entertaining Yet
Ultimately Poor Effort From Mel Brooks

- Perhaps intentionally or simply inevitably similar to his highly-acclaimed Young Frankenstein (1974), Mel Brook's Dracula: Dead And Loving It (1995) spoofs the classic horror genre of the 1930s and 1940s (specifically the 1931 Bella Lugosi-starring Dracula). However, very much unlike Young Frankenstein, Dracula: Dead And Loving It is not very clever and not very funny. Not only is it not very funny, the first quarter or so of the film is so unfunny it is embarrassing to watch. Brooks has never really used high-brow humor in his films but the "humor" seen Dracula: Dead And Loving It strives a bit too lowbrow and we see a lot of childish slapstick as a result.

The film slowly gets a little bit better as it goes on and a few genuinely funny moments jump in here and there but for the most part there are few real laughs to be had. Also, though perhaps it would have been a bit too much like Young Frankenstein and trying to remake success a bit too safely (though it is already close enough), I think that Dracula: Dead And Loving It should have been made in black-and-white. I know that the Hammer Horror films were made in color and that most audiences do not want to watch black-and-white films anymore but if one is going to spoof the original Dracula film almost scene-for-scene, it would be best in black-in-white.

The cast makes the most of the material: Steven Weber gives an admirable straight-man turn as Jonathan Harker, Amy Yasbeck basically does the same thing as Mina in this film that she did in Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993) (act really helpless and half-wittedly sexy), and Harvey Korman shows up and does not screw anything up in his role as Dr. Seward. Unfortunately none of these actors are half-way memorable and Peter MacNicol is particularly miscast as a moronic Renfield. Really the only worthwhile performances in the film come from Leslie Nielsen in a (mostly) surprisingly subdued performance as Count Dracula and Mel Brooks who is the best performer in the film as Van Helsing - the scenes that feature both Nielsen and Brooks are easily the best in the film.

Growing up with Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993) and Spaceballs (1987) and later appreciating Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles (1974), I think Mel Brooks is the king of spoofing. So it with a heavy heart that any Mel Brooks fan, let alone me, admits that the last film that Mel Brooks ever directed, Dracula: Dead And Loving It, was a dud. What a sour note to go out on; Dracula: Dead And Loving It is mildly amusing and, in the end, watchable but it lacks the cleverness and belly laughs that many other Mel Brooks films have delivered before.

CBC Rating: 5/10

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