AWESOME-tober-fest 2011: Dracula Dead and Loving It (1995)
This is it. The final day of AWESOME-tober-fest. This week I looked at lots of Dracula movies. I usually end these things with “Freaky Friday” in which I’ll review a particularly silly or spoof movie about the subject at hand. I did this with Billy the Kid last year. I also did it with last years’ werewolves AWESOME-tober-fest. So it goes this year. Today I’m going to look at a Mel Brooks spoof of Dracula from 1995.
That movie was Dracula Dead and Loving It. I originally saw this movie in the theater. I am a HUGE fan of Brooks’ Young Frankenstein which spoofs the first three Universal Frankenstein movies. So I was excited to see what Brooks had in store for Dracula. This movie not only spoofs the 1931 Universal Dracula, it also pokes fun at the 1992 Coppola Dracula and the 1958 Hammer Dracula.
So overall, this movie isn’t that funny. It’s more along the lines of a modern spoof movie like Date Movie or Disaster Movie. It’s nowhere near as satisfying as a Young Frankenstein. And it’s tough that Brooks had to live up to Young Frankenstein which is a nearly perfect spoof comedy, but that’s how I watched it. I enjoyed parts of it, though. Leslie Nielsen is okay as Count Dracula. The standout performance in the movie, however, is Peter MacNicol as Renfield. He really gets his crazy on and models his insanity on the original 1931 Renfield, Dwight Frye. He is a joy to watch. It looks like he had so much fun.
Steven Weber as Jonathan Harker isn’t bad either. Unfortunately, however, I’m not a huge fan of Weber’s Wings costar, Amy Yasbeck. I just don’t think she’s funny nor a good actress. She similarly tanked another Brooks movie, Robin Hood Men in Tights, which I thought was funny despite Yasbeck’s performance. And she was terrible in The Mask. How does she keep getting work?
This movie is all about the sight gags, so I’m not going to sit here and describe that to you. There are some genuinely funny moments onscreen, unfortunately, they come too infrequently. I really think the problem here is the script. Dracula is ripe for some parody, yet the material seemed thin and less a parody of Dracula and had more situational comedy. Maybe the movie would have been better with better actors. I don’t know. I just wish it would have worked more as a whole because I really like the idea of this movie. Like I said, these horror movies are ripe for a good parody (not looking at you Scary Movie 2-4).
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.