Dracula: Dead and Loving It

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Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Drac dead and loving it.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mel Brooks
Produced by Mel Brooks
Executive:
Peter Schindler
Screenplay by Mel Brooks
Rudy De Luca
Steve Haberman
Story by Rudy De Luca
Steve Haberman
Based on Dracula characters 
by Bram Stoker
Starring Leslie Nielsen
Mel Brooks
Peter MacNicol
Steven Weber
Amy Yasbeck
Lysette Anthony
Harvey Korman
Music by Hummie Mann
Cinematography Michael D. O'Shea
Edited by Adam Weiss
Production
company
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • December 22, 1995 (1995-12-22)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
Country United States
France
Language English
German
Budget $30 million
Box office $10,772,144[2]

Dracula: Dead and Loving It is a 1995 satirical comedy horror film directed by Mel Brooks and starring Leslie Nielsen. It is a spoof of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, and of some of the films it inspired. As of 2014, this is the last film Brooks directed.

Brooks co-authored the screenplay with Steve Haberman and Rudy De Luca. He also appears as Dr. Van Helsing. The film's other stars include Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck, Peter MacNicol, Harvey Korman, and Anne Bancroft.

The film follows the classic Dracula (1931), starring Bela Lugosi, in its deviations from the novel. Its visual style and production values are particularly evocative of the Hammer Horror films. It spoofed, among other films, The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).

In the film references are made to fictitious books Transavia Folk Law, The Theory and the Theology of the Evil Undead, The Vampires of Prague and Nosferatu. The Vampires of Prague is a reference to the film Mark of the Vampire (1935) and Nosferatu is also a reference to the film of the same name released in 1922.

Plot[edit]

The year is 1893: solicitor Thomas Renfield travels all the way from London to "Castle Dracula" in Transylvania to finalize Count Dracula's purchase of Carfax Abbey in England. As the sun sets, and the stagecoach driver refuses to take him any further, Renfield continues on foot despite the villagers pleading with him to turn back.

Renfield arrives safely and meets Count Dracula, a charming but rather strange man who (unbeknownst to him) is a vampire. He then casts a hypnotic spell on the suggestible Renfield, making him his slave. Dracula and Renfield soon embark for England. During the voyage, Dracula dines upon the ship's crew. When the ship arrives and Renfield, (by this time raving mad in the style of Dwight Frye), is discovered alone on the ship, he is confined to a lunatic asylum.

Meanwhile, Dracula visits an opera house, where he introduces himself to his new neighbors: Doctor Seward, (the lunatic asylum's administrator and head psychiatrist, who is obsessed with prescribing his patients enemas), Mina (Seward's nubile daughter), Jonathan Harker (Seward's assistant and Mina's fiance), and Lucy (Seward's equally nubile ward). Dracula flirts with Lucy and, later that night, enters her bedroom and feeds on her blood.

The next day, Mina discovers Lucy still in bed late in the morning, looking strangely pale. Seward, puzzled by the odd puncture marks on her throat, calls in an expert on obscure diseases, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing informs the skeptical Dr. Seward that Lucy has been attacked by a vampire. After some hesitation, Seward and Harker allow garlic to be placed in Lucy's bedroom to repel the vampire. After a failed attempt by Renfield to remove the garlic, Dracula uses mind-control to make Lucy leave her room, and kills her in the garden. Despite Van Helsing's warnings, Seward refuses to believe him.

Van Helsing meets Dracula and begins to suspect him of being the local vampire after the two trade words and phrases in Moldavian, each attempting to have the last word in the foreign language 'discussion'. Lucy, now a vampire herself, rises from her crypt, drains the blood from her guard, and tries to attack Harker, who had come to watch over her grave to be sure if Van Helsing was indeed right. Van Helsing rushes in just in time and chases her back to her coffin with a crucifix. Jonathan drives a stake into Lucy's heart, allowing her to at last rest in peace.

Dracula's next victim is Mina, but he has bigger plans for her; he wants her to be his undead bride throughout eternity. He spirits her away to Carfax Abbey, where they dance, and he sucks her blood. The following morning, she is unusually frisky, and tries to seduce the prudish Jonathan. Van Helsing becomes suspicious at this strange behavior. Noticing a scarf around Mina's neck, he removes it, revealing two puncture marks. Though she lies about how she got them, Van Hesling confirms she has been attacked by a vampire by placing a cross on her hand, which burns a mark into it.

Van Helsing devises a plan to reveal the vampire's secret identity. Both Dracula and Renfield are invited to a ball, where Van Helsing has placed a huge mirror, covered with a curtain, on one of the walls. The curtain over the mirror is dropped, and guests are stunned to see that Dracula has no reflection. Dracula grabs Mina and escapes out a window.

Van Helsing deduces that Renfield is Dracula's slave, and thus might know where he has taken his coffin after a search of Carfax turns up empty. He lets him out of his cell, and the three men secretly follow him to Dracula's lair. Once discovered, the Count locks himself in a room to finish making Mina his bride. His pursuers break down the door, and they fight. Van Helsing, noticing sunlight creeping into the room, starts opening the blinds. As his body begins to burn, Dracula transforms himself into a bat to flee, but is inadvertently killed by the inept Renfield opening a panel of the roof.

With Dracula finally vanquished, Renfield falls into despair with no master to serve. Seward tells him "You are free, now", and he realizes this to be true with Dracula gone, and seems relieved. But when Dr. Seward calls for Renfield to follow him out of the church, he follows with "Yes, Master". Van Helsing dusts himself off, opens Dracula's coffin and yells something in Moldavian to ensure that he has the final word between himself and the count.

However, Dracula somehow manages to have the last word as, after the end credits roll, he makes one final statement in the same language, at which point the film fades entirely to black.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Principal photography began in May 1995 and wrapped in September 1995.

Reception[edit]

Critical reaction to Dracula: Dead and Loving It has been overwhelmingly negative, with the film earning a "rotten" rating of only 11% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews and a 3.1/10 rating.[3]

James Berardinelli of ReelViews wrote: "[...] Dracula: Dead and Loving It doesn't come close to the level attained by Young Frankenstein. It's a toothless parody that misses more often than it hits. ... Given the comic turn his career has taken since the early '80s, it's hard to believe that Leslie Nielsen was once a serious actor. These days, thanks to the Zucker brothers [...], he has become an accomplished satirical performer. His sense of timing is impeccable, and this asset has made him a sought-after commodity for a wide variety of spoofs. Here, Nielsen takes on the title role, but his presence can't resurrect this stillborn lampoon. Unless you're a die hard Mel Brooks fan, there's no compelling reason to sit through Dracula: Dead and Loving It. The sporadic humor promises some laughs, but the ninety minutes will go by slowly."[4]

Joe Leydon of Variety wrote: "Leslie Nielsen toplines to agreeable effect as Count Dracula, depicted here as a dead-serious but frequently flustered fellow who's prone to slipping on bat droppings in his baroque castle. ... Trouble is, while Dead and Loving It earns a fair share of grins and giggles, it never really cuts loose and goes for the belly laughs. Compared with the recent glut of dumb, dumber and dumbest comedies, Brooks's pic seems positively understated. Indeed, there isn't much here that would have seemed out of place (or too tasteless) in comedy sketches for TV variety shows of the 1950s. ... As a result, unfortunately, Dead and Loving It is so mild, it comes perilously close to blandness. ... The only real sparks are set off by MacNicol as Renfield, the solicitor who develops a taste for flies and spiders after being bitten by Dracula."[5]

Despite the reviews, the film, like many of Brooks's later films, has gained a cult following in later years.[citation needed]

Box office[edit]

The film debuted at #10.[6] By the end of its run, Dracula grossed $10,772,144.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "DRACULA : DEAD AND LOVING IT (PG)". PolyGram Filmed Entertainment. British Board of Film Classification. April 23, 1996. Retrieved October 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Dracula: Dead and Loving It at Box Office Mojo Retrieved October 14, 2013
  3. ^ "Dracula: Dead and Loving It". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  4. ^ "Dead and Loving It - A Film Review by James Berardinelli". reelviews.net. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  5. ^ "Dracula: Dead and Loving It - Review by Joe Leydon". variety.com. 1995-12-17. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  6. ^ Dutka, Elaine (1995-12-27). "Weekend Box Office : 'Exhale' Blows Down the Competition". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 

External links[edit]