Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

Dracula: Dead and Loving It is a 1995 comedy film directed by
Mel Brooks. It is a parody of the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker,
and of some of the films it inspired.

In respect to plot and characters, 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
movies, the most recent Dracula adaption, Bram Stoker's
Dracula (1992). As of today, it is the last film to be directed
by Brooks.


The year is 1893, solicitor Thomas Renfield (Peter MacNicol)
travels all the way from London to Transylvania to meet an
important client. His destination is a place called "Castle
Dracula." As he nears the end of his journey, the sun sets,
and the stagecoach driver refuses to take him any further.
Kindly villagers plead with him to turn back, but Renfield,
explaining "You don't understand; I'm expected!",
continues on foot.

Renfield arrives safely and meets Count Dracula
(Leslie Nielsen), a charming but rather strange man who is,
of course, a vampire. Dracula signs the papers finalizing the
purchase of Carfax Abbey in England, and Renfield retires for
the night. He wakes up when two Brides of Dracula come
gliding seductively in. They are about to finish him off when
the Count appears and orders them out of the room. 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, starting with the
first mate, eventually killing everyone by the time he reaches
England. He goes ashore, leaving Renfield behind. When
Renfield (by this time raving mad in the style of Dwight Frye)
is discovered alone on the ship, he is confined to a lunatic

Meanwhile, Dracula visits an opera house, where after a
hypnotism affect gone wrong, he introduces himself to his
new neighbors: Doctor Seward (Korman), owner of the
asylum where Renfield is being held, and a believer in
enemas as a sovereign remedy for mental illness; Seward's
assistant, Jonathan Harker (Weber); Seward's nubile daughter
Mina (Amy Yasbeck), engaged to Harker for the past five years;
and Seward's ward, the equally nubile Lucy (Lysette Anthony).
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 (Mel Brooks). 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.

Dracula releases Renfield from the asylum, and orders him
to get rid of the garlic. Renfield, however, can't resist first
lifting the covers of Lucy's bed and taking a peek. Lucy
screams, and Seward and Harker rush in and recapture
Renfield. Dracula then uses mind-control to make Lucy
leave her room, and kills her in the garden.

Van Helsing meets Dracula and begins to suspect him of
being the local vampire; he also becomes embroiled in a
last-word competition with the Count. Lucy, now a vampire
herself, rises from her crypt, drains the blood from her guard,
and tries to attack Harker. 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, causing an improbable
amount of blood to gush out ("She just ate!" explains Van
Helsing, standing well back, having done this kind of thing
before). Then Van Helsing orders Jonathan to stab her in the
heart once more, much to Jonathan's refusal as he predicts
more blood will gush out, which does happen as soon as
Jonathan stabs her one last time.

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. Mina does not loathe the Count, as she does
in Stoker's novel; on the contrary, she seems to enjoy his
attentions. 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.

Van Helsing devises a plan to reveal Count Dracula's secret
identity. He invites the Count to a ball, and places a huge
mirror, covered with a curtain, on one of the walls. Dracula
arrives, and dances the Csárdás with Mina. Suddenly, the
curtain over the mirror is dropped, and guests are stunned
to see Mina's reflection seemingly dancing by itself. Dracula
grabs Mina and escapes out a window. Renfield, also at the
ball, impulsively shouts after him "Master! Master!... I mean,
Mister! Mister!" in an attempt to disguise the fact that he is
serving Dracula. He is immediately locked up again, while
Van Helsing, Seward, and Harker search for Dracula.

Van Helsing deduces that Renfield is Dracula's slave, and
thus might know where he keeps his coffin. 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 and flies up
into the darkness of the attic ceiling.

Renfield flings open a trapdoor and shouts "This way, Master!",
flooding the room with light and reducing his master to ashes,
but not before he mutters in a humorously high-pitched tone
Renfield, you asshole!! Mina, sweet and innocent once more,
leaves with Jonathan; Renfield mourns Dracula for a moment,
then becomes Seward's slave; and Van Helsing shouts
"Fushta!" at the pile of vampire-ashes, thinking he's finally
getting the last word. However, at the end of the credits,
Dracula chants a threatening "Sylvania!" and he ends it with
an evil and taunting chuckle.


-Leslie Nielsen as Count Dracula
-Peter MacNicol as Thomas Renfield
-Steven Weber as Jonathon Harker
-Amy Yasbeck as Mina Seward
-Lysette Anthony as Lucy Westenra
-Mel Brooks as Abraham Van Helsing
-Harvey Korman as Dr. Seward
-Anne Bancroft as Madame Ouspenskaya (Gypsy Woman)


Critical reaction to Dracula: Dead and Loving It has been
mostly negative, with the film earning a rating of only 4%
on Rotten Tomatoes. James Berardinelli of ReelViews wrote:

"Alas, 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. ... 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

Joe Leydon of Variety said, "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. ... Dead and
Loving It is so mild, it comes perilously close to blandness."

Fonts: Wikipedia

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