Dracula: Dead and Loving It (United States, 1995)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

When it comes to spoofs of horror films, one of the greatest of all time is surely Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, a movie that's as clever as it is funny. Now, more than two decades later, Brooks has attempted to re-create the magic by doing to Bram Stoker's vampire legend what he did in 1974 to Mary Shelly's gothic tale. 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.

Maybe one of the problems is that there have been so many attempts to lampoon vampires. A few, like George Hamilton's Love at First Bite, have been genuinely funny. However, most, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Vampire in Brooklyn, have failed. With Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Brooks is far from virgin territory. Some of his jokes here have been used before, and, even for the good ones, familiarity mutes laughter.

Ultimately, however, Dracula is infected with the same disease that has plagued the last several Brooks films -- it's just not all that funny. Sure, there are humorous bits here and there throughout the running length, but not enough to justify an entire movie. Dracula: Dead and Loving It sputters as badly (or worse) than Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Life Stinks, and Spaceballs, to name a few. Whatever inspiration stirred Brooks to make Young Frankenstein has long since deserted him.

The storyline of Dracula: Dead and Loving It is an amalgamation of all the various screen incarnations of Stoker's tale. English businessman Renfield (Peter MacNicol) travels to Transylvania to meet with the mysterious Count Dracula (Leslie Nielsen). While staying at the count's castle, Renfield falls under Dracula's spell. Together, the two travel to England, where Dracula begins his reign of terror by draining the blood of two lovely women: Lucy (Lysette Anthony) and Mina (Amy Yasbeck). When Lucy's health fails, her guardian, Dr. Seward (Harvey Korman), and his assistant, Jonathan Harker (Steven Weber), call in the strange-but-brilliant Professor Van Helsing (Mel Brooks) to unmask the fiend.

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 (Airplane, The Naked Gun), 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 (are there any of them left?), 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. The general failure of this movie leads to one obvious question: why couldn't Brooks just leave Dracula dead and buried?

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (United States, 1995)

Run Time: 1:30
U.S. Release Date: 1995-12-22
MPAA Rating: "PG-13" (Sexual Situations, Profanity)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1