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Dracula: Dead and Loving It

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mel Brooks
Produced by Mel Brooks
Peter Schindler
Written by Characters
Bram Stoker
Story
Rudy De Luca
Steve Haberman
Screenplay
Mel Brooks
Rudy De Luca
Steve Haberman
Starring Leslie Nielsen
Peter MacNicol
Steven Weber
Amy Yasbeck
Lysette Anthony
Harvey Korman
Mel Brooks
Music by Hummie Mann
Cinematography Michael D. O'Shea
Editing by Adam Weiss
Studio Castle Rock Entertainment
Gaumont
Brooksfilms
Distributed by Columbia Pictures (USA)
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (UK)
Release date(s) December 22, 1995
Running time 88 min.
Country United States
France
Language English
German
Budget $15 million
Gross revenue $10,772,144 (domestic)

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 2010, it is the last film to be directed by Brooks.

Contents

Plot

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 asylum.

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. 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.

Cast

Reception

Critical reaction to Dracula: Dead and Loving It has been mostly negative, with the film earning a rating of only 4% on Rotten Tomatoes.[1] 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 slowly."[2] 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."[3]

Production notes

  • Nielsen's wig when Renfield arrives at the castle and when Dracula goes to the ball was inspired by Dracula's hair in the beginning of Bram Stoker's Dracula.
  • Korman's model for his role of Dr. Seward was, according to screenwriter Steve Haberman, Nigel Bruce's Dr. Watson.
  • The bat transformations of Dracula were inspired by the cartoonish transformations of Bela Lugosi into a bat in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
  • In the scene where Van Helsing asks Seward if his has books on the occult, he mentions titles Vampires of Prague and Nosferatu. Vampires of Prague was the alternative title for a vampire movie starring Bela Lugosi, Mark of the Vampire, while Nosferatu was the title of the first Dracula adaptation in film.
  • When Brooks and the rest of the filmmakers gathered together for the first time to discuss the making of the movie, one of the early questions was should the picture be made in black-and-white, mainly because Brooks' earlier film Young Frankenstein was made in black and white in order to give the movie the feeling of the old Universal Frankenstein films. This idea was dropped, mainly because, as Steve Haberman said in the audio commentary of the film in DVD, a lot of the great Dracula movies were in color, specifically the Hammer pictures starring Christopher Lee and Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula.
  • During Lucy's impalement scene, Weber was not made aware of the volume of blood that would shoot up from the dummy. Brooks has indicated that this was done to ensure a natural reaction.
  • The scene where Renfield furtively devours insects while having a polite tea with Dr. Seward was the first to be scripted.
  • Dracula and Van Helsing's exchange in which Helsing yells "Fushta!" and Dracula shoots back "Sylvania!" is a reference to Rocky and Bullwinkle villains Boris and Natasha from Pottsylvania.

References

External links

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