Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
You'll laugh until you die... then you'll rise from the dead to laugh again.
I can either sell you on- or turn you away from- this movie with just one name: Mel Brooks. Really, in all honesty, I could just end it there, as most people already know if they'd want to watch it based off of that, but what about that strange breed of folk who don't know who Mel is? I know, it's unthinkable to those who know of him, but let's face it - the times, they keep on rolling. Being that it's October, it's time for an actual reasonable reason to pop out a bunch of horror movies (outside of just "I want to watch them") as I can just go "but spooky ghouls and ghosts and costumes!" Don't worry though, I decided to start it off easy this year by doing a movie more comedy than horror, so let's see if you can handle what the season gave me reason to show, or if this month is going to leave you without a ghost of a chance!
By now, most know the story of Dracula. Unfortunately for those people, they get to hear it (mostly) again! A British man takes a trip out to the middle of nowhere in scare's-ville to sell a piece of land to a Count who lives there. The local people are all rather superstitious, fearing the dark and the evil creatures it brings - but being British and having an appointment to catch, our sales rep refuses to wait till morning and trudges off from the town on foot to the castle of the Count with whom he is meeting. He arrives at the spooky castle, and enters to find Count Dracula standing before him. After a brief encounter with a bat and a twist on the old "children of the night" line, Dracula takes a spill down the stairs after landing his foot on some bat poo - and this will set the mood for what your about to watch the rest off. Still, silliness aside, they go to an office and get down to business, having Dracula sign the papers so he now owns a nice little parcel of land in the good old Britain. They won't be leaving until tomorrow night to go there however, so the Count gives the British man a room for the night - and a bit of brainwashing to make him a servant.
Upon arriving in the old England, we are introduced to some new (unless you know the story) characters that will be the focus (outside of Dracula) for the movie at a play. The father of the group owns the mental institution at which the Rep has been sent after arriving alone on a boat stark raving mad - and Dracula would like to meet him. More silliness happens, but Dracula does also get to meet the two lovely ladies and the betrothed of the father's daughter. Setting up some victim-leads, Dracula then takes his leave of the situation so we can continue with the jokes - and plot. The rep is proven to still be pretty crazy - eating all manner of bugs when meeting with the father to assess his situation, and Dracula pays a visit to the single young lady of the group - prompting the entrance of our last important character.
That last character is a star in the medical field as well as rare and weird diseases (and things in general), and diagnoses the young lady with being a vampire. Nobody wants to really believe this - what with being civil minded folk - but it isn't long before the young lady is attacked again, this time ending up dead. Under the doctor's desires, the suitor and the doctor go to the tomb of the young lady to find out that she has, in fact, risen from the dead with a hearty appetite for the blood of the living - and need to put her down. More silliness ensues, as Dracula sets his eyes on his next victim - the daughter of the father and to-be of the suitor! Will the three men be able to figure out who the vampire is in time to save her? Will Dracula be cured and walk in the sun? Will the rep stop eating bugs long enough to be free? Will you find a moment to stop laughing?
I could talk about the plot, but who needs to? It's the old Dracula tale, told time and again, but reworked into a Mel Brooks comedy. More important than the story ends up being the actors and what they are capable of - even the best lain comedy traps can be spoiled with a poor delivery or bland performer. To that, the actors here all do a wonderful job of putting the right amount of absurd or stereotype on their roles. Our bug-eater comes off as perfectly incapable of doing anything, the suitor as over-the-top dandy British, and Dracula and the doctor play well off of each other in a tug-o-war of wits and snide comments. It has that distinct Brooks comedy to it - to which if you've seen his other works you'll know if you like it or not, but if you haven't seen those before think a bit of slapstick, some goofy gags, and some "inappropriate" jokes that could be slightly racy (like the gynecologist joke)or stereotype play (in this case British).
It's nothing that should get people offended - as it's all in good jest - although my perception of the modern audience has me believing that most Mel Brooks movies wouldn't be allowed to be made in this day and age because someone would get offended. Sure, some of the humor get's pretty juvenile as well, although the nice part about that is that it covers enough of a range that someone is bound to find something in it funny. In previous watchings of the movie, for example, I never caught the gynecologist joke ("...and gynecologist." "Oh, I didn't know you had your hand in that.") but always found the over-dramatic staking scene to be funny. That what it is, someone looking for a 'serious' movie this won't please - but with a title like "Dead and Loving It," I'm surprised you'd think it was going to be serious.
Effects are pretty well done, although some of the gags are rather obvious (the old "fake body with real head sticking out from floor" trick). The computer effects hold up pretty decent in most cases, and the AFV-style face-on-bat will probably bring out at least a little chuckle even if it doesn't look the best or seems stupid. It's pretty well paced as well, so even though one scene may have a super-obvious fake spider getting eaten, the next might have an impressive blood-spray practical gag that won't trick anyone into thinking it's real but still be ridiculous enough that you just don't care and have a laugh. It's all about the merriment, to which this movie provides plenty.
It's definitely something that most looking for a goofy movie should enjoy - although with that it's always something that's hit or miss depending on person humor preferences. To someone looking for a more light hearted vampire flick, it certainly fits the bill - conforming an old beloved tale into something that will leave you laughing instead of swooning, or shivering, or whatever the old Dracula may have caused you. I'd wager it a rental for most - although even though it's pretty ridiculous about it's violence to the extent that I'd find the subtle and more obvious innuendo moments to be more of a hazard to younger viewers parent's would probably wish to check it out before hand. For my sense of humor though, Mel Brooks knows how to make a person laugh - even if it's not in tears and rolling across the floor for the entirety of the movie, it's enough to cheer the mood up and have enjoyed the time spent watching it.