“Dracula: Dead and Loving It” was a film critically panned when it was released and I’m not sure why. This is a film that knows exactly what it is, it is a satire and comedy about “Dracula” and from there your humor may very since it is subjective. I for one found it solidly good and will explain why deeper in the review.
The film was directed by Mel Brooks who co-wrote the screenplay along with Rudy De Luca and Steve Haberman.
The story follows Renfield (Peter MacNocil) when he arrives at Dracula’s Castle to complete the purchase of Carfax Abbey for Count Dracula (Leslie Nielsen). The story unfolds from here.
The Allusions – This film pays allusion to a few films I have scene, those being “Dracula” from 1931 and the Hammer films with their emphasis on gore. These things do work but it doesn’t make the film any deeper. I felt like this film could have been great if it had depended less on parody.
The Characters – As someone who thought the Lugosi “Dracula” of 1931 was a a solid good horror, this is a solid good satire of that. It doesn’t go beyond that but I appreciate the effort.
Renfield – Peter MacNicol does a good job with the ham is just is just more inept. This works given how driven he is initially. He is also one of the stronger parts of “Ghostbusters 2.”
Dr. Van Helsing – This is the Mel Brooks character and he works. He is the only one who critiques characters and is the only one one aware of a film. I thought this would possibly annoy but it doesn’t here. He still has chemistry with the cast.
Count Dracula – Leslie Nielsen does a good job of playing up the comedy of his role while still being a threat. He still does all the tropes and can still play the laughs while still being competent. That is not easy to do. As a threat for an hour and half he carries this. So I don’t get the hate.
Mina, Lucy and Harker – These are all characters who were blank slates in the initial review. This one gives them some level of depth. Mina is flirtatoious, Lucy does the “Jekyll and Hyde” extremely well and Harker has something going on. Originally he was a prop, at least he is sexually conflicted here.
The Comedy and the 3 S’s of Mel Brooks – This film captures the 3 S’s you will find in any Mel Brooks film. Sex, Satire and Slapstick. This film has all of these and caused me to chuckle consistently through the film. Comedy is subjective but Mel Brooks does the 3 Ss really well and is easily one of my favorite comedic directors.
Overdependence on Prior Films – One of the things that hurts the film from reaching levels of greatness is it does depend too much on the films it references. The story is Lugosi’s “Dracula” just with jokes so it never quite fully has it’s own identity.
No One Performance Can Carry – Tying into the fact that it doesn’t quite have it’s own identity none of the performances really stand out. The performances are good but they never reach the level of Lugosi or Lee so the film is never elevated.
After watching this film I don’t understand why it is so hated. It has all the Mel Brooks comedy tropes and does them well. I was never bored during the film and I enjoyed the takes on the characters even if there weren’t any great performances. Suffice to say, if you are a Mel Brooks fan, this is worth a watch.
Final Score: 8 / 10 Solid Mel Brooks Comedy.