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Dracula: Dead and Loving It: Mel Brook’s 1995 Comedic Gem

March 25, 2015



But Lucy! I’m British.

Draculaa gif


I am a huge Mel Brook’s fan. Blazing Saddles is one of my favorite films and I can watch History of the World: Part One, Spaceballs, The Producers, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Young Frankenstein and To Be or Not To Be all day. His jokes speak to me and I love how he blends intelligent jokes with beautiful juvenile gags.


Dracula gif


Dracula: Dead and Loving it is not Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein. However, it is a cheeky little thing that I loved when I was a teenager. My 13-year-old self loved every moment (wrong me!) and maybe I wasn’t jaded enough to dissect the film. I remember questioning what an enema was and wondering why that shadow was such a jerk. It is much better than the 11% Rotten Tomatoes score and features a fantastic finale that puts a spin on the average vampire movie.


mel brooks


I understand how in 1995 it was looked at with indifference. Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and Chris Farley had big films in 95 and they contrasted with poor Dracula. It was shot entirely on sound stages and felt like a throw back to earlier Mel Brook’s films. The problem with some of Brook’s earlier movies is they set a hilarious precedent that cannot be matched. There will never be another Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein. Dracula suffered because of changing times, expectations and a whole lot of cynicism.  It is smarter than you think and I’m happy to see people appreciate it now.


Dracula dead and loving it

She just ate!!!!

Like every other Dracula film it revolves around Dracula’s running amok in castles, crypts and on dance floors. Brooks leaves no coffin left unturned and he pillages movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Nosferatu. Garlic is used with aplomb and necklines plunge deep (like every other Brooks film). You can tell the actors are having a blast and the laughs become infectious.



Leslie Neilson fits in perfectly because he plays the gags straight and looks dignified even as he is crashing into glass windows. His Dracula is a mixture of weary, petty and flamboyant. He is constantly confounded by stupidity and his luck is worse than terrible.



He can also pull off the one-liners of Brook’s world. I love this exchange.

Van Helsing: Count Dracula. Hmm, curious. Are you descended from Vlad Tepes? The first Dracula?

Dr. Steward: Tepes?

Van Helsing: Ya. It means ‘The Impaler.’ He was a blood-thirsty butchah. He inflicted unspeakable tortures on the peasants: cutting off their hands and feet, gouging out their eyes and then impaling them on iron spikes!

Dracula: They had it coming.

Filling out the cast are Stephen Webber, Peter MacNicol, Harvey and Robin Hood: Men in Tights Amy Yasbeck. They are all game and I love their weird accents, wordplay (Rahsperries) and all-in gamesmanship. Brooks has always found a way to cast his films perfectly and the Dracula crew deliver.



My favorite scene is between MacNicol and Harvey Korman. MacNicol is trying to prove he is sane but he keeps eating bugs in front of an exasperated Korman. They actually wrote the film around this scene and the crew had to be vacated during filming because they couldn’t stop laughing.



Dracula: Dead and Loving it is an under appreciated gem that still feels fresh today. I can see how it fell through the cracks but I love that it is gaining an audience. Another good thing about Dracula is that it inspired Brooks to push other creative boundaries. In an interview with The AV Club Brook’s admitted that the disappointment pushed him to Broadway. 

It’s a real world, and I was seeing that at this point, Mel Brooks pictures were not doing as well as, let’s say a Judd Apatow picture. I said, “Well, maybe it’s time to do something else instead of just making more movies.” I thought, and I thought, and I thought, and I said, “I shouldn’t make another movie. I should follow a different road and a different vision.” And the new yellow brick road took me to Broadway. I was once again Mel Brooks and won more Tonys for The Producers with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick than anybody else had ever won on Broadway. So I was Mel Brooks again. And I was giving the world the best of me. I was giving them the songwriter in me, as well as the comedian, as well as the producer.


Watch Dracula: Dead and Loving it. Appreciate the team up of Neilsen and Brooks. Always keep garlic around and never kill a vampire after they’ve eaten.




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