Dracula: Dead and Loving It is a 1995 comedy horror film starring Leslie Nielsen (Day of the Animals) and directed by Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein). It is a parody of the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker and of some of the films it inspired. It reportedly cost $15 million but took much less at the US box office.
Brooks co-authored the screenplay with Steve Haberman and Rudy De Luca. He also appears as Dr Van Helsing. The film’s other stars include Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck, Peter MacNicol, Harvey Korman, and Anne Bancroft.
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 spoofs, among other movies, The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992).
1893: solicitor Thomas Renfield (Peter MacNicol) travels all the way from London to “Castle Dracula” in Transylvania to finalise Count Dracula’s purchase of Carfax Abbey in England. As the sun sets, and the stagecoach driver refuses to take him any further, Renfield continues on foot despite the villagers (including Chuck McCann and Anne Bancroft in cameos) pleading with him to turn back.
Renfield arrives safely and meets Count Dracula (Leslie Nielsen), a charming but rather strange man who is a vampire. He then casts a hypnotic spell on the suggestible Renfield, making him his slave. Dracula and Renfield soon travel to England. During the voyage, Dracula dines upon the ship’s crew. When the ship arrives and 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 he introduces himself to his new neighbours: Doctor Seward (Korman), Seward’s assistant Jonathan Harker (Weber), Seward’s nubile daughter Mina (Amy Yasbeck), 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…
“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. … 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. … ” James Berardinelli of ReelViews
Joe Leydon of Variety wrote: “Leslie Nielsen toplines to agreeable effect as Count Dracula, depicted here as a dead-serious but frequently flustered fellow who’s prone to slipping on bat droppings in his baroque castle. … Despite his initial appearance in a fluffed-up wig very similar to Gary Oldman’s hairdo in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Nielsen sticks with a Bela Lugosi accent and a traditionally Continental interpretation of the part…”
Main cast and characters:
Leslie Nielsen … Dracula
Peter MacNicol … Renfield
Steven Weber … Harker
Amy Yasbeck … Mina
Lysette Anthony … Lucy
Harvey Korman … Dr Seward
Mel Brooks … Professor Van Helsing
Mark Blankfield … Martin
Megan Cavanagh … Essie
Clive Revill … Sykes
Chuck McCann … Innkeeper
Avery Schreiber … Peasant on Coach
Cherie Franklin … Peasant on Coach
Ezio Greggio … Coach Driver
Leslie Sachs … Usherette
Matthew Porretta … Handsome Lieutenant at Ball
Rudy De Luca … Guard
Jennifer Crystal … Nurse
Darla Haun … Brunette Vampire
Karen Roe … Blonde Vampire
Charlie Callas … Man in Straitjacket