Many people insist that Mel Brooks pretty much lost it once the nineties introduced itself. His comedy was somewhat outdated and he’d run out of material. I say thee nay! Sure, Mr. Brooks didn’t deliver any films in the level of “Blazing Saddles” in the nineties, but damn it I think his later efforts were entertaining in their own right. I think “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” is wacky fun, and you know what? I happen to find “Dracula: Dead and Loving It” to be hilarious on more than one occasion.
Surely, it’s not perfect, but Mel Brooks still has some magic left in him, and he’s bold enough to tackle Dracula for this go around. This time he adds a new spin on Bram Stoker’s tale with Leslie Nielsen as the ghoulish Count. This time, Brooks focuses more on the origins of Renfield and then and the battle of Jonathan Harker to protect his wife Mina from Dracula’s wrath. While most of the cast are rather hilarious, Peter MacNicol steals the show whenever he’s on-screen. Even from Nielsen. As Renfield he’s all kinds of eccentric and neurotic, responding to the madness onscreen with his trademark high pitched warble and hysterical double takes.
From his response to the vampire bride orgy, to his inept servitude as Dracula’s crony, MacNicol is at the top of his game and derives raucous laughter. Just Dracula’s luck, when he enslaves Renfield, the man ends up proving he’s an absolute moron who barely helps Dracula in his quest to transform Mina in to his bride. There’s also the great performance from Stephen Weber as the quaint Jonathan Harker, and Amy Yasbeck who is laugh out loud funny as Mina. You also have to love Harvey Korman as Mina’s naive doctor father, while Mel Brooks takes on the role of Van Helsing. He and Dracula have a rivalry that borders on obsessive, and Brooks manages to share some genuinely funny moments with Leslie Nielsen.
“Dead and Loving It” is not without its own variety of stand out moments of pure brilliance, as Brooks features a great moment where Van Helsing and Dracula battle to see who gets the last word in an argument, and a moment during an opera where Dracula wipes the memory of a theater usher in an effort to introduce himself to Mina and Jonathan. There’s also the big mix-up as he attempts to hypnotize Mina from her room, and Jonathan’s confrontation with a buxom vampire that results in a ridiculous amount of bloodshed, making him re-think confronting any more of Dracula’s personal minions. Director Mel Brooks goes out on a respectable bang with “Dracula: Dead and Loving It,” a very above par and often funny satire of a horror classic. It’s surely one of the better horror spoofs before the sub-genre died a miserable death in the late nineties.