The age-old history of Dracula as a cultural piece is something that dominated the early years of cinema. Since then, adaptations and reworkings have been frequent, to varying degrees of success. Whilst Francis Ford Coppola struck better success with his adaptation of Dracula, the attempts made by Mel Brooks and Leslie Nielsen fared a tad worse. Pairing two legendary comedic actors together should have provided some great laughs, memorable moments and a great final outing for Brooks behind the camera, but it’s a complete disaster from start to finish. Dracula: Dead and Loving It showcases its finest joke in the title, really, the writing doesn’t improve from there.
There’s nothing to be said about this ridiculously sloppy, poorly contrived adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel. Loathed on its release, and rightly so, Dracula: Dead and Loving It provides little in the way of laughter. A plethora of poorly timed jokes, bad writing, and constricted directing. We shouldn’t expect this from someone praised as the best of the best. It’s not until you reflect on Brooks’ filmography that you realise; he doesn’t have all too many hits. That’s not to detract from his earlier works with The Producers or Blazing Saddles, but the light of his talents has clearly dimmed here, and it makes for an untimely, expected end to his career.
No wonder people lost faith in Mel Brooks, the humour here simply isn’t up to par, the direction is standard and flat, there’s no life to it. There’s a scene within where a group of surgical students are fainting at the sight of blood, much to the chagrin of Doctor Van Helsing (Brooks). It should be funny, repetition is the key to comedy, but after the sixth doctor has done a barely visible pratfall, the joke runs dry. Much like the title suggests, it’s dead, but nobody is loving this. Sure, that’s a cheap joke to make, but there’s nothing else to say about a film that killed the career of a man who’s meant to be one of the greatest, most influential comedians of all.
Dracula: Dead and Loving It is, at the best of times, a reminder of how even the best of us will fail to measure up to challenges from time to time. Brooks and Nielsen come out of this one looking rather meek, embarrassing stuff as the audience laughs at, and not with, two funny Hollywood staples. I had expected mediocrity, I received a scarily poor adaptation of a literary classic. Sucking all the fun out of its script, replacing it with asinine, childish antics that never take us anywhere, it’s interesting to see how poorly this one comes together.