The unfortunate Renfield (Peter MacNicol) travels to Transylvania, only to be enslaved byDracula (Leslie Nielsen). Dracula uses Renfield to help his move to England, where he preys onLucy Westenra (Lysette Anthony) and Mina (Amy Yasbeck), daughter of Dr. Seward (HarveyKorman) and fiancee of Jonathan Harker (Steven Weber). Seward and Harker fight back withthe help of Dr. Van Helsing (Mel Brooks).
Brooks’ love of vintage horror films, so evident in Young Frankenste…n is just asclear here. Though there are parodic nods to Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’sDracula, the real model here is Tod Browning’s 1931 Dracula. Brooks’ film followsthat film’s story slavishly, and Peter MacNicol turns in a most convincing Dwight Fryeimpersonation, right down to duplicating the unruly hair and the famous maniacal laugh. Insteadof black-and-white, the film is shot in an imitation of the Hammer films’ colour, so we get ourhomage to the Christopher Lee films as well as the Bela Lugosi one. The tributes are soelaborate that the comedy is all the more depressing for being so routine. In fact, there aresometimes such long passages between jokes that one can’t help but wonder if Brooks wouldn’thave been happier doing a straight horror piece.
The 2.0 sound has some minor distortion on the dialogue (not enough to ruin the experience).The music is appropriately lush. There are a number of surround effects. Not enough to createa full environment, but the storm effects during the ocean crossing are very good. Some of thesurround effects are misplaced, such as when we see a door open before us, but hear it frombehind.
The colours are very lush and warm, especially the red (of the blood, of Dracula’s cape), andone does indeed feel as if one were watching a Hammer film. The blacks are very good as well.There is a bit of speckling, and some minor grain. Generally, the transfer looks good.
Quite a few participants on the commentary: Brooks, Weber, Yasbeck, and co-writers RudyDe Luca and Steve Haberman. Haberman’s love of the Browning film is evident, and he wouldclearly like to say more about it, but is sidetracked by Weber and Yasbeck’s rather morefrivolous interruptions. Still, plenty of good background on the film. The only other extra is thetheatrical trailer. The menu’s main screen is scored.
Great production values and an obvious love for its roots are highlights of the film. Too badit simply isn’t that funny.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer