Dracula: Dead And Loving It

Dracula: Dead And Loving It

Crimes:

• Making a Mel Brooks Dracula parody that's too tame and too faithful to the original

• Basing most of the comedy on semi-dirty puns and labored slapstick

• Casting the smirky Steven Weber and Amy Yasbeck, who can't keep straight faces during the movie's few funny scenes

Defender: Director Brooks, co-writers Rudy De Luca and Steve Haberman, and, recorded on their own, co-stars Weber and Yasbeck.

Tone of commentary: By turns chummy and excruciating. In the writer-director segments, De Luca and Haberman praise Brooks' sense of mood and his handling of classic gags like the giant-door-knocker routine. (Brooks: "I'm good with knockers.") But in the Weber/Yasbeck parts, the actors free-associate and riff like they're on the lamest episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 ever. (Weber, on seeing star Leslie Nielsen undergoing his vampiric transformation: "Boy, it must hurt like hell to turn into a bat." Yasbeck, on seeing herself in Victorian dress: "I love to do period comedy, but only five days out of the month.")

What went wrong: An obvious disconnect between the filmmaking team and the stars. One moment, stickler-for-detail Haberman insists, "We're really telling a story here. People die and everything." The next, Weber says, "It's so clearly a farce that we all just had fun. We didn't study anything." Meanwhile, Brooks talks about how the more he sees the movie, the more he thinks it's "hysterical," to which Haberman replies, "History is very kind to good movies."

Comments on the cast: According to Weber, Nielsen kept a fart machine in his back pocket.

Inevitable dash of pretension: Brooks: "We tried to do a combination of silly, old-fashioned slapstick physical comedy and highfalutin satire, bordering on homage."

Commentary in a nutshell: A typical Weber and Yasbeck exchange, begun when Weber refers to something he calls "dooko cement": Yasbeck: "What's dooko cement?" Weber: "A kind of cement that Leslie likes to work with." "He's used it for years." "They made a documentary about it." "A dooko-mentary." "Which has some minty memories." "Minty fresh!"

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