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CritiqueQuotesText • At the movies

1922, 1931, 1936–1945, 1958, 1960–1974, 1979, 1979–1995, 1992, 2000, 2000, 2006

Dracula first editionFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication

Literature form

Literary, fantasy

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 180,000 words

George Hamilton as Dracula
George Hamilton is the first and best of the funny Draculas.

Fun with the count

Love at First Bite (1979): Film, 94 minutes; director Stan Dragoti; writer Robert Kaufman; featuring George Hamilton, Richard Benjamin.

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995): Film, 90 minutes; director Mel Brooks; writers Brooks, Rudy De Luca, Steve Haberman; featuring Leslie Neilsen, Steve Weber, Brooks, Harvey Korman, Anne Bancroft

Given the aristocratic vampire is such an iconic figure in literature and cinema, it took long enough for parodies of Dracula to start appearing.

There was Bela Lugosi poking fun at his image as one of the villains in 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, but that hardly counts—so to speak.

Finally in 1979 we get the first sustained take-off on the Dracula legend. And for me it's the best and funniest.

It's Love at First Bite (1979), a surprise hit in which George Hamilton plays Dracula for laughs. (Not to be confused with the 15-minute short with the same title by the Three Stooges, which has nothing to do with vampires and is even stupider and also funny in a slapstick way.)

Dracula, you slay me

Hamilton is terrific and shows great comic timing in the role. The oily vampire is forced out of Romania when his castle is turned into a gymnasium, and he comes to New York to raid blood banks and woo Susan Saint James (later co-starring in TV's MacMillan and Wife) to become his bride. Comic actor Arte Johnson is his Renfield and everyman Richard Benjamin is a Van Helsing descendant who has changed his name to Rosenberg to start a career as a psychiatrist.

Very funny in a throwback kind of way. Biggest in-joke: how does night-stalking Dracula get the tan that Hamilton famously sports?

Disco-dancing Dracula (George Hamilton and Susan Saint James) in Love at First Bite.

Hamilton has been trying to get a sequel to Love at First Bite—Love at Second Bite?—off the ground ever since, most recently being reported as hoping to update the story into the Twilight era.

Dracula, you big dope

Not as successful is Mel Brooks's Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), starring Leslie Nielson. Brooks had earlier struck comic gold with his monster spoof Young Frankenstein but this companion piece was dismissed by critics and much of the public.

Leslie Neilsen as Dracula
Leslie Neilsen as goofy Dracula

Dead and Loving It is a straight-ahead spoof of the original story, possibly sparked by Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, a few years earlier.

It's not as dismal as claimed by critics, who were perhaps expecting something more outlandish than an old-fashioned parody.

Neilson is his usual goofy self, perhaps putting even more into his comic acting for Brooks here than he usually does.

If you like slapstick and obvious humour (I admit I do), you'll enjoy Dracula: Dead and Loving It. If not, you really don't need to see this.

Except maybe to help you stop taking Dracula too seriously.

— Eric


CritiqueQuotesText • At the movies

1922, 1931, 1936–1945, 1958, 1960–1974, 1979, 1979–1995, 1992, 2000, 2000, 2006