Although “Dracula – Dead But Happy” has not quite earned the cult status that “Spaceballs” enjoys. Nevertheless, the horror corruption of Mel Brooks and Leslie Nielsen has many, many fans – and is now finally available on Blu-ray!
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Of course, genre connoisseurs already know that horror can also be great fun. But scary haters often stand by in amazement and ask themselves: “What’s so great or even funny about that?” Many a beginner-friendly genre film is laughed at in return by die-hard horror cracks. However, there is a gray area that experience has shown that film fans from both sides of the discussion can get used to it – and that is loving pastiche!
Hardly any director has mastered this subgenre as well as Mel Brooks, whose parodies never lash out at their goals from above. And now Finally, one of Mel Brooks’ horror homages celebrates its late Blu-ray premiere: “Dracula – Dead But Happy” with Leslie Nielsen as the feel-good prince of bloodsuckers!
Brooks’ parodies always serve as a tongue-in-cheek declaration of love full of inside jokes for connoisseurs of the mocked-up stuff. At the same time, they are easy-going, accessible jokes, so that even non-experts can be shown in a witty way what is so great about the targets of Brooks’ gag attacks.
This is “Dracula – Dead But Happy”
Transylvania in 1893: A Briton (Peter MacNicol) wants to sell a house in England to the dreaded Count Dracula. And this even though everyone warns him not to go anywhere near the strange castle inhabitant. But contrary to all expectations, the deal works: Dracula signs the contract – but then makes the lawyer his involuntary assistant and travels to London with him. There, the bloodthirsty Count is looking for new victims – but finds a powerful enemy in the vampire hunter Van Helsing (Mel Brooks).
Brooks’ “Dracula” is not as popular as his often quoted “Star Wars parody “Spaceballs” or the western satire “The Wild Wild West”. However, the horror parody is far more accessible to the uninitiated than “Spaceballs,” which tends to make baffled faces when shown to people new to Brooks and/or unfamiliar with “Star Wars“ have on the hat. Much more, “Dracula – Dead But Happy” lines up seamlessly with “Frankenstein Junior”, Mel Brooks’ passionate endeavor to tease “Frankenstein” cheerfully and cheerfully.
Both films bow to the classic Universal Studios horror milestones in a lovingly detailed manner, but also open up to outsiders with their lively ideas, slapstick, and dialog jokes. Brooks’ love for what he does is also evident in the bonus material: The Pidax-released Blu-ray for “Dracula – Dead But Happy” includes, among other things, an audio commentary by the director, an entertaining interview with him and his vampire, as well as an Introduction by Brooks to set the right mood.