Sunday, August 14, 2011
Dead and hating it: the worst vampire movies I've seen
I love Leslie Neilsen. I love Mel Brooks. You'd think the two of them getting together would have been comedy gold. Unfortunately, their teaming leads off this list of The Worst Vampire Movies I've seen.
"Dracula: Dead and Loving It," released in 1995, was the last movie Brooks directed. He's been busy with musical adaptations of his greatest works but it is still a shame that this piece of junk was his final directorial effort. He's not dead, so maybe he'll return to the top seat and make up for this debacle.
As for Neilsen, his best work is when he acts serious in the midst of absurdity. As Dracula, he's hamming things up on purpose and its awful. He's not a funny man when he tries too hard to be funny.
There are two characters who are funny in the movie. Peter MacNicol as Renfield is a delight. Instead of being ridiculous, he channels Dwight Frye, the man who played Renfield in Tod Browning's 1931 "Dracula." He seems silly in his early scenes but goes brilliantly over the top once he's hypnotized by the Count. One could watch MacNicol and and Frye back to back and only tell the two apart because one is in color and the other is in a good movie.
The film's other great performance is by Gregg Binkley. You might not recognize the name, but if you've seen a Del Taco commercial, you know the face. He was Dan the Del Taco Man. In "Dracula: Dead and Loving It," he shares two minutes of screen time with Brooks and faints at the end.
I had the privilege of meeting Binkley at the Del Taco on the Las Vegas strip. He signed a Polaroid photo of us,"Sorry about Dracula: Dead and Loving It." Awesome.
Hooking up Eddie Murphy and Wes Craven for "Vampire in Brooklyn" in the same year as "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" probably seemed like a good idea, too.
It wasn't. Craven was in a down period. Murphy had just made "Boomerang," "The Distinguished Gentleman" and "Beverly Hills Cop III," and apparently thought turning to an unfunny and unscary horror comedy would turn his career around.
The funny thing is that it did. As the vampire Maximillian, Murphy shape shifts into a number of other characters, switching personas at a whim. He used this combination of raw talent and make-up for his greatest triumph of the 1990s: "The Nutty Professor."
Three out of Craven's next four movies were the "Scream" trilogy, so he had a nice run after "Vampire in Brooklyn," too. Then he made "Cursed," which if I ever make a worst werewolf movies will show up there.
Thankfully, I have no memory about what actually happens in the movie. Stan Lee shows up, as does fellow comic book genius Frank Miller and rock/spoken word giant Henry Rollins. I remember that Rollins' scene takes place in a poorly lit men's restroom.
One reason that I can't remember what happens in the movie could be that the movie had no plot. I remember thinking how boring and pretentious the movie was. But I didn't remember that enough to stop from renting it that second time. I might have been drunk.
If you look at the poster to your left, you'll read the tagline: "Nothing bites deeper than a vampire's kiss." Something, nothing sucks harder than a bad vampire movie.
There are some other bad vampire movies out there. I've avoided some of the worst ("BloodRayne," "Ultraviolet," and all but the first of the "Twilight" series) and have enjoyed others that many people don't care for ("Dracula 2000"). What do you think? What is the worst vampire movie you've ever seen? (Remember, just because you heard it was bad, doesn't count. You have to have actually seen it and admit to having done so.)