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Oct 292014
 

This Halloween I thought I would cover the most famous vampire in pop culture, Count Dracula. There’s no doubt that this vampire is so iconic because there have been so many versions. Whether it’s about his own story, or if he’s part of a group of other monsters, the role of Count Dracula has been played by more actors than any other vampire. Here are the versions I remember best in chronological order, even though most of them are highly obscure.

Dracula (1932): Frankly, who doesn’t remember the original movie with Bela Lagosi as the Count. This may be a classic horror feature, but it’s not one I was hugely into compared to the following films and TV appearances, even though he was the inspiration behind the Count from Sesame Street.

Mad Monster Party (1967): Normally when the classic movie monsters are together, Dracula is the one in charge because he’s the toughest in the bunch. Although he’s quick on the attack, Dracula tends to fumble especially since Frankenstein’s monster is stronger than he is.

Electric Company (1970s): Believe it or not, one of Morgan Freeman’s reoccurring characters was Dracula. He has a mysterious presence that can scare people, but isn’t dangerous. It seems that this Dracula’s favorite pastimes include drinking vanilla malts and taking a bath in a casket.

Ghostbusters (1975): This version of Count Dracula, played by Billy Holms, is very goofy and as a bat he tends to bump into walls. What really stands out are his fangs since they look so fake. Luckily his wife Countess Dracula is with him to keep him in line.

Ghostbusters (1986): Although this version of Count Dracula looks a lot like the Dracula from Groovy Ghoulies, he’s actually a lot tougher than many of the evil spirits the Ghostbusters ever faced. His ambition is to take over Transylvania by taking human slaves with his hypnotic power instead of a bite. He also hates mirrors as well as garlic. A little strange, don’t you think?

Castlevania Games (1987-1991): Dracula has appeared on video games before, but the best known is in the Castlevania franchise as the main villain. Instead of the Van Helsings fighting Dracula, it’s the Belmont family. It goes to show that the Count always returns no matter how many times he’s been defeated.

Captain N: The Game Master (1989): The animated version that’s based on the video games is a warlord trying to take over the world of Castlevania. Though I must admit that the Count has a creepier look.

Monster Force (1994): As the main villain in this series, Dracula prefers to be called Dracule. Even though he has a charming persona, don’t be fooled. Dracule is very powerful with his metamorphosis, hypnotic spells, and other magical abilities, which gives the Prince of Darkness an edge over humans and monsters alike.

Leslie Neilson as Count Dracula

Dracula: Dead and Loving it (1995): I remember when I first heard about this comedy classic. After discovering that Leslie Nielsen was going to star as Dracula, I knew from the start that it was going to be a good one. This Dracula is clumsy and his shadow has a mind of its own, but don’t take him too lightly. He’s powerful in the ways of mind control, sometimes even more than he realizes.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2000): Dracula’s only appearance on this show was in the season five episode Buffy vs. Dracula, where Rudolf Martin played the role, but he did leave his mark during his time in Sunnydale. He seduced Buffy, made Xander his Renfield, even Spike remembers Dracula as an old rival before he got famous. This certainly covers a lot of ground on how Dracula stands out from other vampires and it’s hilarious when Buffy slays him… twice.

Van Helsing (2004): Richard Roxborough plays the role in this movie. As the main villain once again, he introduces a new skill that vampires have and that’s the ability to walk up walls and on the ceiling like it was nothing. Though Dracula is both strong and deadly, it’s really his three wives that stand out as big favorites to me.

Hotel Transylvania (2012): Adam Sandler voiced the most recent animated version of Count Dracula. Unlike other Draculas, this one is actually one of the good guys. After losing his wife to a group of angry villagers, Dracula created a hotel resort as a safe haven for monsters. However, he also became an overprotective father and control freak. Dracula is also funny, especially when he tries to tell humans that he never did say, “Bleh, bleh, bleh”.

Dec 032010
 

In the sci-fi comedy Naked Space, a group of astronauts explore an undiscovered planet and find a small glob to bring back to Earth for observation. It turns out to be a living organism.

It’s a long trip back, so the crew finds creative ways to pass the time, which includes a talent show. Captain Jameson (Leslie Nielson) does a dramatic reading from the ship’s log, which wasn’t bad for an opening, despite Rozinski’s (Gerrit Graham) opinon. Next John (Bruce Kimmel) does a cooking segment, “How to Cook a Synthetic Turkey”. It doesn’t look very appetizing, but the act was creative. Then for the grand finale, morale officer Annie McHugh (Cindy Williams, who I remember best as Shirley from the classic sitcom Laverne & Shirley) performs a song in a sexy outfit, which really lights up the show. It’s not easy being the only woman onboard, especially with someone like Rozinski around.

Rozinski is hilarious as an outspoken chauvinist pig, who likes to annoy people. He sure loves his Horny Hotties magazines.

 

Soon the organism grows into a monster. It soon gets loose and terrorizes everyone, giving them the willies. As huge as the ship is with its many levels, corridors, and sections, it could be anywhere. Captain Jameson is more worried that if anything were to happen to him, Rozinski would be in charge. Now that would be scary.

Dr. Stark (Patrick Macnee) keeps insisting that the monster is friendly, even if it does try to eat him and everyone else. As the victims get eaten, it doesn’t show anything gory. Only one personal possession is left behind. Talk about licking your plate clean.

You’ve got to admit though. The monster can dance and has a nice singing voice. The song the monster sings has disturbing lyrics about eating people, but Rozinski’s blank stare throughout the song is what makes it funny. I wonder who was playing the piano.

This is a great film filled with comedy and excitement. I admit, it’s not exactly Spaceballs, but is still my kind of sci-fi movie.

As a tribute to Leslie Nielsen, he was definitely a great comedic actor, who had a long carreer. He was best known for spoof films like Airplane and The Naked Gun trilogy. Some of my other all time favorites include Repossessed, Dracula: Dead and Loving it, and Spy Hard, just to name a few. It’s like what Linda Blair said at her Q&A at Spooky Empire 2009. “Who isn’t a fan of Leslie Nielsen?”

Oct 202010
 

For my 200th post, I’d like to talk about my most favorite Dracula movie. Mel Brooks teams up with Leslie Neilsen, who plays the lead in this spoof on the story of Dracula called Dracula – Dead and Loving It. It starts when a London solicitor named Thomas Renfield (Peter MacNichol) heads to the Count’s castle. Then he becomes Dracula’s crazy slave, who eats all the insects. “Lives! Lives!” While Renfield sleeps, two sexy vampire women enter the room and try to make out with him. I don’t know how they can turn their floating skill on and off, but it works.

There are plenty of doctor gags in this film also. Dr. Seward (Harvey Korman) thinks that enemas are the best cure for all of his patients and as Professor Van Helsing (Mel Brooks) gives an autopsy lecture to a group of medical students, he hopes that they all pass out, which was hilarious.

When Dracula turns into a bat, his face is still the same, but with giant bat ears. Once he finally gets into the bedroom and bites the lovely Lucy Westenra (Lysette Anthony), it’s like he’s drinking a soft drink. Soon Lucy becomes a sexy vampire. When she’s slayed, we learn an important lesson; If a vampire just ate before you slay it, make sure you wear a poncho and put plenty of newspapers down.

After that, Dracula goes after Dr. Seward’s daughter, Mina (Amy Yasbeck, who played Maid Marian on Robin Hood: Men in Tights). “No hickeys.” As they dance in front of a mirror, it looks like Mina is flying. It’s amazing.

This was another great Mel Brooks classic movie. It’s strange that it was the last major spoof film he made, at least that I know of.

Oct 192009
 

I have been a Leslie Nielsen fan for a long time. And who better to costar in Repossessed than Linda Blair, the original star of The Exorcist (25th Anniversary Special Edition), all grown up as Nancy Aglet.  Years ago, the Devil possessed Nancy and was rescued by Father Mayii (Leslie Neilsen). Seventeen years later, the Devil possesses her again, even tough Nancy had led a good life. Although Father Mayii is long retired with a heart condition, he must save Nancy once again.

Some of the most memorable gags were the ones based on The Exorcist. Such as Nancy’s possession being mistaken for PMS and the dangerous split pea soup. There’s even a memorable theme song.

TV hosts Ernest (Ned Beatty) and Fanny (Lana Schwab) of The Ernest and Fanny Miracle Hour also find out about Nancy and decide to televise the exorcism in order to raise money. I can still remember how everyone always adored Fanny’s dog Fufu. “Hi, Fufu.” Sure, Fufu was cute,  but I didn’t think he was that cute. “Bye, Fufu.”

Father Luke and Father Mayii

As Father Mayii and Father Luke (Anthony Starke) do the exorcism to rescue Nancy, Mean Gene Okerlund and Jesse Ventura announce it as if it were a pro wrestling match. I wonder where they’re doing that from if they’re not even in the same room.

Linda Blair at DragonCon 2008

I met Linda Blair at Dragon-Con 2008. She was very nice and was wearing a World Heart Foundation T-shirt. I made a point to tell her that Repossessed was one of my favorite films. She thanked me and said that it was one of her favorites also.

Linda Blair at Spooky Empire 2009

Linda Blair at Spooky Empire 2009

Just recently my sister and I attended her Q&A at the Spooky Empire 2009 Horror Convention in Orlando.  It started out with Linda Blair talking about how important her World Heart Foundation is to her. She put her career on hold to run this charity. Then she talked about how difficult making The Exorcist was for her. She endured a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding as a young girl because of that movie.

A lot of people were asking weird and sort of depressing questions at this Q&A. I was very pleased for asking a question that changed the dreary mood of the Q&A. I asked Linda Blair how she compares her role on The Exorcist to her role on Repossessed. She immediately smiled at me (she didn’t really smile before) and you could tell the audience was glad she was smiling. Linda Blair said that she loves doing comedy. She originally wanted to pursue comedy, but has been more involved with dramatic work.

As for the role of possessed Nancy Aglet in Repossessed, Linda Blair had to figure out how she would play the character. She ended up channeling Jack Nicholson. She even did the voice for a moment and mentioned to look for Jack Nicholson next time that you watch Repossessed. Originally she wanted nothing to do with an Exorcist parody because she felt there was no way she could get the last laugh. However, she is glad she made Repossessed and hopes people enjoy watching it. Repossessed was never meant to demean The Exorcist. The Exorcist is still one of the greatest movies ever made and always will be.

Here’s something else interesting. While my sister and I were waiting for another Q&A to start the next day, a couple of guys sitting near us were talking about how depressing Linda Blair’s Q&A questions were. Were they trying to make Linda Blair cry? Then I mentioned that was why I asked her about her role on Repossessed. One of the guys said, “Dude, that was you? High five.” I was so pleased to find out that I helped end that Q&A on a high note.

I’d have to say that Repossessed is an excellent spoof of one of the scariest movies of all time. Whether this movie is considered a horror film or not, it’s still a classic.