May 09, 2012 9:17am EST
Menacing, seductive, and sinister; words that could aptly be used to describe the likes of Count Dracula. The one label rarely assigned to vampires is… funny. This week, Tim Burton brings to the screen the film adaptation of the 1960s/70s television series Dark Shadows, centering on the undead fiend Barnabas Collins. Though the series was hardly hilarious, except on the few occasions wherein we giggled at the rampant cheesiness, the film version takes a decidedly more comical approach to vampires. That got us thinking about our favorite blood-sucker comedies, and we’ve listed a few of the battiest below.
It’s gotten to the point that when Nicolas Cage’s name is listed amongst the cast of a new film, we happily head to the theater just to see how unhinged his performance will be. While this is something that’s certainly become more pronounced of late, Cage’s propensity toward lunacy is nothing new. In 1988’s Vampire’s Kiss, he plays a publishing executive who believes he has been bitten by a beautiful female vampire. He then spends the remainder of the film spiraling into full-blown madness. His accent becomes cartoonish, he chases his employees around the office, and he begins to model his physicality after Max Schreck from the classic Nosferatu. I think my favorite moment is when Cage goes running down the streets of New York screaming, “I’m a vampire, I’m a vampire,” at the top of his lungs. And you thought he was a nutjob in Ghost Rider.
Before Jim Carrey was a Grinch, a cable guy, or even a pet detective, he was virginal high school student Mark Kendall in 1985’s Once Bitten. It’s the story of a geeky guy who gets tired of waiting for his girlfriend to “give him a taste,” and his desires lead him right into the arms of a gorgeous vampire. From that moment on, Mark experiences changes not quite in keeping with those of the other boys his age. Carrey proves perfectly cast in this silly, sexy, and unrepentantly '80s comedy; the countess’ coffin looks like something right out of Miami Vice. His rubber-faced comedic presence is where the film derives most of its laughs, and provides a fitting foreshadow for the performances that would later define his career.
I know what you’re thinking, Fright Night is a horror movie and not a comedy, right? While the majority of the film is aiming for shrieks over chuckles, Roddy McDowall provides us with plenty of comedy fodder. He plays Peter Vincent, former horror film star reduced to hosting a campy late-night scary movie show on television. When a local teen comes to him and tells him of an actual vampire loose in the city, Vincent is forced to play the hero for real. Unfortunately, he’s a bit of a coward. In one of the film’s most hilarious moments, Vincent musters the courage to confront the villainous vamp (played with devilish poise by Chris Sarandon) with a crucifix, only to see him crush the cross in his bare hands. The speed and cravenness with which McDowall exits the room is hysterical.
Love at First Bite
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Dracula were suddenly transported to the 1970s? Well if you watched Hammer Films’ Dracula A.D. 1972 and found it to be strikingly devoid of funny, perhaps you would be better suited by Stan Dragoti’s 1979 comedy Love at First Bite. After having to vacate his Transylvanian castle, Dracula (George Hamilton) travels to New York City. There he stalks a tasty-looking Susan Saint James while her boyfriend, Richard Benjamin, tries to expose Drac for exactly what he is. Love at First Bite has an impressive comedic wingspan. Arte Johnson’s Renfield is outstanding, Richard Benjamin’s impotent and erroneous attempts to slay Dracula (at one point with silver bullets) are riotous, and if there is anything more absurd than seeing a vampire on the disco floor, I don’t believe I’ve seen it.
Dracula: Dead and Loving It
While not likely to stake a claim as Mel Brooks’ premier horror comedy, that title still firmly belongs to Young Frankenstein, I really enjoy his irreverent approach to Count Dracula. In Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Brooks takes a bite out of everything from Bela Lugosi’s iconic first incarnation of Bram Stoker’s classic tale to Francis Ford Coppola’s arty 1992 iteration. The great Leslie Nielsen trips masterfully into the role, once again demonstrating his adeptness for slapstick and nonsense. You also can’t help but love Brooks himself as an entirely whacked out Van Helsing. To me, the film’s funniest moment is the one in which it harkens back to the classic Hammer Drac films. As Jonathan Harker (played by Wings’ Steven Weber) drives a stake into a female vamp’s heart, he is dosed in a bucket of blood disproportionate to reason.
April 04, 2002 12:58pm EST
Woody Allen's new comedy Hollywood Ending will open the Cannes Film Festival on May 15, and the veteran American director will be attending the festivities for the first time. Other Allen films, such as Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters, have been shown at the festival but the usually press-shy Allen has never made an appearance.
"Over the last few years, they have invited me so many times that I now want to offer them something in return: I will therefore come personally to present my film Hollywood Ending, which I think will be perfect for the event," Allen said in a statement, Reuters reported. The film stars Allen, Tea Leoni, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, George Hamilton and Treat Williams.
The employees of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno got a nice surprise before Monday's taping: $1,000 for each year he/she worked on the show, Variety reported. Leno just wanted them all to know how much he appreciated them. That's mighty nice of him. The show will celebrate its 10th anniversary May 23 and NBC is airing a special one-hour special April 30 at 10 p.m.
Want to know even more about "Ginger" Spice, aka Geri Halliwell? Yeah, well, neither do we, but apparently someone does. Britain's Mirror reported she has signed a deal to write a second autobiography for $719,000, detailing her life after leaving the Spice Girls. Her first book If Only, talked about her childhood and her years with the girl pop band.
Robin Wright Penn has joined Robert Downey Jr. in the film The Singing Detective, with producer Mel Gibson also taking a small role. The film, a remake of the popular BBC television mini-series, centers on a invalid (Downey) whose sickly hallucinations have him creating an alternative reality where he is fighting Nazis in the 1940s.
Matt Damon going on stage. The handsome actor be performing in the London West End production of This Is Our Youth, along with fellow actors Casey Affleck (what? No Ben?) and Summer Phoenix. This threesome will be taking over from Anna Paquin, Hayden Christensen and Jake Gyllenhaal on April 22.
The CBS Survivor team want to use Thailand's Tartutao Islands for the next series, despite some resistance from environmentalists, who claim TV production may further disrupt the region's ecological system. Several environmental groups blame the 1999 film The Beach, which filmed on a Thai island, for causing extensive damage there. The Thai government, however, has told Reuters they are in the final stages of approving CBS' request.
Michael Nader, who played the suave Count Dimitri on ABC's All My Children for nearly 10 years, is suing ABC for breach of contract. The actor has been off the show since February 2001, when he claims in his suit he became ill and needed medical treatment. His suit alleges that ABC refused to allow him to come back to work and would not let him out of his contract. Nader was also sentenced to three years probation for possession of a controlled substance in May 2001.
Heavy mental rocker Ozzy Osbourne and President George Bush will dine together. Apparently, the president has become a big fan of the MTV reality show The Osbournes, which follows the lives of Osbourne and his family, and wants to meet the singer. Ah, to be a fly on the wall at that meeting.
In the latest on the air rage trial of R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, prosecutor David Bate is claiming Buck is lying about what happened to save face. Hmmm. Is there any other reason to lie? Buck has maintained his innocence, blaming a bad reaction from a sleeping pill and several glasses of red wine. He does not recall his alleged actions.
French-Canadian superstar Celine Dion has still got it. Her newest album New Day Has Come sold more than half a million copies its first week in the stores, shooting it to No. 1 on the charts. Well done, Celine.
Country singer Garth Brooks and R&B king Stevie Wonder will be honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame at their induction and awards ceremony June 13. Wonder will be receiving a lifetime achievement award, while Brooks will pick up the Hitmaker Award.
Remember Bob Newhart? The Kennedy Center hasn't forgotten the TV and film comedian; they've awarded him their fifth annual Mark Twain prize for American humor. Newhart told the Associated Press, "Mark Twain once said, 'It is strange the way the ignorant and inexperienced so often and so undeservedly succeed when the informed and the experienced fail,' which is certainly true in this case."
The irreverant Laugh-In hosts Dick Martin and the late Dan Rowan finally get their own stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The 80-year-old Martin accepted the honor Tuesday (Rowan died in 1987), and on hand were Laugh-In castmates Lily Tomlin, Henry Gibson, Arte Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Gary Owens and Jo Anne Worley.