After they are kicked out of their Transylvanian castle by communists, Count Dracula (Christopher Lee, The Wicker Man), and his son Ferdinand (Bernard Menez, Day for Night), end up in posh London, England. The Prince of Darkness finds fame and fortune as an actor in vampire movies while Ferdinand struggles to find his call. Things go relatively well until father and son vie for the soul of the same woman.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“Drink your blood and go to bed!”
In a bizarre coincidence of which cinema is full, the two actors best associated with Bram Stoker’s immortal vampire Count Dracula, Bela Lugosi and Sir Christopher Lee, played the character that made them famous for the last time in a horror spoof: Lugosi in Universal’s 1948 comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Lee in this little-seen 1976 French farce, Dracula and Son (aka Dracula pere et fils).
Regrettably, Dracula and Son lacks a steady flow of laughs — the screenplay could have used more jokes. When it’s funny, it’s really, really, really funny, but good jokes are few and far between despite a worthwhile premise. Strangely enough, at some point, the movie changes gears and turns into a full-blown Hammer-like horror flick.
French director Edouard Molinaro (of La Cage aux Folles fame) simply fails to maximize the comic potential of the material. Since the story places Count Dracula in modern Europe, I believed this was a great opportunity to make fun of the 1970s culture — there is a little bit of that, but not nearly enough. The meta-heavy concept of having horror icon Lee play Dracula as an actor in a vampire flick is handled poorly too.
There are a few great jokes, though. Dracula shopping for a coffin at a funeral home was hilarious. I loved the scene where a sleepy Dracula is constantly interrupted by a chatty vampire bride — Dracula’s solution to the problem had me in stitches! It’s a travesty that the rest of the movie doesn’t live up to these beautifully rendered scenes.
Although Bernard Menez (he is just okay as Dracula’s inept son) is the real star of the movie, Sir Lee walks away with the movie. Lee is absolutely brilliant as he cleverly and amusingly spoofs his most famous role. It’s such a cunning and funny performance that the rest of the movie fares badly in comparison. With a better script, Lee could have soared to new heights — I would have loved to see him in more comedies!
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
It’s such a pity that Sir Christopher Lee’s wonderful comedic spin on Dracula isn’t in a stronger comedy. If only I could magically place Lee in Mel Brooks’s Dracula: Dead and Loving, a movie that desperately needed a strong central performance (Leslie Nielsen was weak)! In any event, if you really want to see a Dracula parody done the right way, I recommend you to watch Love at First Bite (1979), with George Hamilton as the Count. Color, 96 minutes, Rated PG.