When I was a child, I loved to visit my uncle and see what new toys he had acquired since my last visit. Years before I knew who Ridley Scott or Sigorney Weaver was, he had a 18″ Alien action figure. While I had dozens upon dozens of Luke Skywalkers, Darth Vaders, Stormtroopers and Snaggletooths, he was the only person I knew whose parents would spring for a Tie FIghter and Millenium Falcon. However, with all the expensive, rare, and coveted toys that he had in his massive toy box, there was one gadget that he was in possession of that was a favorite of mine, The Laugh Bag.
The Laugh Bag was a small box within a small bag, no larger than my hand, which would produce an insanely annoying laugh with the simple press of a button. We would press that button over and over, often walking around the basement mimicking the laugh ourselves, much to the consternation of my poor grandmother.
When I originally saw today’s film, I loved it for merely one reason. There was a character in the film that had a memorable laugh, that I found to be equally as impressionable as my uncles giggle machine.
<span style=”color: red;”>31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 15: Love at First Bite</span>
Director: Stan Dragoti
Cast: George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Arte Johnson
Country: United States
Specs: 94 mins. / Color / OAR 1.85.1 / MPAA Rating: PG
Rating: ★★★½ / C+
Having been evicted from his home in Transylvania, Count Dracula travels to New York, where he meets whom he believes to be his long lost love, Mina Harker, reincarnated. As he pursues her, her former lover, a descendant of the famous Van Helsing, pursues the count.
Revisiting the film for the first time since I was a child, I only remembered that the film was a comedy. If I were to be viewing the film for the first time, I may be surprised to find it as such at the beginning. As the opening credits begin, a tech music track plays, giving the impression the film about to unroll is a film in the vein of The Lost Boys. However, the moment we see Hamilton, accompanied by the overpowering sounds of howling wolves, and the line that he delivers, we know we are in for a film of a different genre entirely.
Within moments, I was shocked to see Hamilton looking pale, his bronzed skin nowhere in sight. Johnson, as Renfeld, then delivers his memorable laugh, and the tone has been set. There were a number of scenes in the film that were wonderfully crafted send ups, and others that were jovial attempts at juvenile humor. The passage through customs was amongst the best, in pure Zucker Brothers fashion. In fact, I was surprised that the film was not a product of the famous filmmakers (Kentucky Fried Movie, their first effort, preceded this film by 2 years).
Interesting of note, was the timeliness of the scene with Sherman Hemsley, especially since the newest Oxygen show on prosperity gospel preachers (Preachers of L.A.) has been in the news. I also enjoyed seeing Isabel Sanford make a cameo as the fiery judge!
Something I did not remember from my childhood, but became instantly evident upon viewing with my more mature eyes, was the tone of the films comedy. The swinging 70s are on display in full form, with much of the humor focusing on sex and drug use.
Some of the humor was a bit stale, perhaps in part due to its overabundance of use numerous satires since. There have been no shortage of send ups to films in the horror genre, even those that contain the count himself (Dracula Dead & Loving It). While the film surely was no Young Frankenstein, it certainly was more entertaining than Saturday the 14th. I’m glad I revisited this pic. Perhaps you may enjoy doing the same…