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31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 15: Love at First Bite

31 Days of Films and Frights – Day 15: Love at First Bite

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>

love_at_first_biteDirector: Stan Dragoti
Year: 1979
Cast: George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Arte Johnson
Language: English
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…

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2013 in Movies

 

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31 Days of Howl-oween: Day 04 – Saturday the 14th

There are so many horror films to choose from for this 31 Day film fest of mine, that I found myself wondering where to begin?  Should I have a theme to them, say Week 1 is comedies, Week 2 is Slasher?  Should I only watch films I had never seen before, or films that I had seen when I was much younger and not since?  Should I simply choose films only available on Blu-ray, so that I could get the best possible viewing experience possible, or should I mix it up with those dusty copies of VHS in my cellar that have never been released to DVD, let alone Blu-ray?

After many restless nights of putting together my list, I finally decided to have no formula.  I simply decided to go with what I felt I wanted to watch, be it old, new, tame, or hard-core.  I’m happy I reached that conclusion, and I’m sure you will be too!  So enjoy these reviews of all colors and stripes, and let me know what you think.

Now if only I could track down some copies of Count Scary clips to bookend these videos…

31 Days of Howl-oween

A Review of Films Filled with Frights

Day 4

Film #04


~ Saturday the 14th ~

Director:  Howard R .Cohen
Year:  1981
Cast:  Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Jeffrey Tambor, Severn Darden
Language:  English
Country:  United States
Specs:  75 mins. / Color / OAR 1.85:1 / MPAA Rating: PG

John (Benjamin) and Mary (Prentiss) inherit John’s uncles house, along with their two children.  When their son discovers an evil book titled “The Book of Evil”, he unwittingly unleashes a series of monstrous characters and events that plague the house.  Meanwhile, a vampire named Waldemar (Tambor) and his wife are after the book themselves, and an exterminator named Van Helsing (Darden) is after Waldemar, and will stop at nothing to see Waldemar, and the book, destroyed.  When the book becomes missing, it’s a race to find the book, before Saturday the 14th arrives, the date that the book prophesied all hell will be let loose upon the world.

This original spoof on the horror genre is so absurd, it is very funny.  Surprising, as I had low hopes for this film.  After-all, the writer brought us such classics I’ve reviewed elsewhere such as “Deathstalker” and “Barbarian Queen I and II”.  Fans of “The Evil Dead” type of humor, or “The Naked Gun” style of humor, should feel right at home watching this horror-comedy.  The jokes are random, the timing is perfect, and the performance from the always jocular Jeffrey Tambor is a scream (couldn’t resist!).  The writing of dialogue here is very fast and dry, with many very memorable lines coming from Waldemar’s deadpan delivery.

Contrary to what I’d read elsewhere, the film is not a spoof on the “Friday the 13th” franchise at all.  Rather, it is a humorous homage to monster films that preceded it, as well as the spate of haunted house films that populated the landscape during the 70’s/early 80’s.  There are certainly creepy creatures, as well as some spooks that are likely to be a little intense for younger viewers, but the film never delves into the truly scary realm, instead playing most of the frights for laughs.

I can safely say that those familiar with some of the classic Universal Monsters will certainly pick up on some of the more obscure “in-jokes”.  For those not as familiar, fret not, for there certainly are many more goofball guffaw’s to be had.

My Rating:  **** / B

Available on Amazon: Saturday the 14th

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2010 in Movies

 

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