You know how movies like that happen? Because of the concept of . . . TALENT. How come, no matter how cynical they are, no matter whether they're producers, directors, actors or grips, no matter how many horrible casting stories they've seen, they still believe -- all of them, no exceptions -- in the concept of Talent. I mean, some call it talent, some call it genius, some call it acting ability. But they all believe there's some mysterious quality that separates the good actor from the bad one.
So when an actor goes to an audition, and doesn't get the part, they're often crushed because "I KNOW I could do that part. I KNOW I could do it better than anyone else. I KNOW I could do it better than the guy they gave it to." And the point is, all of that is PROBABLY TRUE. But they gave it to some guy they had heard of, because they think by putting his name on the video box, they can sell more copies, even though the last hit he made was in 1981 and so he's "just a name," but maybe it'll be worth a few bucks. And the fading star may have a drinking problem, and may not even CARE about acting anymore, but it doesn't matter, and the producer doesn't care, because they're not buying his acting, they're buying his name.
There are literally HUNDREDS of examples of this, and yet the frustrated aspiring actor still believes in the idea of "being discovered." What's even worse, the guy who keeps getting jobs on the basis of an old TV series thinks that he's being hired because of HIS talent. And the director thinks: "Wow, we got this talented guy. I've HEARD OF HIM." The fact is, for every great Hollywood part, there are probably 500 actors laboring in university theaters and regional opera companies and community playhouses who could do it BETTER than the star who's actually hired. And I think the audience knows this. What's amazing is that HOLLYWOOD DOESN'T KNOW IT. I mean, Hollywood HAS to know it, right? Because Hollywood INVENTED it. But you've still got all these old cynical directors and producers talking about "star quality" -- which, let's face it, is half good looks and half good lighting -- "performance of a lifetime" -- which means the star finally did something different from what she did in her last ten movies, and "that special magic." "That special magic" usually means she's 17 years old, gorgeous and willing.
Of all the key players who combine to make a movie -- writer, director, cinematographer, sound man, art director, editor, composer -- I would put the actors about eighth or ninth in order of importance. And as movies get more sophisticated, and more visual, the actor's role diminishes. It will never diminish on the stage, of course, but in film you can sometimes do the same thing the actor does with animation or effects or old footage. As Robert Mitchum once said, "Rin Tin Tin was the greatest actor Hollywood ever had." So my question is: Why don't they just cut the crap? Does anybody know what I'm talking about here?
All right, at least Mel Brooks got the casting right in our next flick,
"Dracula: Dead and Loving It." Leslie Nielsen, Harvey Korman, Amy Yasbeck,
who actually knows how to do an English accent. You know the plot so let's
do the drive-in totals and get it started. We have:
Two dead bodies.
Two undead bodies.
One paper cut.
Four gallons blood.
Stake to the heart.
Flaming Leslie Nielsen.
It's got some pretty funny stuff in it. I give it three stars. Check it out.
[fading] They've stopped putting Winona Ryder in period flicks, haven't they? She's doing "Heathers 2" now. I don't mind that. I don't mind Andrew McCarthy in "Saint Elmo's Fire." I just don't wanna see Andrew McCarthy in "The Merchant of Venice." You guys know what I'm talking about? Sly Stallone is always complaining that no one will cast him as a doctor or a lawyer. Sly! You're not a doctor! You're not a lawyer! They're not gonna let you do "King Lear," even when you ARE 84!
Have we noticed that there's a slight discrepancy between the Francis Coppola "Dracula" and the Mel Brooks "Dracula"? In the former, Jonathan Harker goes to Dracula's castle in Transylvania, and in the latter, Renfield goes to the castle. Guess which one's correct? The Mel Brooks version! Bram Stoker had Renfield go to Transylvania, where he meets Anne Bancroft doing that thing with her throat. Anne Bancroft, of course, being Mel Brooks' wife. Okay, let's see which long-distance company we should use, and then get back to the flick.
[fading] Why do all these commercials make you CERTAIN you're paying way too much for your phone calls? I change long-distance companies four times a week. Can we go back to the way it was on "Andy Griffith"? Just pick up the phone and ask Sarah to connect you to Floyd down at the barber shop? How much would I have to pay for that?
Has anyone but me noticed that every woman in this flick has HUGE . . . ucipital mapillaries? Amy Yasbeck, who I'm sure you guys remember from the last Mel Brooks picture we showed, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," is Mina here, and that's Lysette Anthony as the lascivious Lucy. Lysette kept getting cast as stuffy English Rose-type characters, till she posed nekkid for Playboy to shake things up a little. And that mighta been where Woody Allen saw her when he cast her in "Husbands and Wives" -- remember the bimbo aerobics instructor who Sidney Pollack starts working out with, if you know what I mean and I think you do? That was Lysette Anthony. Okay, ads and then back to the flick.
[fading] You can't really make Woody Allen jokes anymore. People go, "Oh gross." Even though he MARRIED THAT GIRL. He did the decent thing, right? It would be different if he just wrangled a few anaconda wraparounds out of her, but they went to the church and DID IT. Does he get any credit for that? What am I missing here?
Mel Brooks as Van Helsing -- never let it be said that Mel won't get dirty when he has to. Really, though, not much different than Anthony Hopkins's version of Van Helsing, don't you think? You guys know that Mel Brooks' company produced "The Fly," only the greatest David Cronenberg flick ever made? Also did "The Elephant Man," "84 Charing Cross Road," "My Favorite Year" and "Frances." The one with Jessica Lange -- not really quite as good as the one with the talking mule. Anyhow, Mel Brooks never puts his full name in the credits of his more serious flicks cause he doesn't want people to go in with Mel Brooks on the brain. But on the other hand, he doesn't get recognized as the classy filmmaker that he sometimes is. Kind of a shame. Course, sometimes he's just a guy who likes to write enema jokes. All right, back in a bit.
[fading] You guys probly don't remember the "Francis" movies. The precursor to "Mr. Ed." That's where they invented the technique to make large livestock appear to be talking. Most people say it involves peanut butter. But the guy who trained Francis the talking mule would never give away his secret, cause he thought it would provide job security. Which it did -- because they hired the same guy to train Mr. Ed! See, this is something you could submit to "Find That Flick" on our website at tnt.turner.com/joebob. "Joe Bob, what was that movie from the fifties where Piper Laurie and a talking donkey break up a crime ring?" Or you could be the one to identify it. "Why, that's 'Francis Goes to the Races,' you moron!" Or forget about the contests and just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want a t-shirt, though, do the contest. And be a little nicer, okay? Jeez.
Peter McNicol is pretty funny in this movie, as the bug-eating idiot Renfield. Seen these days in the popular "Ally McBeal." Now THERE's something that will make you puke. You know, this isn't the first Dracula parody. We covered some of the other Dracula flicks during the first movie, but we didn't cover the COMEDY Dracula flicks. You know what the first one was, right? Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, from 1949. Okay, there were a couple other monsters in there, too. What about "Space Ship Sappy" from 1957, where the Three Stooges meet a vampire? And, of course, there's "El Castillo de los Monstruos" from 1958. Ever seen that? Spanish flick -- hilarious. Bela Lugosi spoofed himself in "Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire," as did Christopher Lee when he went to Italy to make "Uncle Was a Vampire." We all remember Roman Polanski's vampire comedy, " The Fearless Vampire Killers," and George Hamilton in "Love at First Bite," but who remembers "The Maltese Bippy" from 1969, where Rowan and Martin square off against a vampire? Or "Bunnicula, the Vampire Rabbit"? Not to mention a bunch of flicks that make the list due to their titles alone? Like "Dragula," "Trampire," "Spermula," and "Blackula." Guess which one's NOT rated X? Anyhow, you guys get the idea, right? Back to the "Dracula: Dead and Loving It," after the ads.
[fading] "Blackula" is a great movie. "Blackenstein" sucks, though. I didn't mention "Deafula," a Dracula flick done completely in sign-language. Pretty funny when the victims start SCREAMING with their fingers.
You know, this movie's not bad, but there's a lot of really funny guys in it whose talents aren't being fully utilized. I mentioned Harvey Corman before as Dr. Seward -- he's just playing straight man to Mel Brooks here. Which is what he did with Tim Conway on "The Carol Burnett Show" -- remember how he'd always crack up at what Tim Conway was doing? But Harvey was pretty funny himself on that show. Steven Weber's a pretty funny guy, big star of "Wings." He and Amy Yasbeck were reunited on that show, right? Didn't she play the sister, the one without the Southern accent? Actually, there are some funny scenes coming up here, so let's do the ads and get back to be "Dracula: Dead and Loving It." Or as it's translated in France, "Dracula: Dead and Pleased." If it had Jerry Lewis in it, THEN they'd call it "Dracula: Dead and Loving It."
[fading] [perusing a clipboard] Does Count Chocula count as a Dracula parody? I was wrong. There have been about FIFTY Dracula parodies. Count Chocula is borderline, though. Breakfast cereal as satire. How very Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol! Andy Warhol produced a Dracula film. What was the title of that thing? What? Oh yeah, "Andy Warhol's Dracula." 1974. Did Andy play the part himself, or just drip some fluorescent paint on one of his groupies? Maybe he USED Count Chocula as Dracula. It would be very Warholian, wouldn't it? [off] Yes, sir. Yes. Yes, we're moving on. Right now, sir.
I should mention that this flick got a very special award in 1995. It was named the most boring comedy of the year by the Boring Institute. The Boring Institute is located in New Jersey, and has only one member: the Institute's founder, president and membership chairman. He limits membership because meetings would be too boring. This movie's not THAT bad. And according to Mel Brooks, it did VERY well in Transylvania, yuck yuck. Okay, that part with the Dracula Tango was just WAY too short, but hang out through this last set of commercials, cause then there's 25 minutes of uninterrupted high-larity. I promise.
[fading] Every scene where Leslie Nielsen tries to hypnotize someone is great. When he keeps saying "You are getting sleeeepy," and Renfield keeps falling asleep before he could tell him what to do. And when he tells the usherette "You will remember nothing," and then she can't remember what he told her to do. And when he orders Mina and the maid around the bedroom -- stuff cracks me up. But nothing cracks me up like that Old Faithful geyser of blood that spews up out of Lucy's body. Now THAT is funny. That's more gore than TNT has allowed on this network in three years. And it took Mel Brooks to get it past the high sheriffs. Congratulations, Mel!
That last line, the one in yiddish -- Mel Brooks says he likes to throw in jokes that the only people who'll get it are the three old Hassidic guys in the back row. Okay, I wanna let you know that next week on "Joe Bob's Hollywood Saturday Night," we have two movies featuring men in uniform -- priests and fly boys. I'm talking about, of course, "The Exorcist" and "Top Gun."
That's it for me, Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you to borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back.
You guys hear the one about the guy who's eating in a fancy restaurant with a gorgeous redhead sitting at the next table? The guy has been checking her out since he sat down, but he doesn't have the nerve to talk to her. Suddenly she sneezes and her glass eye comes flying out of its socket towards the guy. He reaches out, grabs it out of the air, and hands it back. The woman says, "Oh my, I'm sooo sorry," and pops her eye back in place. Then she says, "Let me buy your dinner to make it up to you." They have a great dinner together, and afterwards the woman invites him to the theater, and out for drinks. She pays for everything, and then she asks him if he'd like to come to her place for a nightcap . . . and stay for breakfast the next morning. Next morning, she cooks him a gourmet breakfast. The guy is amazed! Everything's been incredible. He tells her, "You know, you are the perfect woman. Are you this nice to every guy you meet?" Woman says, "No, you just happened to catch my eye."
Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in will never die.
[fading] An Indian brave is sick and dying. So the village medicine man tells him his only cure is to hunt down and kill a large deer. Then he has to skin the animal and dry the hide, cut the hide into 30 long thin strips and eat one strip a day until it's all gone. Then report back to the medicine man. So he manages to go out and kill the deer and skin it and start eating the strips. On the thirtieth day, he eats the last strip, and even though he's almost dead, he crawls to the teepee of the medicine man. Medicine man says "You look terrible. What happened?" Indian says, "The thong has ended, but the malady lingers on."
© 2000 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights
Joe Bob also reviewed Linda Blair's spoof of the Exorcist, Repossessed, which costarred Leslie as the priest, check it out