Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Night Dracula Saved the World – review

Director: Bruce Bilson

Release date: 1979

Contains spoilers

There are times when a show is saved because you view it with rose tinted glasses. I am sure that the Night Dracula Saved the World would be one such show – it’s just a shame, therefore, that I never saw it when I was a kid and thus do not have the special colour filtered glasses.

It begins with Dracula (Judd Hirsch) waking up in his coffin. He scares Igor (Henry Gibson) who is watching TV. A news report comes on that suggests that Dracula has summoned all the leading monsters to his castle. The reporter then speculates that this might suggest that reports of Halloween's cancellation might be true. He further speculates that it is Dracula who wishes to cancel Halloween – a view that Dracula finds most offensive. We then cut to a family preparing for Halloween and they furnish us with some Halloween trivia.

the monsters
The monsters arrive and they include Warren the Werewolf (Jack Riley), the Frankenstein creature (John Schuck), the mummy (Robert Fitch), Zabaar the zombie (Josip Elic) and Winnie the witch (Mariette Hartley). Far from wanting to cancel Halloween, Dracula has called them because they are failing to be scary enough. The werewolf shaved his face and hands for a razor commercial and the Frankenstein creature likes to tap dance.

Mariette Hartley as Winnie
Having heard it all Winnie suddenly declares that she quits, she doesn’t want to be a witch anymore, she’s sick of being ugly. The problem is that Halloween cannot start until she flies her broom above the moon. No witch, no Halloween – it was her that started the rumours. She gives Dracula a list of demands – including joint leadership of the monster. When he refuses she leaves.

Judd Hirsch as Dracula
Dracula doesn’t want to let her escape, and so we get a slapstick chase scene, mostly centred on a corridor lined with doors and straight out of Scooby-Doo! She eventually gets away and – in crap bat form – Dracula gives chase. Unfortunately the sun foils any plan he might have had. The next night the monsters would have to go to the witch’s castle and somehow force her compliance.

Disco Dracula
The title is a misnomer – it is not the world but Halloween being saved and Dracula is not the one who saves it. The gags are okay but a little too slapstick for my taste and I don’t think the entire thing has aged that well – this is doubly so for the disco dancing Dracula scene. Kids, at the time, might have found it funny – I don’t know if that would be true today and for an adult (with no childhood investment in the show) it isn’t brilliant. Most of the monsters are wasted but the entire thing is rather short and so beefing their roles up would have been difficult.

Altogether 3.5 out of 10, though I hope I haven’t offended those with rose-tinted specks. The imdb page is here.

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