In our fiction-crazy world, there are narratives that may seem like they are miles apart. The truth is that with a little tweaking, they can coexist beautifully together.
The 2004 horror/action-adventure film, Van Helsing, uses Dracula and Frankenstein as a narrative base while adding new flavors and colors that do not exist in the original texts. The title character, Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is not the old man who some of us may remember from Dracula.
He is a monster hunter whose newest job is to stop Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) from using Dr. Frankenstein‘s (Samuel West) research and a werewolf for dangerous purposes. Joining him is Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), who has her own reasons to prevent the Count from seeing his plan to completion.
This is one of those summer popcorn movies that does not require a lot of brain cells. But that’s ok. It is fun, entertaining, and takes characters that we think we know in new directions.
Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is the grandson of the original Dr. Frankenstein. After years of trying to remove himself from his familial past, he is pulled back in and attempts to re-create his grandfather’s work. Co starring the late Peter Boyle (the monster), Marty Feldman (Igor), Teri Garr (Inga) and the late great Madeline Kahn (Elizabeth).
What can I say about this movie? It is immensely quotable and beyond funny. Brooks retains the origins of Mary Shelley’s original novel while putting his own stamp on the story.
And now for your viewing pleasure, the trailer for Young Frankenstein:
I’m also including Putting On The Ritz, it’s the funniest scene in the film.
To Be Or Not To Be is Brook’s 1983 remake of the 1942 original film starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.
Just before World War II, a Polish acting troupe led by Frederick and Anna Bronski (Brooks and his late wife, Anne Bancroft) is preparing for their next production when they learn that it has to be scrapped. The Nazis are massing on the borders of Poland. When Anna starts receiving flowers and visits from a young Polish officer (Tim Matheson), the entire troupe becomes involved in the war.
Brooks and his collaborators kept much of the original screenplay intact while putting their own spin on the film. As he did in The Producers, Brooks taking the sting out of the Nazis (as much as one can), while pointing out the absurdity of their beliefs. This movie is perfect and funny and always enjoyable.