15 Funny (?) Vampire Films, vampire movies, vampire comedies, Jim Carrey, Once Bitten, Buffy
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Vampires are often painted as dark, sinister characters with a penchant for gothic fashion and a taste for blood that can never be fully quenched. Granted, their nature doesn't necessarily lend itself to being a laugh riot, but once in a while, we're gifted with bloodsuckers who can see the funny side of their affliction…or if they can't, then at least the viewers can. (For instance, "True Blood" sure as hell isn't a comedy, but if you caught the Season 2 premiere, you saw a truly hilarious scene where a new vampire took a blood taste test to determine which type she prefers.) Bullz-Eye decided to take a trip back through the mists of time to reinvestigate some of the more comedic explorations into the curse of vampirism, skipping over a couple of ostensible classics – neither "The Lost Boys" nor "From Dusk 'Til Dawn" are here – in favor of some interesting obscurities that may not have crossed your radar.

"Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948)
Funny VampiresAs you'll notice throughout this feature, we've endeavored to avoid films which aren't solely vampire-centric, which is why the classic "Monster Squad" didn't make the cut. Still, there's an exception to every rule, and if we're going to make one here, we felt it should be with this comedy classic, one of the first times that Dracula (and the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster, for that matter) made an appearance in any sort of comedic context. Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) work as baggage clerks in LaMirada, Florida, and when Wilbur mishandles two crates belonging to McDougal's House of Horrors museum, Mr. McDougal demands that they deliver them in person so that they can be inspected by an insurance agent. Turns out the crates contain Count Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster. What a stroke of luck that Larry Talbot – a.k.a. the Wolf Man – happens to live in the apartment across from Chick and Wilbur. It's a Universal Monsters reunion! In truth, there really aren't many scenes where the Count – played by the one and only Bela Lugosi – is the one making with the jokes, but watching Chick's skepticism at Wilbur's stammering assurances about the monsters he's seen are enough to make this a full-fledged comedy classic. Wilbur's best line: "Look, Chic, it's a little past sunset, and if Dracula is here, he's gonna be wanting breakfast…and I'm fatter than you, and it ain't gonna be me!" What's most impressive about "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," however, is the feel of the film (aided immeasurably by Frank Skinner's score) and how successfully it straddles the comedy and horror genres of the era, offering as many chills as guffaws. – Will Harris

"The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck" (1967)
Funny VampiresUp-and-coming art house favorite Roman Polanski's first bid for a mainstream hit, "Dance of the Vampires," did well in Europe but the U.S. release was re-cut and given a silly title which promised a broad comedy. What audiences got instead was a somewhat choppy, dryly comic, rather slow-paced homage to classic horror with some brilliantly constructed gags, and the screen's first crucifix-proof vampire Jew. ("Boy, have you got the wrong vampire!") Filmgoers were not pleased. "Vampires" stars Jack MacGowran and Polanski, uncredited, as a 19th century professor and his bumbling assistant setting off to destroy a powerful vampire (Ferdy Mayne) and rescue a damsel in distress (Sharon Tate, Polanski's future wife). Restored for the U.S. market in 1979, the film is a bit loaded today because of Tate's tragically well-known fate. Polanski nevertheless turned it into a successful German-language stage musical in Europe in the late nineties with music by composer Jim Steinman (best known for his "Bat Out of Hell" collaborations with U.S. rocker, Meat Loaf). Ironically enough, the 2002 American version wound up being severely altered by its producers and star Michael Crawford, and was one of the biggest money losers in Broadway history. When will they learn? – Bob Westal

"Love at First Bite" (1979)
Funny VampiresListening to the baying of wolves, Bela Lugosi's 1931-edition Dracula rhapsodized, "Children of the night, what music they make!" George Hamilton's Drac heard the same thing and said, "Children of the night, shut up!" When offered a beverage, Lugosi's blood quaffer said meaningfully, "I never drink….wine." When offered a hit on a joint containing "Maui Wowee" and told by Susan St. James' overage party girls that it's "good shit," an uncharacteristically un-tan Hamilton responds in Lugosi's trademark Romanian accent, "I do not smoke…shit." Less a spoof of vampire flicks than a fish-out-of-water romantic comedy about a Victorian nobleman trying to negotiate the dating scene of Studio 54-era Manhattan, this enjoyably silly film is no one's idea of great cinema, but writer Robert Kaufman's concept of a vampire being the standard bearer for old-style morality and romance is an inherently funny conceit helped immensely by a straight-faced lead performance by Hamilton. Sadly, one highlight, an impressive disco dance between Hamilton and St. James, has been marred by the loss of the original music on various home video release. Fortunately, via the miracle of YouTube, you can see it correctly now. – BW

"Fright Night" (1985)
Funny VampiresWhat would you do if a vampire moved in next door to you? Probably not the same thing that Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) does, which is enlist the help of local TV horror movie host, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), to help him kill the vampire (Chris Sarandon). Not only would you not do the same thing as Charlie, but you likely couldn't, since a guy like Peter Vincent is actually harder to find than a real life vampire these days. It's a profession that's all but extinct at this point, but it's also a big reason why "Fright Night" remains an '80s vampire classic; it speaks to the geeky film fan whose tastes in horror goes back to a time when what was suggested was more shocking than a severed head. It was recently announced that plans were afoot to remake "Fright Night," but something tells me whatever "they" come up with won't be able to touch the charm of the original. After all, what kind of profession could Peter Vincent have in the new take? Webmaster for a horror movie site? – Ross Ruediger

"Once Bitten" (1985)
Funny VampiresLet's not kid ourselves, people: despite the fact that Lauren Hutton was the headliner of this film at the time of its release, the reason people remember the flick is because it stars a very young Jim Carrey. Here, Carrey plays Mark Kendall, a high-school student who's spent six years with the same girl – Robin, played by Karen Kopkins – but has yet to convince her to go all the way. You don't have to agree with his decision to go out on the town with his buds to find a one-night stand, but you can see how someone in that situation might easily fall victim to peer pressure. Unfortunately, his choice for his fling turns out to be a vampire (Hutton) who's on the lookout for a virgin in order to recharge her vampiric batteries. It's a little depressing to see Cleavon Little, the man who once whipped it out in "Blazing Saddles," billed fourth and stuck playing Hutton's gay manservant, but the fact that the film contains one of the rare restrained Jim Carrey performance almost makes up for it. While "Once Bitten" is a far cry from a classic, it has a synth-ridden soundtrack which is so dated that you can't help but smile at the songs, and if you can't bring yourself to watch the whole thing, fear not: the only real can't-miss moment of the film is this classic dance-off. Hands off, indeed. – WH

"Vamp" (1986)
Funny VampiresRemember Chris Makepeace? There was this brief period in the early '80s where it looked like he was going to carve a nice little career for himself. He was part of the cast of "Meatballs," where he presumably impressed someone enough to trust him with the lead in "My Bodyguard" (he did not let them down), but he was never really given the chance to run with that opportunity. In 1986, however, Makepeace was finally handed another leading role to run with. The end result…? He ended up getting outshined by one of his co-stars. But, really, isn't everyone outshined by Grace Jones? "Vamp" is equal parts teen comedy and horror film, but one can't help but feel that screenwriters Richard Wenk (who also directed) and Donald P. Borchers were more than a little inspired by Scorcese's "After Hours," which was released the previous year. Keith (Makepeace) and AJ (Robert Rusler) are trying to join their school's most exclusive fraternity; in order to accomplish this task, they first need to hire a stripper to entertain the brothers. Unfortunately, neither gentleman has a car, so they draft a complete dork (Duncan, played by Gedde "Long Duc Dong" Watanabe) to serve as their chauffeur. Soon, the three of them find themselves in a strip club in the darkest depths of the city, a.k.a. vampire territory, where they're treated to a performance by the strange but sensual Katrina (Jones). The good news? One of the waitresses at the club, Allison (Dedee Pfeiffer), went to high school with the guys. The bad news? Virtually everyone in the place is a vampire, and they quickly decide that it's time for a feast. (What we don't know, however, is if Allison is one of them.) The vampire makeup in "Vamp" looks pretty cool even now, and the blend of action, comedy, and horror is surprisingly effective…and, one can't help but notice, is very, very reminiscent of "From Dusk Till Dawn" at times. – WH

"My Best Friend Is a Vampire" (1988)
Funny VampiresRobert Sean Leonard spent a very long time being "the guy from 'Dead Poets Society'" before becoming "the guy from 'House' who was in 'Dead Poets Society.'" Very rarely, however, is he remembered as "the guy from 'My Best Friend Is A Vampire.'" There are a couple of reasons for this, the most substantial of which is that the film plays like an unabashed amalgam of "Once Bitten" (teenager gets bitten by a sexy female vampire) and "Fright Night" (there's a vampire hunter with a British accent), but without the star power of Lauren Hutton or Roddy McDowall. You have to give the film credit for creating a character in Jeremy – that's Leonard – who starts the movie by seeing that the film's ostensibly nerdy girl, Nora Blake (Cheryl Pollak), is actually kind of cute, but instead of making her turn out to be a Cinderella in disguise, Nora really is a big ol' nerd. Naturally, Jeremy doesn't want to let Nora know that he's been turned into a vampire, but he's got his buddy Ralph (Evan Mirand) to serve as his confidant. Plus, after being turned, Jeremy is approached by Modoc (Rene Auberjonois), a fellow vamp who gives him the lowdown on his transformation. As you can see, even though there aren't any big stars, the cast is still pretty solid, with David Warner playing the aforementioned vampire hunter, Prof. Leopold McCarthy, and Paul Willson ("Cheers," "Office Space") serving as his assistant, Grimsdyke. "My Best Friend Is A Vampire" isn't a classic, but if you enjoy '80s teen comedies and you've never seen it, it's worth a rental. – WH

"Vampire's Kiss" (1989)
Funny VampiresProbably the only movie on our list that doesn't have an actual vampire in it, instead, "Kiss" offers up the sordid, twisted tale of Peter Loew, an executive type played by Nicolas Cage. The guy is slowly going off the deep end and merely believes he's been turned into a blood-sucker by a vampire created in his head (Jennifer Beals). In one scene he goes to buy a pair of teeth, but can't afford the convincing, expensive set, so he settles on the cheap plastic ones. Most of the movie's dramatic thrust comes from his continual harassment of his secretary Alva (Maris Conchita Alonso), which treads the fine line between black comedy and genuinely disturbing. Cage is absolutely on fire in this movie, and it is surely one of the most underrated performances of his entire career. In larger circles, the movie is perhaps best known for a scene in which Cage eats a real live cockroach, and rumor has always suggested that director Robert Bierman made him do it several times. – RR

"Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat" (1990)
Funny VampiresThey just don't make movies like this anymore…and while some might say that's a good thing, it feels like a mixed blessing in the case of "Sundown," the last film ever made by Vestron Pictures. It's a completely batshit premise – no pun intended – which posits that all of the vampires in America have moved to a small rural western town called Purgatory and are living off a self-produced blood substitute. (This was almost 20 years before TruBlood, mind you.) Unfortunately, when the factory that produces the substance has issues, they call in an outsider to assist…one whose wife happens to be the ex of one of the vampires, played by Maxwell Caulfield. Oh, but Caulfield isn't the only "name" in this film. You've got the late David Carradine as the head of the vamps, Bruce Campbell as a member of the Van Helsing family, and appearances from Deborah Foreman ("Valley Girl"), Dana Ashbrook ("Twin Peaks"), and the always-great M. Emmet Walsh. This is the sort of film that seems to have been tailor-made to appear on the USA Network's late, great "Up All Night" series; it's full of eccentric characters and off-the-wall humor, regularly bouncing between being a comedy, a Western, and a horror movie. If cult cinema makes your mouth water but you've never seen this film, then it's time to head to Netflix post-haste. – WH

"Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" (1992)
Funny VampiresJoss Whedon's first produced screenplay, about a flighty, popular teen who turns out to be a once-in-a-generation vamp-slaughtering super-heroine, suffered the fate of innumerable first scripts: its producers changed it completely. Indeed, Whedon and the legion of fans of the widely acclaimed, Marvel comics-inspired "Buffy" TV show that emerged a few years later have pretty thoroughly disowned the original film, a light comedy starring Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry as the dude in distress, Donald Sutherland as Buffy Summers' first "watcher," and Rutger Hauer and Paul Reubens as the main vampires. Still, if the seriocomic actioner Whedon envisioned wasn't in the cards this time around, some wit still shines through the pedestrian direction by Fran Rubel Kazui. It's also one of those teen comedies in which seemingly every bit player had a career in ensuing years. Among others, Hilary Swank, David Arquette, character actor Stephen Root ("Office Space"), Natasha Gregson Wagner, and an uncredited Rikki Lake and Ben Affleck can be spotted. There are worse movies on this list, but when Kuzui's team recently threatened to make a new vampire slayer project, probably sans Whedon, no one was excited. – BW

"Innocent Blood" (1992)
Funny VampiresThis is a vampire comedy in the same way that "An American Werewolf in London" was a werewolf comedy, which is to say that it all depends on how gruesome you think a film can be and still make you laugh at its unlikely situations. Although he'd enjoyed almost a solid decade of box office successes, director John Landis's star had begun to wane with the release of the 1991 Sylvester Stallone mobster comedy, "Oscar." Why he thought the solution to his woes would be another mobster-themed comedy is hard to say, but one presumes he figured that there was something interesting in the concept of blending mobsters and vampires. And if nothing else, "Innocent Blood" does offer an intriguing premise: what would happen if a sexy vampire (Anne Parillaud) fed on a gang boss – Salvatore "Sal the Shark" Macelli, played by Robert Loggia – and turned him into one of her kind? The answer: he'd start doing the same thing to his men, thereby making the whole lot of them into the strongest crime family in Pittsburgh. Caught in the middle is Joseph Gennaro (Anthony LaPaglia), an undercover cop who'd been part of the gang but had his cover blown immediately before the vampire took a bite out of crime, as it were. Things don't really start to get funny until Macelli's transformation, but once that happens, Loggia makes the most out of his character; Don Rickles also gets a few fun moments as Macelli's attorney, Manny Bergman, particularly after Macelli turns him and he decides to open up the curtains and let the sun shine in. "Innocent Blood" was intended as Parillaud's big American break following her international success as the "Nikita" in "La Femme Nikita," but while she looks great, acting in English clearly isn't her forte, and her hot bod can't make up for the deficiencies in her delivery. – WH

"Dracula: Dead and Loving It" (1995)
Funny VampiresMel Brooks surprised just about everyone by pulling off a career renaissance in 2001, when he transformed one of his much beloved films, "The Producers," into one of the most successful Broadway musicals in recent years. It almost made us forget about the fact that his most recent film hadn't been a whole lot to write home about. We can thank Francis Ford Coppola for his 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" for inspiring Brooks to add to his list of film parodies, but while there are laughs to be had, they're far more hit-and-miss than in his earlier works. "Dead and Loving It" is often dismissed these days because the Lord of the Vampires is played by Leslie Nielsen, but at the time, Nielsen hadn't yet begun to over-saturate the market with sub-par slapstick comedies. (He'd really only done the "Naked Gun" films at this point.)  What makes the film worth seeing, however, is Peter MacNicol's film-stealing performance as Renfield. It's no surprise that Brooks makes the most out of his role as Van Helsing, and it's still nice to see Harvey Korman as Dr. Seward, even if he is saddled with a recurring joke about being obsessed with enemas. Oh, and there's also a short but sweet appearance by the late Anne Bancroft, a.k.a. Mrs. Mel Brooks, as a gypsy woman named Madame Ouspenskaya. In the end, though, Brooks probably always knew that, no matter how funny the film turned out, it was always destined to receive the same four-word review from most critics: "It's no 'Young Frankenstein.'" – WH

"Vampire in Brooklyn" (1995)
Funny VampiresThe idea of Wes Craven directing Eddie Murphy in a horror comedy would seem to be a win-win scenario, a film that couldn't possibly fail at the box office, but for some reason, audiences were lukewarm to "Vampire in Brooklyn," and critics didn't seem to care a whole lot for it, either. To watch it now, however, is to find a lost classic, and…no, wait, hear me out! Maybe it's because Murphy hasn't done a film aimed at an adult audience in ages, but the film is a lot of fun. Murphy's character, a vampire named Maximillian, often plays like a dark version of Prince Akeem from "Coming to America," not least of which because Craven finds an excuse for Murphy to play a couple of different characters in this film as well. Ironically, though, those are the lamest, most unnecessary parts of the film. Kadeem Hardison ("A Different World") and John Witherspoon (the "Friday" franchise) bring the comedy quite handily on their own, with the former literally falling apart as Maximillian's "ghoul." Murphy would've been better suited to remain solely as the titular character, who gives him the opportunity to cut a suitably ominous figure. As his female lead, Angela Bassett takes the film as seriously as the vampiric element requires. Okay, so maybe Craven's attempts at blending comedy and horror are pretty awkward, but you can't say he didn't learn anything from the experience; his next film was "Scream," where the comedy/horror blend was almost perfect. – WH

"Vampires Anonymous" (2003)
Funny VampiresA few years ago, Bullz-Eye chatted with Michael Madsen  about how many of his films end up going to DVD, and he explained the situation thusly: "People will promise you the fucking world, they'll promise you anything to get you in the movie…and then, seven times out of ten, it's not that way." Although Madsen only has a small role in "Vampires Anonymous," we like to think that he's at least relatively pleased with this small obscurity from his resume. Vic Weller (Paul Popowich) is a vampire who's found himself unable to curb his urges, so he calls up the organization known as Vampires Anonymous, which quickly finds him a new location in a small North Carolina town, where he can feel free to gorge himself on sheep until he gets into the habit of staying clean of human blood. Predictably, he falls in love with a local girl (Carolyn Lawrence) and has to keep his murderous nature in check around her, even though he has feelings for her. A bearded Madsen plays Geno, Vic's sponsor in VampAnon, who's never more than a phone call away, even though he's usually pretty grumpy with his charge. ("I was not aware that I was wearing my Mr. Know-It-All hat today.") It's not a consistently hilarious flick, and the recurring gag about redneck "sheep shaggers" may make you feel queasy, but Madsen's always good for a laugh, and the VampAnon meetings and 12-step title cards are funny enough to make you imagine the possibilities of a sitcom based around the organization. – WH

"Netherbeast Incorporated" (2007)
Funny VampiresThere are so many names of note within the cast of this film…Dave Foley, Darrell Hammond, Jason Mewes, Judd Nelson, Robert Wagner, and Steve Burns (yes, the dude from "Blue's Clues"…that your initial question almost can't help but be, "Why haven't I heard of this before?" The only real answer, however, is that it was an indie film that didn't have the marketing power of a major studio behind it. Granted, it's also a dark, quirky comedy, and those don't necessarily inspire big business, but you have to respect any movie set in a phone company run by vampires and takes the time to present the theory that, once upon a time, we had a President of the United States who sported a pair of fangs. A great deal of the plot revolves around Turner Claymore (Hammond), the head of the company, who's contracted a disease that the vampires call "the retardations" – more or less their equivalent of Alzheimer's – and is on the verge of revealing the company's secret to the outside world. It's a dangerous situation, but it does present the highly likeable Otto Granberry (Burns) with the opportunity to meet the very cute Pearl Stricklett (Amy Davidson, late of "8 Simple Rules"). It must be said that Dave Foley is almost completely wasted here, but at least Jason Mewes gets a highly quotable running joke out of his part. ("Eye of the jackal!") Oh, by the way, in the film, the vampires don't call themselves vampires. They prefer the term "netherfolk," which brings to mind a quote from one Dr. Julius Hibbert: "And hillbillies prefer to be called 'sons of the soil.' But it ain't gonna happen." – WH

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