Mob Scene: Love at First Bite

In my last Dracula Extrapolated post, I noted Love at First Bite‘s splendid spoof of the Universal vampire film. The George Hamilton-starring comedy also treats viewers to a classic send-up of that staple of Universal horror movies: the angry mob scene.

Given an eviction notice by the Communist government, Dracula decides to find a new home in America. Before the undead Count can depart, though, he discovers a crowd of locals gathered outside his castle. Viewing the torchbearers and pitchfork-wielders outside, Dracula marvels: “So they’ve come to pay their respects, have they?” The prompt sound of a rock crashing through a castle window bespeaks a much different motive for the mob.

The laughs come rapid-fire as Dracula attempts to make his way to his carriage through the crowd of rough-justice-seeking rustics. While a violin-player serenades the passing vampire with suspenseful music, an opportunistic hawker chants offscreen: “Get your wolfsbane!” The bumbling sidekick Renfield does the exact opposite of quenching the mob’s ire when he tries to defend his master: “What do you want from him–blood?” One of the “yokels” accosts the Count: “You dirty bat, you bit my mother!” Suave but snarky, Dracula clarifies: “No, Alexei, I bit your mother and your grandmother.” Dracula’s parting words arguably pack the most bite, as the Count warns his harassers: “Have your fun, but remember this. Without me, Transylvania will be as exciting as Bucharest on  a Monday night.”

This early scene provides a perfect setup for the rest of the film. It establishes Dracula as a formidable yet admirable character, someone who can handle a dire situation with a cool head and a witty tongue. The playful restaging of the familiar angry-villager scene also points to the satiric skewering of vampire conventions that the remainder of Love at First Bite so entertainingly presents.

 

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