Dracula's Lawyer (2010)
AKA: The Perfect Candidate/Dracula's Lawyer (2012) - Promotional Combination DVD Title
(Premiere Date: July 31, 2010 [Fright Night Film Festival])
(Theatrical Release Date: September 2010 [New York City, New York])
(DVD Release Date: October 4, 2011)
(Re-release Date: October 25, 2012)
AS A BAT!!!
The presence of Daisy managed to make the film slightly more adorable than it already would have been, so that sense of abject HORROR was never quite felt. So this time, Dave Campfield as director (and, with Joe Randazzo, co-writer) decided to take things one step farther into the evil territory by facing off not only with Dracula himself. Oh no... THIS TIME... Caesar & Otto meet Dracula's Lawyer!
I'm sorry, I just got a shudder there, just typing that.
Campfield has been bringing us the misadventures of Caesar Denovio (played by Dave himself) and his brother Otto Denovio (played by Paul Chomicki) since 2007's appropriately named Caesar & Otto and has brought forth (and even escalated) the duo's strange brand of self-aware and farcical humor in increasingly crazy ways with more gimmicks and more toys to play with.
The thing about Campfield and his cast(s) and crew(s) at Fourth Horizon Cinema is that a "Gimmick" is only a "Gimmick" in these shorts if they manage to be funny (or make the film more funny).
Case in point, take Dracula's Lawyer, for example. The entire silly circus is filmed in front of a green screen (almost) entirely in black and white. This includes moments that probably don't need to the chromakey effect, like a simple shot of Caesar and Otto sitting on a couch. Sound excessive? Campfield would, I suspect, agree, considering the fact that this movie kicks off with a breaking news report (from a firmly tongue-in-cheek Debbie Rochon) about the cutting edge technology of "Green Screen" and how it "looks so freakin' real", and that's "especially in black and white". We're only interrupted by an overly excited Campfield (as Caesar) eagerly taking notes about this incredible effect as if it hasn't been around forever.
Sound like an eye-roller? It's not. That's the coolness about these Caesar & Otto flicks. Campfield and the gang come off like some of your smartest friends who love to laugh at silly puns that still manage to be over the heads of most people out there. You know they're being ridiculously silly, sure, but you also know these guys are some of your smartest friends, so the silly never translates into stupid. Think... South Park without the fart jokes.
When a lesser-known relative of "THE" Dracula, known as Steven J. "Steve" Dracula (Ed Dennehy), is found dead, Caesar & Otto are immediately sued by Dracula's Lawyer Ed Dennehy (Francis Leik). Yes... sued instead of going to jail. The silly civil trial gets even crazier when the Judge is revealed to be played by none other than the Tromariffic Lloyd Kaufman.
With a sexpot of a defense attorney named F. Bubbles Cochran (Ashley Wren Collins) and witnesses like The Wolfman (Robert Lee Oliver) Dr. Jekyll (Paul Ehlers), the trial gets siller and sillier and sillier!
And it's all in good fun, to say the least. Everything has a classic horror feel and the kind of goofy comedy that both Hanna-Barbera and Abbot and Costello could appreciate. To showcase the acting, directing and special effects skills, Dave Campfield and Fourth Horizon Cinema could have created a series of very serious HORROR or sci-fi shorts... and they would probably have been pretty good. By doing everything they could have done in a less humorous vehicle in a flat out comedy, they avoid all pretense of arrogant showing off. They pull the viewer in with an absurd and, let's face it, quite ridiculous premise and leave them laughing... all the while managing to demonstrate what they can do with ANY genre without actually looking like they're showing off.
And make no mistake, this one is very funny and the special effects, even when obvious, are pretty cool. They even remove all ability to criticize them with the self-aware, never self-important story they surround. Where Dracula's Lawyer does manage to miss its mark is in universal appeal.
It's clear that Dave Campfield doesn't make movies for dummies and his intelligence shines through even when he's playing a bumbling, goofy, selfish guy like Caesar. In many ways, Dracula's Lawyer is a film made for someone like me. I got these obscure references and even laughed harder when they referred back to them in hinting ways later on. But it's hard to imagine that "the masses" would be able to key into this. Sure many viewers out there would get the humor of naming the judge "Stoker Browning" but mostly only film buffs would understand the "Browning" part of the name. Similarly, those who won't recognize Lloyd Kaufman by sight might similarly be lost with the novelty of him PLAYING that character. Those that aren't in on Campfield's joke might also scoff at the idea that "green screen" is something new or that it "looks so freakin' real".
And that is, most assuredly, their loss. There is little doubt that Fourth Horizon's target audience here consists mostly of film buffs and film industry insiders. Just as Campfield seems to be pulling the rug out from under any complaints about his film by making it an undeniably absurd comedy and just as he is dismissing any complaints about his silliness by showing that he's quite intelligent behind the camera, Campfield and company also seem to be slamming the door on those who don't quite get what they're going for. If you're not a film buff or aren't willing to give a great and open minded attempt to getting what they're doing here... you really need not apply.
That said, this still doesn't make Caesar & Otto meet Dracula's Lawyer into something inaccessible or pretentious at all. I'm sure the cast and crew are (rightly) proud of their film, but they never come off as smug or self-congratulatory. They made a really good one here (worth somewhere around Four Stars out of Five), even if it does rely a lot more on its obscure references than some of the other films in the series do. And it's for that very reason that I love this film so much. I have to be fair here... it's not for everyone, but it's most assuredly for me. Classic horror and comedy references along with the same well-made Campfield comedy makes me march straight up like Oliver Twist and say "Please sir, I want some More!" And until I GET mooooooooooooooore... I'll see you in the next reel.
reviewed by J.C. Macek III
Who is thinking about suing... somebody.
Got something to say? Write it!
I could use a blowjob.
WorldsGreatestCritic.com on Facebook