Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Cinemasochists Review of "Argentos' Dracula" or "Dracula 3-D"

Bram Stoker's book "Dracula" has been adapted in some way, shape, or form over 200 times. It is only second to Sherlock Holmes, who as of the last decade has had a hugely successful resurgence. In fact, the concept of a seducer vampire that Bram Stoker eloquently created in 1897 has also been prevalent in pop culture in the last decade. Straying from the source has been a blessing in disguise for these modern adaptations. Twilight turned it into teen soap and even a major network television drama about Dracula sets the titular character up as a sort of Victorian Bruce Wayne.
With all of these adaptations around, what else can be said or done for such a beloved horror story? Apparently nothing according to master of horror Dario Argento. His 2012 adaptation of the novel is the closest thing we've had to a literal interpretation since Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 rock opera-esque "Bram Stokers Dracula".
This was supposedly shot in 3D and if you were unlucky enough to sit through this in the theatre, you could've caught it in it's intended form. I however, watched in on Netflix, so I was forced to only watch it in only two dimensions. I imagine the 3D does not help. In fact, I don't think anything could help this production. Right from the first frame, you notice the production value is that of a European soap opera, and I imagine it was made with a similar crew. I did forgive this however, because production value is not as important as story and here, fortunately for the film makers, this is a great story. This good faith only lasted about an hour so when I realized that this was only half way over. As it goes on, and on, and on, the production value doesn't bother you so much as the pacing. This film is a snail crawl.
If you're not familiar with the story, I'm sorry that this is your first foray into it.
It begins with a superfluous introduction complete with gratuitous nudity and a death by owl. Yes, by owl. In other Dracula stories, it's assumed he can take shape as a wolf or a bat. In this film, he shape shifts into both, but also in a random act of artistic liberty, as an owl, cockroaches, ants and one other absolutely ridiculous transformation you have to see to believe.
Jonathan Harker, a young,  librarian is sent to visit Count Dracula below the Carpathian mountains on business that is not made too clear in the film. Harker is married to Mina, a close friend of the mayor's daughter and comes to visit only to find Jonathan missing after being bit by the Count and left in his castle.
Mina's friend Lucy is later bit and transformed into a strange entity in which Mina cannot describe. Due to the strange occurrences happening, a mysterious man named Van Helsing (played-I mean, phoned in by Rutger Hauer) comes to town to warn Mina whom she may be dealing with.
Dracula then finds Mina and tells her Jonathan was sent only as a ploy to bring her to town because she is in fact a descendent of his long lost lover. As he is about to bite Mina and keep her for his own, Van Helsing drives a stake through the Counts heart and puts an end to the murder and mayhem.
The film, although boring, has some worthwhile elements in it and if you are a Dracula or even an Argento devotee, it's worth a watch. For gore hounds, there are some very schlocky, yet fun kills and the gore is pure Argento with blood so saturated in color, it's almost glowing. It is by far not even close to being one of the best Dracula adaptations, and if it does nothing else, it should inspire you to read the novel which you'll feel you've gotten through quicker than you feel getting though this movie!

Rating from 0 to -10 :
- 5

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