Note: Normally, I would avoid spoiling movies in my critiques, but in the case of Dario Argento’s Dracula, I’m going to spoil the hell out of it. Enjoy. Pink=sarcasm. Just so you know.
Released: 2012, 2013(USA)
Directed By: Dario Argento
Thomas Kretschmann: Dracula
Marta Gastini: Mina Harker
Asia Argento: Lucy Kisslinger
Unax Ugalde: Jonathan Harker
Rutger Hauer: Van Helsing
As film fanatics, we get to witness some of the greatest spectacles in movies: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Ben-Hur, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But some of the most spectacular movies happen to be total train-wrecks. You want to, but you just can’t look away. Movies like Ghost Rider, Remo Williams, or anything by Ed Wood qualify as complete disasters. There’s much to be said for Dario Argento’s career as a filmmaker. He’s directed top-notch thrillers like Susperia, Tenebre, and Deep Red. However, some of his more recent outings have been less than……solid, as it were. Mother Of Tears was an absolute disgrace. Argento’s worst effort by far, however, is his telling of Dracula. I’m a huge fan of the character. He’s been played by some of the greatest actors in film history: Bela Lugosi, Frank Langella, Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman. All of them did an amazing job. So how did this one get derailed?
Dario Argento’s Dracula begins as a young woman is having a night out with a local friend, and when she starts home, she is attacked by what seems to be an….owl. A horribly pixelated owl. Some time later, an accountant by the name of Jonathan Harker(Unax Ugalde) is hired by Dracula(Thomas Kretschmann). Dracula takes notice of Harker’s wife, Mina(Marta Gastini), seeing as how she resembles Dracula’s old flame. Harker disappears, people are attacked and mutilated and their only hope is Dr. Abraham Van Helsing(Rutger Haur). “Help us Van Helsing, you’re our only hope!” Oh, man. I’ve seen some pretty bad movies before, but this almost takes the cake. Where do I begin? Let’s start with the Italian cast. I’m not going to lambaste Italy’s actors, because I truly believe that Italy has some fantastic actors and filmmakers. But in this movie, they suck(get it?). Harker is supposed to be an Englishman, so why does he have an accent that isn’t British? I know Keanu Reeves sucked as Harker, but at least he attempted the accent. We even have a few really talented actors in this film, Thomas Kretschmann, Rutger Hauer, and Dario’s daughter, Asia. The acting is truly schizoid. It’s either completely over-the-top, or there’s no effort put into it at all. Kretschmann underplayed the character at times and completely went psycho at others. At least it looks like he tried. Rutger Hauer on the other hand, doesn’t seem like he wants to be there. His delivery is completely flat. It’s a shame, because Hauer gave us incredible performances in Ladyhawke, Blade Runner, and Hobo With a Shotgun. He’s an extraordinarily talented actor but he does worse than phone it in here. I think the character of Dracula would’ve been a little bit better if they didn’t dub over Kretschmann’s voice, which is very obvious. I honestly think that Hauer’s voice may have been dubbed over as well. I’m not sure about that, though.
Story-wise, it barely follows Bram Stoker’s story-line. It doesn’t even take place IN Transylvania. That opening sequence definitely wasn’t part of the original story. Neither was Jonathan Harker’s death. Yes, Harker dies in this movie. He gets turned into a vampire and he gets killed by Van Helsing. If Argento was trying to be shocking, he failed miserably. It was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen. Speaking of dumb, check this out: When Dracula abducts Mina, he turns into….rats? Nope. Werewolf? Wrong. Pinky Pie from My Little Pony? That would be hilarious, but no. He turns into a….bug. But he doesn’t turn into just ANY bug, but a praying mantis. I had no idea that Dracula was so talented he could transform into a horrendously CG-rendered….insect. Apparently Argento couldn’t afford to have Dracula turn into bats, rats, or mist either, so Dracula turned into a swarm of….more insects. He turns into bees. “NOT THE BEES!” The CG is spectacularly lame. I haven’t seen visual effects THIS bad since Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead. Actually, they’re worse, and that’s pretty bad when you can say that Uwe Boll’s movie has an advantage over one of Dario Argento’s.
Is there anything worthwhile about this movie? Uhhh…….the music when the credits roll is kinda neat. Would watching Van Helsing impale one of Dracula’s underlings on a poorly rendered spike count? No? How about when the credits roll? Yes? YES! I win! I win! What did I win? Certainly not the hour and a half that I lost watching this thing. But some of the visual effects were done practically, so there’s that. It doesn’t feel like a consolation prize. Seriously though, I understand that Dario Argento’s Dracula is a very low-budget movie, but everything STILL feels extremely cheap. From the sets to the costume design, it’s like Argento either didn’t bother putting any effort into this film or he was hamstrung by the film distributors. If anyone attempts to compare this movie with Francis Ford Coppola’s movie, they need to be slapped silly.
I honestly could not stop laughing after the film ended. This is a movie that deserved to be on Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you really must see this movie, here’s what you do: Get some friends and some stuff to get drunk on, and then pop the movie in. Otherwise, stay as far away from this stinker as you can. It’s really, really bad. It’s also boring, too. I’d rather watch Keanu Reeves play Jonathan Harker 24/7. This sucker deserves a stake through the heart. 2/10.