99 min., 2000
Written by Joel Soisson/Patrick Lussier
Directed by Patrick Lussier
My rating: ★★★
All I wanna do is suck.
* * *
Yep, ladiez and gentz, it’s the month of October and we all know what that means. Time to kick the horror up a notch. But since Lady J doesn’t really like watching all that super gory stuff (with the exception of The Walking Dead,) I am doing this movie.
Having seen this movie a bunch of times, I enjoyed the fact that I was watching it for the eye candy factor and to enjoy semi hot ladies with fangs in film. I still will probably continue to watch the movie just for that purpose from time to time. Now though, I get to dissect this film and see if it truly holds up to the standards we have come to expect from vampire/ Dracula films. Perhaps I am not the best person for the job since I don’t by any means fancy myself an expert, but I’m the one reviewing it so boom! (And yes, that did, in fact, include a finger snap and a tiny bit of a neck roll.)
The opening credits of the film show a ship named the Demeter circa 1897 sailing from none other than Transylvania befalling a “mysterious” tragedy. All hands aboard have died in what appears to be a bloody and violent massacre. The scene is complete with the requisite rats, corpse tied to the wheel of the ship, and strange markings written in blood on the torn sails of the doomed ship. It is clear from footprints in the sand that someone survived the wreck and has landed in a place that now has a major problem to content with. Right off the bat, I have to call shenanigans. While I appreciate the aesthetic value of the establishing shots and how it sets the mood for the film, it becomes clear much later in the film that this Dracula does not hail from Transylvania at all. His story has nothing to do with that particular line of mythology and so those openings scenes are actually a waste of film. If I were to rewrite the opening credits perhaps a hint of his actual origins would be in there or better yet since he is so old, showing different places he has been in his long lifetime would be great as well. I just don’t like that you are all set up for one version of the story and then they pull a bait and switch.
Moving along, we see that in modern day London is where we are now and old man Van Helsing is discussing his latest antique acquisition with his young protege Simon. Van Helsing protests having anything to do with Dracula (though the name Van Helsing just screams all kinds of connections to the man himself) and claims that it was his grandfather was a simple country doctor who started a successful antiquities business. Once Van Helsing is alone we see him take out some leeches and inject himself with the blood from one them, something that causes his eyes to bleed red for a very short time. We aren’t meant to understand why he is doing this until later and perhaps its just as well because there is very little from this moment forward that makes for true suspense.
Several things are very obvious about the plot of this movie but I am getting a bit ahead of myself. The actual robbery is where we are in this story and it goes off without a hitch…. until… blah blah blah. The main gripe I have about this is the utter predictability of the whole setup. Everything went perfectly until it didn’t which is so textbook it is almost snoozeworthy. The whole robbery is so high tech from the high powered tazer to this weird glass globe thingy one of the robbers throw to knock out the guard to the fancy glass eye that passes the retinal scan to open the vault. Yawn… And then we find a dark dank cave filled with old religious artifacts and surprise surprise… skulls with the requisite fangs in alcoves along the wall. Yea, the jig is up. We already know what the terrible thing is in the coffin and the two robbers that die while they try to open it are simply extras being removed for ease of writing sake. The only cool thing about this scene was seeing the blood splatters get sucked into the top of coffin.
I am feeling the irresistible urge to skip over the superfluous details that you don’t need to know and summarize the rest of the story for you. The robbers take the coffin on a flight where of course Dracula wakes up and makes a meal of them. He lands in none other than New Orleans during Mardi Gras of course because what better place is there for Dracula and the inevitable body count he will leave to blend in with the rest of the normal mayhem of the holiday. He hunts munches a tv reporter (famously known as 7 of 9,) and hunts down the only thing that matters to him, the daughter of old man Van Helsing, Mary. I know you are thinking he is only doing that for revenge but it actually has to do with the fact that Van Helsing has been using Dracula’s blood through the leeches to stay alive long enough to figure out how to kill him once and for all. (Cue the aha! moment.) Because Dracula’s blood runs in Van Helsing’s veins it also runs in her’s which means she is part Dracula, “not bitten, but born.” Van Helsing and his faithful lackey Simon chase Dracula and Mary all the while trying to figure out how to destroy Dracula for good. Since they do this in a rather interesting manner, I’d rather not spoil it for you.
Overall I’d say there were a few interesting gems in this movie. They probably fall into that category for me because I am not a Dracula purist and the liberties they took with his story don’t really bother me. I’d say if you guys are looking for a “hot” Halloween movie, this one might qualify since there is a pretty steamy sex scene than ends on the ceiling that might get your girl going. There really isn’t much more going in the way of substance when it comes to this movie. If you remove the need to hold this movie to the standard of other Dracula movies I would give it a weak 3. But since it has to earn its place and falls short in some ways, I gave it 2 stars. I enjoyed it. Keep in mind that I didn’t have my brain fully engaged while watching this and maybe you should have a few shots before and during this movie just in case you are tempted to overthink things. Until next time…Have You Read...?