Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Enrique Cerezo, Stefano Piani, Antonio Tentori
Starring: Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, Asia Argento, Unax Ugalde, Miriam Giovanelli, Rugar Hauer
Dario Argento’s Dracula (AKA Dracula 3D) was released in 2012, twenty years after Frances Ford Coppola’s pretty great interpretation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel, eighty-one years after Bella Lugosi gave the definitive performance as The Count, and ninety years after Nosferatu terrified the world with the original adaptation. Argento’s adaptation comes no where close to what came before it. It’s an embarrassment, not only to the Dracula story, but also to Argento himself, whose career started so high in the 70s, only to nosedive hard. This film is atrocious with next to no redeeming qualities.
The usual tropes of the Dracula (played here by Thomas Kretschmann) story are here. Jonathan Harker (Unax Uglalde) travels to Dracula’s castle, except this time he’s a librarian and not there to help Dracula purchase property in England. Harker finds himself in the middle of a gothic mystery and suspects that Dracula might not be human, before being attacked by vampires and left for dead. Van Helsing (Rutgar Hauer) helps Mina Harker (Marta Gastini) put a stop to the vampires, with some twists and turns along the way. There are many bits and pieces of the novel here, butchered and re-arranged to fit the story. Instead of travelling to the UK, Dracula stays within his castle, with the other characters coming to the local village. Gone is Whitby, and instead a shoddy CGI castle that looks like something out of a mid-90s hidden objects PC game that no one really enjoyed.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this film, if you’re ever unfortunate enough to watch it, is that the effects are incredibly bad. Worse than you can imagine for a film from the horror maestro Argento, that was premiered at Cannes Film Festival. They’re laughably bad, with some of the worst CGI to ever exist outside of the discount store’s bargain bin. Almost nothing looks real. At one point Dracula turns into a praying mantis, and it looks like something from a film at least twenty years earlier, at least. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had better effects over a decade before this film.
Maybe you could look beyond the effects, take them as charming, but then you’re left with some of the most horrendous acting imaginable. No one is putting any effort in here. The dialogue is forced and hammy, none of it feels real, and it commits the biggest sin of just being plain old boring. This is really just going through the motions and isn’t even entertaining while it’s doing so. The only standout thing about the film is the score from Argento regular Claudio Simonetti. It’s not his best score, but it’s a lot better than the film it’s accompanying.
It’s hard to imagine that Suspiria is written and directed by the same man. None of the visual flair or greatness is on show here. This is a tired and boring adaptation of a classic book, and should be avoided at all costs. If you’re an Argento die-hard fan then watch this at your own peril, for anyone else go and watch the Lugosi film, it’s closer to the book and holds up a lot better than this does, despite now being ninety-one years old.
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