Friday, 31 October 2014

31 Days of Horror: Dracula 3D (2012)

Dario Argento's Dracula 3D (2012)
Director: Dario Argento
Starring: Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini and Asia Argento
Running Time: 110 min

 During the 70's and 80's Dario Argento could do no wrong.  Directing chilling horror classics like "Deep Red", "Suspiria" and "Phenomena" but after the "Stendhal Syndrome" in the 90's, his work seemed to take a strange twist and became really spotty at best.  I dug his "Masters of Horror" work and "Mother of Tears" was passable but then he returned with "Giallo", I found he was back to schlock.  I'm hoping that the re-imagining of this classic will be the kicks start of another great series films by this impressive director.

  After sneaking away and having sex with a married man, voluptuous peasant girl, Tania walks back home through the forest on a dark and scary night.  She is then attacked by a rather large owl, that happens to be Dracula and he drains her of her life in the usual fashion.
  The next day, Jonathan Harker arrives in Passo Borgo and is met by his friend, Lucy.  She asks if his wife and her bestie Mina will be arriving soon and Harker lets her know that she will be here in a few days.  Harker thanks Lucy and lets her know that he appreciates her getting him the librarian job with Count Dracula.  Lucy tells him that it's no problem, anything to bring him and Mina closer to her.
  That night, in the cemetery while the married man from earlier, some guy and a constable are burying Tania, a thuggish simpleton name Renfield attacks them.  Tearing some guy's ear off and then killing the married man with a shovel, Renfield is finally taken down by the constable and brought to jail but the body of Tania has disappeared.
  The next morning, Harker goes to the castle where he meets Tania, who is a voluptuous vampire now and his new master, um boss Count Dracula.  He is shown around the castle and the amazing library where he will be working.  Harker shows the Count a picture of Mina and tells him all about her, including that she should be arriving in town soon.  The Count is taken by the picture and tells Harker that he can't wait to meet her.  Eventually,  Dracula takes out Harker and turns him into a vampire as well.
  Shortly after this,  Mina arrives and spends a lot of time with Lucy, instead of going to visit her husband.  When she finally does go to Dracula's castle she runs into a group of the happiest wolves ever and they are thwarted by another angry wolf.  Mini fear gates the better of her and she passes out.  When she wakes up, she is in Dracula's castle and he is tending to her.  She asks to see her husband, but he is on, trip, and won't be back... for a couple of days.  Anyway they have a nice visit and in the morning, Dracula watches her off safely for the door of his castle as she heads home.
  Meanwhile, Lucy has become in effected with something and eventually dies.  Finally, Van Helsing shows up and fills Mina on what the deal is with Dracula and how he killed her best friend, probably her husband and has turned them into vampires.  Can the two of them stop this bloodsucker from destroying this small town or is it to late and has Dracula sunk his fangs in to far to be stopped?

  This had to be one of the most dullest Dracula films I have ever seen.  It was so boring and it took so long to get where it was going.  I feel bad for Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist, Hostel Part III) because he has to be the most lackluster Dracula ever!  Instead of the horrific Nosfertau that was given to us by Murnau and Herzog, or the charming and seductive Dracula of Browning or even the strange and over the top vamp, whose shadows were just as fun to watch by Coppola, we get this guy in a jacket and with a low key attitude.  Yeah, I'm Dracula, yep. I want a memorable Dracula, not the hipster everyman Dracula.  I want a cape wearing, girl charming, neck biter that is scary as hell.
  Also, this story that has been done dozens upon dozens of times, why is it all the over the place?  It's frustrating to watch because none of the characters or there stories seem to be connecting with one another.  Does Renfield work for Dracula or is he in love with Tania, or both?  Why doesn't Mina want to see her husband after so much time has past?  When did Lucy get bitten and how long has she been under Dracula's spell?  Is Mina mesmerized by Dracula and why does she feel so much sympathy for him after he just killed her best friend and husband!?!?  The characters just seem so disjointed and in every other Dracula movie, people come together to stop this evil menace but in this story, everybody just splinters apart.  It really makes you not care about these people and you just wish they would all die, so you can watch something else.

  I watched this in 3D and it was the worst and most pointless use of this effect that I've come across.  Most 3D used for depth enhancement that I've watched really tries to blend the effect to make 3D seamless in the scenes.  Not here.  A lot of scenes look like pages from a pop-up book and it just pulls you out of the movie.  I found it so intrusive and distracting that it just added to my frustration from the already horrible experience with of this film.
  Also, there is a surprisingly large body count and it really isn't as impressive as I was hoping.  These bloody scenes were mostly done using CGI and most of it looks really cheap.  The vampires turn to electronic dust and killings have painted in blood.  There are some scenes that are familiar to some of Argento's older films, for instance, there is scene when a window bursts open and the thousands of flies buzz in, which of course reminded me of Phenomena.  Unfortunately, with all the computer wizardary in this scene just didn't have that same impact as the older one with the practical effects.

  I think the only good thing about the film was Rutger Hauer (The Hitcher, Flesh+Blood), not because his acting ability swept all the shitty parts of this movie under the rug but to watch him try and interpret the lines and get them out with a straight face, was incredible.  The Van Helsing character reminded me more of the Hobo that he played in "Hobo With A Shotgun" than of Van Helsing's in the past.  He seemed as confused as I was, about what he should and how to go about it.
  Near the end, there are some unintentional funny bits, like Dracula turning into a terrible CGI praying mantis and they way that Dracula finally meets his demise is rather ludicrous but it had me in stitches.

  I can see this film on future lists of terrible movie to watch with the likes of "The Killer Shrews", "Robot Monster" and any/all of the Reb Brown films but for me, right now, it's disappointing for me.  This is a terrible interpretation of Bram Stoker's classic by one of my favourite horror directors, the acting is stilted, and the effects are far below par.  So, if you're really brave and dig watching bad movies then you may dig this, otherwise stay clear and keep this film experience locked in the cellar.


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