February 12, 2014

Movie Review: Dario Argento's Dracula

There are some classic monsters and characters that always seem to be remade and reinterpreted every so often. The classic Universal monsters are among the most popular, with countless Dracula and Frankenstein tales being told over the years. It is almost like any horror director feels the need to prove themselves with their interpretations and ideas on the classics. I have absolutely no problem with this. Good movies, good ideas, good interpretations, these things will always rise to the top. Unfortunately, sometimes there are wrong steps taken, things just do not come together in the execution. This is an example of that. Dario Argento's Dracula (released theatrically in 3D) just does not work. Period.

Argento has made some absolute classics in his day, and I am sad to admit that I have not seen nearly enough of them. Still, even with the gaping holes I have in seeing his films, having seen The Bird with Crystal Plumage, Suspiria, and Opera, it is hard to deny what he is able to do with a camera. I would have to guess his decline in recent years is due to age, but then I see what Martin Scorsese is able to do. Although, it would seem he is the exception rather than the rule, I mean, John Carpenter has not exactly been on his game (The Ward), or even visible of late. Anyway, with movies like Giallo and Dario Argento's Dracula (yes, that was the title card) it is clear that the great Dario Argento is in decline. I still kind of want to see Mother of Tears.

This Dracula commits one of the worst cinematic sins imaginable, it is boring. At no time is this movie involving, scary, original, or fresh, it isn't even interesting. For a director who made such gorgeous looking films in the past, this is just absolutely amateurish. Everything seems to be shot from the same distance, the colors are bland, and there is nothing to really look at. Well, I take that back, the one thing that Argento seems interested in is baring the breasts of the female characters. This includes his daughter, Asia, which he has done before and never doesn't feel a little creepy (still, Asia is quite stunning).

The story is changed a bit, the action is moved entirely to Transylvania, er, Passborg. Also, Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) is not in real estate, but into books and is there to help Dracula (the passionless Thomas Kretcshmann) get his books in order. He seems happy enough to remain in Passborg, feeding on the ladies and controlling all the men. Lucy (Asia Argento) is there teaching piano to what seems like a single student. Later on Mina (Marta Gastini) shows up wondering where Jonathan is. It is Mina who realizes things are not right and calls in Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer) to do battle with our vampire count.

The whole thing is so ho hum, it sits there, lifeless. I sat there wondering why I continued to watch. It did not take long to realize it was not going to get any better, but there I sat. I watched the bad acting, the poor narrative flow of scenes, the cheap looking sets, the bad CG (the mantis? Really?). There was nothing new to offer here, I have to wonder what his motivation was for tackling such a project. You would think that with a source like Dracula, the great Dario Argento would have something to show for it. No. It just flops around in its death throes, waiting for the end to come and put it out of its misery.

I don't know what else to say, aside from the nudity, there is no reason to ever press play on this thing. I have no desire to ever want to watch it again. In fact, it makes me want to go back and fill in the holes of my Argento experience. If you know what I haven't seen, you probably wouldn't want to talk to me anymore. If you only get one takeaway from this, please let be to not let this be your introduction to Argento. The man has made some amazing films and has influenced countless others. It is sad to see something like this. It actually makes me want to watch Giallo again...

Not Recommended.

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