Some sexy vampires in Dracula 2000.
Without doing any actual research, I'm going to guess that Count Dracula appears in more movies than any other character. If he's not the first on that list, he is at least in the top five. That being the case, if you are going to use him in a movie, you'd better have some original or unusual angle that will make him stand out from all the Dracula movies that came before yours. Dracula 2000 fails to do this and will be consigned to the bin with all the other Dracula rejects.
The movie starts with a scene taken from the original Bram Stoker novel. The Demeter, a German ship carrying Dracula's coffin, crashes on the shores of England. The crew is all dead and the pilot is strapped to the wheel, ropes holding his corpse to his post. The footprints of a wolf that gradually turn into those of a man, lead from the ship. A cloaked figure is then shown wandering the streets of London. That's the one and only scene that is taken from the source material and is the only one that contains any kind of sinister atmosphere.
The movie then flashes forward to the present day where a group of thieves are breaking into an antique shop owned by a Dr. Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer). What they think is a coffin full of jewels, is of course, everybody's favorite count. Since the original novel ends with the death of Dracula, it is never explored where the book and the movie diverge. A later flashback shows that the original Van Helsing captured and imprisoned Dracula in the 1800s. Since the book is mentioned in the movie, I suppose we can assume that Stoker took artistic liberties with the actual events when he wrote it.
The thieves take the coffin onboard an airplane bound for Jamaica, still unaware of its actual contents. They finally open it, of course, and Dracula attacks them all, of course. The plane then crashes near New Orleans. Why New Orleans? Maybe Dracula read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles on the plane and figured it would be a cool place to hang out for a while. Since any mention of Vampires in New Orleans is bound to invite comparison to Anne Rice, why even bother to set a Vampire movie there at all? She has that particular city staked out, and I say leave it to her.
The rest of the movie pretty much follows the standard plot of every other vampire movie, but in case you still want to see it, I won't give any other details away. Although as you watch this movie, you will already feel as if you've seen it, since it is loaded with so many horror movie clichés that you end up with a been there, done that, kind of feeling anyway.
There is little or no suspense throughout the course of the film. No scenes that make you jump or put you on the edge of your seat. It is almost completely free of gore and sex, with only a quick glimpse of cleavage and neck wounds.
Although the movie does try to explain Dracula's origins in an interesting way, it does little to advance the plot or really matter to anyone in any way.
With so many other movies opening this holiday season, don't waste your time with this one.
Jeri Ryan in Dracula 2000.
Dracula 2000 (that title sucks) attempts to put a new spin on an old tale. In essence it copies the book. It just adds a new origin. However, Dracula has always been a fascinating villain, and this version is really no worse off than the rest.
In Stoker's book, Dracula goes to England on a boat whose crew he eats. In this movie it is a plane to New Orleans. In the book he pursues a girl named Mina whose best friend is Lucy. Here it is Mary and Lucy. In the book he has three vampire 'wives'. They are also here.
The one new angle this movie has is that they explain Dracula's disgust and fear of religion and the cross. According to this movie, Dracula was Judas who betrayed Christ and thus caused the crucifixion. If only they had good psycho therapy 2000 years ago Dracula would have had fewer issues.
Christopher Plummer is good as Van Helsing. Another role like this and we can call him the Peter Cushing of his era. Who is not good is the actor who played Dracula. His acting is adequate but he has no presence. Dracula is a larger than life character and this actor just does not have it. Granted it doesn't help that he has very limited lines. The actor who played Van Helsing's assistant, Simon, had more charisma, or maybe it was just that it is so rare to see a British actor kick ass, that he stood out.
A decent horror movie that could have definitely used a more charismatic star.
Note to Scott's mention of no nudity. There was a tit shot in a crowd scene on Bourbon St. A girl on a balcony lifts her shirt up for the onlookers below.
Omar Epps and Jonny Lee Miller in Dracula 2000.
As anyone who's familiar with this site knows I see far fewer new movies than either of my brothers. Therefore it isn't unusual for me to review a movie many years after they have both chimed in on it. It can be interesting seeing what the intervening years have done for these movies. Sometimes, as is the case here, unknown actor(s) have since become famous. Eric didn't think Gerard Butler had enough charisma as Dracula but he has since become a successful leading man. It is also worth noting that Christopher Plummer was 70 in 2000 and 13 years later he's still very busy making movies.
One thing that makes this movie seem better now than it probably did when it first came out is the fact that the Twilight movies happened. Unlike that franchises neutered and weirdly romantic creatures these vampires are good old fashioned blood suckers. Apart from one ridiculous love-making on the ceiling scene, there is no romance to speak of and, for the most part, they abide by the usual rules of the character's folklore: he casts no reflection, cannot bear sunlight, can be killed with a stake through the heart etc.
The incorporation of a new origin adds a religious angle to the story and explains Dracula's aversion to all Christian symbols. Judas Iscariot is an inspired choice considering his infamous history. He was, of course, one of Christ's disciples. He betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and according to scripture later committed suicide. 1300 years later in the celebrated epic poem Dante's Inferno Judas is, along with Brutus and Cassius, condemned to the 9th and final circle of Hell where Satan himself resides.
This rather literary idea is offset by a campy sense of humor. In one scene a female vampire says to the English Simon, “You Brits like to sweet-talk and you Brits like to romance, and all I wanna do is suck.” When Simon advances on Dracula brandishing a bible, Dracula says dismissively, “Propaganda.” They also spoof the classic 1931 Bela Lugosi picture. Instead of wine, this Dracula says he never drinks... coffee. On a trivia note, I can only assume the filmmakers were fans of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. In a scene at a cemetery Mary stands in front of a tomb clearly marked Spencer Hepburn.
This picture is fast-paced and entertaining in a B-Movie way. I was never bored watching it. As Scott said, Count Dracula (along with Tarzan, Robin Hood, Zorro and Sherlock Holmes) is one of the most frequently revived characters in the history of film. Dracula 2000 is neither the best nor the worst of his movies.
Photos © Copyright Dimension Films (2000)