Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bad Dracula

Back in May, in the post Good Dracula, I wrote about why I don't like most Dracula movies. Dracula 2000 (2000) is a perfect example. This movie stars Gerard Butler (in pre-300 days) as the Count, with Christopher Plummer as his nemesis Van Helsing, and has the novelty of transporting the originally Victorian Dracula story to the present (not really a novelty; Dracula A.D. 1972 did the same thing nearly 30 years earlier). The result is wretchedness.

There are so many bad things about this movie, I am going to focus only on a couple that are typical of bad Dracula movies. The main one is a stupid Dracula. According to this movie, Dracula is actually Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, who was cursed for his misdeed by being turned into a vampire and who has been wandering the earth ever since. There are several oddities about this claim, not least that Dracula is revealed to be Jewish, a side of him never hitherto unveiled. But the really annoying thing is the same thing that has plagued all Dracula movies: the insistence that Dracula is centuries old, and even (in Dracula 2000) millennia old. How can this be when Dracula is so manifestly inept at surviving the ninety minutes or two hours of a typical Dracula movie's running time? In Dracula 2000, this king of the vampires no sooner is restored to life than he calls attention to himself with a blatant trail of corpses-turned-vampires and mad overacting, leading him to be pursued and easily dispatched in a rooftop climax.

Somebody should make a Dracula movie in which Dracula is pursued by generations of hunters over centuries, and the Count is so wily, so steeped in the wisdom of his many years experience, that he continually escapes them, and in the end it is uncertain whether he will ever be caught. Sort of like Dracula meets Zodiac. Honestly, if the Zodiac killer could elude capture for so long, couldn't Dracula?

Another major flaw of Dracula 2000 is the boringness of the normal characters. With the exception of Van Helsing, who at least has some age to him and is played by Plummer, the normals are a bland collection of young faces, none of them exciting, idiosyncratic, or deserving of sympathy. It is nice to see Jeri Ryan away from her Star Trek franchise duties, but the movie does nothing with her except make her another bride of Dracula. All this is typical of bad Dracula movies: normals who are boring and would make you root for Dracula if he weren't so stupid.

Some of Dracula 2000's inanities are peculiar to it, such as setting most of the action in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. New Orleans, OK, but it would seem from the movies that the only day that ever transpires in New Orleans is Mardi Gras. Wouldn't it make just as much sense for Dracula to turn up in New Orleans a week or two, or even a month or two, after Mardi Gras? Whatever the cause, Dracula 2000 ends up in a long line of bad Dracula movies.

George Ochoa
Deformed and Destructive Beings: The Purpose of Horror Films

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