Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Movie Reviews: Dracula 1992

For my October Reviews I am continuing my Dracula reviews.

Dracula (1992)
Also know as "Bram Stoker's Dracula".
Depending on your point of view this is either the best cinematic Dracula, or the worst. But before that lets take the movie at face value.

What I like the most of about this one is it is beyond a doubt one of the better cinematic adaptations of Stoker's book.  All the characters are here, including the oft missed Quincey Morris and Arthur Holmwood.  There are tons of little details that I love.  Dracula's shadow in the early scenes at Castle Dracula are great and invoke the classic Nosferatu.  The newspapers, Draucla's map of London, even a sandwich board advertising the Lyceum Theater are nice touches.  The sets are masterful, this may be the best Castle Dracula since Lugosi.  Of course watch for Dracula's shadow in his castle.  Nosferatu anyone?  The three brides, always hinted at, are revealed in their full gory glory here.  This might also be one of the first film roles for Monica Bellucci. The use of real Romanian is a nice treat, even if it isn't perfect (it's modern Romanian through out, even when medieval Romanian should have been used).

Though the movie is not without some serious problems.  The whole Mina and Dracula love affair thing is just another example of the Dracula/Vampire fetish. And don't get me started on the whole absinthe scene.  As much as I like Wynnona Ryder I felt her Mina was very flat.  Yes, and there is Keeanu Reeves as Harker, but I like Reeves and didn't mind this, though I kept thinking he was going to say "No way Van Helsing!" ala Ted.  Sadie Frost was a bit overtly sexual as Lucy, but I preferred her performance over that of Jan Francis' portrayal of the similar character in the 1979 film.

We have a little joke among my friends, if you can't figure out an actor to play a roll, get Gary Oldman, he can do anything.  He is convincing as Dracula, both old and young, the suave seducer and terrible monster.  But sometimes here he is a bit over the top.

This movie, more so than even the Jack Palance one, makes the connection between Dracula, the vampire, and Dracula aka Vlad the Impaler more explicit.  It also bridges that important gap of how one man became the monster.  At the time of the movie I liked that, but after just re-watching I am less convinced.  Oh it still is a good bit of storytelling, but it is another factor of the whole Dracula loves Mina sub-plot that gets on my nerves.

In terms of the other characters, well they are all there. Arthur Holmwood, Quincy Morris, Dr. Seward are all great in their respective points in the story played very well by Cary Elwes, Bill Campbell and Richard E. Grant respectively.  Anthony Hopkins plays a much crazier Van Helsing than those before him.  Taking that "we are all God's madmen" line a little too literal I think. Hopkins is great of course, he is Sir-Anthony-fucking-Hopkins after all, but some things about his portrayal bugged me.  The whole "the foe I have been searching for all my life" thing bugged me too.  Was this a metaphorical foe as in "all evil" or "Dracula" in particular?  I got the impression that they meant Dracula himself.

I do have this copy of the script that is full of production notes, stills from the movie, images from the various Dracula publications over the years and Victorian era photos/pictures.   It is sitting in-between my copy of Ghosts of Albion and Victoriana on my "Horror RPG" shelf.

The next full outing of Dracula will have to do better than this one in order to be remembered. And we are about due for one.

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