Blame Bram Stoker, if you think Dracula sucks.
But point the finger at Hollywood for never, never, never giving up on Stoker’s novel creation.
In movieland, Stoker’s vampire king has been Bela Lugosi-ed, Christopher Lee-ed and Frank Langella-ed.
Dracula’s had a daughter and a dog, and gone up against Frankenstein and Abbott and Costello.
The count of Transylvania has even bit into some bloody good comedy with George Hamilton leering through fangs as though he were born to them, although the Hamilton tan flies in the face of Dracula’s anti-sunbathing crusade.
The latest redo is Dracula 2000, (filmed in Toronto and New Orleans). It’s a grungy metal version of the yarn, so hip and happening, it grooves.
The sardonically winking terror trip also provides a learning lesson in Dracula’s origins, underscoring the Prince Of Darkness’ big hate for all things religious, ie: cross, church, bible and silver bullets.
The deal here is that Dracula, defined by the dashing dude of the month, Gerard Butler, is released from his London coffin by some foolish thieves.
Unleashed on the world again, Dracula ends up in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, where he can presumably fit in — y’know, drink at night and sleep during the day.
Count D, tracking down a blood relative, has more on his fiendish mind than that, however. Yikes.
Freaky, right? Well not quite. More like sort of scary and almost spoofy in the tradition of Wes Craven’s Scream trilogy, which makes sense. Director Patrick Lussier was Craven’s film editor for the two-too-many trilogy.
Besides the tone, substance is adhered to in a Scream kind of way. Slashing and gashing is interrupted by scripted giggles and actress jiggles.
On the jiggle front, there are the vampire-ettes made up of Vitamin C (rapper), Jennifer Esposito (Spin City’s Stacey) and Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager’s Seven of Nine).
The stud brigade’s brought to us by the heroic Dracula challenger (Trainspotting’s Jonny Lee Miller), the doofus comic relief (Danny Masterson from That ’70s Show), and the thief turned bloodsucking cohort (Omar Epps, the Scream 2 grad).
Then there is the aforementioned Butler, best known for, well, Dracula 2000. Justin Waddell plays the daughter of Dracula hunter Van Helsing.
And Van Helsing is portrayed by Christopher Plummer, who chews up some scenery with a smile, probably because he can’t believe he’s getting a hefty paycheque for these effortless activities. Plummer, in fact, gives the proceedings more credibility than they deserve.
What else is incredible? Lussier finished filming some re-shoots in Toronto just three weeks ago.
It came that close to being Dracula 2001: A Bloodsport Odyssey.
Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Director: Patrick Lussier
Stars: Christopher Plummer Gerard Butler
— BOB THOMPSON, SUN
Sun Rating: 3 out of 5
Copyright 2000 Sun Media Corporation