Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dracula 2000 (2000)

Everyone has their guilty pleasures. For some, it's the "Underworld" series. For others, it's a slasher movie or zombie movie they know is bad, but they like it anyways. If you've read this blog, you know that I have my guilty pleasures. One of my guiltiest pleasures of the last decade? Patrick Lussier's "Dracula 2000." This is a movie that falls into the line of "hip and cleaver" horror movies that came after "Scream" and where unable to capture what made that movie so special. Yet, unlike the other wannabes, this is actually a fun time.

Dracula also seems to be repelled by buttoning his shirt up

One night, a gang of thieves (Omar Epps, Sean Patrick Thomas, Danny Matherson and Jennifer Esposito) break into a manor that they think contains all kinds of riches. What they end up getting in return is something worse than that in Dracula (Gerard Butler), who proceeds to turn all of them into vampires. Now, Abraham Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) and his assistant Simon Sheppard (Johnny Lee Miller) must find a way to stop the ancient vampire and his growing army of the undead (which also includes Jerri Ryan and pop singer Vitamin C.)
 
In the process, they soon find themselves traveling to New Orleans, where Dracula is located, and has his eyes set on Virgin Megastore clerk Mary (Justine Waddell), who has some sort of connection to both Dracula and Van Helsing in a twist you see coming a mile away. You do however, get a twist about Dracula you don't see coming, which is actually a good one to boot. In the process, I try to figure out if Virgin Megastores still exist.*
 
 The vampire should get that checked out.

From the get go, I can tell you that this is hardly a great movie. The plot occasionally feels convoluted. Like many horror movies from this time, it hasn't aged too well and sometimes feels like it's trying to hard to be "hip" (Dracula watching a Monster Magnet video and liking what he sees-I doubt he's be a fan if he actually existed.) in a way that just feels awkward. All of that being said, this is still a fun time that doesn't take itself too seriously, but unlike something like "Urban Legend", actually has some nice one liners and genuine laughs along the way. It also doesn't overstay its welcome and moves at a pretty brisk pace, and thankfully doesn't have too much fat in the story.

The movie is also surprisingly well directed for a major studio genre movie from this period. Lussier manages to get away with some arresting visuals (the highlight involves Mary being stalked by Dracula's brides in a blood red room with red window drapery) and fun action scenes that make up for the lack of Gothic atmosphere. In doing that, he goes for a more lighthearted one that puts more emphasis on actions scenes and one liners. Thankfully, the cast is game (save for Waddell, whose performance is a bit awkward) and clearly having a lot of fun with the material on hand. Butler in particular seems to be having a good time, clearly relishing the chance to play an all around evil villain with dark sexuality (thankfully not going the route of "tormented romantic figure") and menace. Finally, I mentioned that there was a twist so

*spoiler*
It turns out that Dracula is actually Judas Iscariot. Granted, they could have went further with this angle, but it's actually a surprisingly original take on the origin story of the legendary vampire
 
*end spoiler*

Just another Mardi Gras. Only with less women flashing their breasts for beads.

At the end of the day, I can't really say that I recommend "Dracula 2000." It's not what anyone would call a classic in the genre. However, I find it to be a satisfactory bit of cinematic junk food that doesn't do anything outstanding, but still manages to work better than it has any right to. You can have your "Underworld" movies. I'll take this instead.

Rating: 6.5/10

*I just looked at Wikipedia-yep, they still exist.

Anyways, since this came out in 2000, it has soundtrack made up of rock songs. The breakdown: Slayer and Pantera get away with some decent tunes, System of a Down does a nice cover of Berlin's "Metro", Monster Magnet has a fun, organ driven rocker in "Heads Explode", and the Static X song is shockingly tolerable. The rest is just a bunch of lousy Nu Metal that serves as a painful reminder of what was popular back then.

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