DraculaFest: Dracula 2000

Oof. Well, I wanted a palate cleanser after a series of revisited classics, something new and shiny to comment on. Consider my palate expunged.

Fangs are so last century.

Fangs are so last century.

I knew better than to expect much from Dracula 2000 (Any movie that includes the year in the title can’t help but sound like a Ron Popeil infomercial.) It’s wretched even by lowered standards. And not in a vampy, campy or so-bad-it’s-good way. I’d have happily accepted a glob of queso fundido as an antidote to more serious versions. But hey, if you’re gonna go there, at least deliver the goods. Apparently the full title of this flick is Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000, but Craven is an Executive Producer–which I’m pretty sure means he accepted a check so they could prepend his name. I hope that’s the case, for it would be a shame if someone of his caliber had a hand in the actual production.

Director Patrick Lussier and writer Joel Soisson can’t decide what type of movie to make. For the first fifteen minutes it’s a heist/caper tale in which a team of… guys with guns and flak suits (don’t bother with more than that because they disappear shortly) raid a vault expecting a fat paycheck but only succeed in opening Dracula’s sealed coffin. Think Ocean’s 11 with oceans of blood. Oops. Then we shift into drama mode and discover that the vault’s owner is none other than Abraham Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer), still kicking vampire ass after a century or so of prolonging his life using Dracula’s blood. He has some tense moments with his protégé, Simon (Jonny Lee Miller), who’s here to draw brooding youngsters into the theater. They realize the freed Count is after Van Helsing’s daughter, Mary (Justine Waddell), because revenge. It’s unclear if Mary has been leading a prolonged life or or was conceived by a 100+ year old man. I know. Don’t think too hard on it. We’re only about halfway there.

Who didn't get a date to the Vampire Prom?

Who didn’t get a date to the Vampire Prom?

Then we shift into softcore Skinemax mode for some quasi-sexytime while Dracula seduces and puts the bite on some modern women–because what is Dracula without his trio of undead brides? Jennifer Esposito, Jeri Ryan and Vitamin C (?) chew the scenery, and a few random necks, while spouting sexist claptrap like, “You Brits like to sweet-talk and you Brits like to romance, but all I wanna do is suck!” As tensions rise cast members one-up each other by shouting groan-inducing puns and wannaba catchphrases: “Never fuck with an antiques dealer!” You see the jump scares coming from several hundred frames back (whenever the camera follows someone as they back up, of course) and the bon mots fall flat more often than not. A few of them are fun, like Dracula’s update of his own catchphrase: “I never drink… beer.” Too few and far between.

From there we head to New Orleans, for no reason other than to feature some gothic architecture and religious kitsch. In case the pounding, growling Nu-Metal soundtrack isn’t enough to chain the film to the late ’90s, Dracula goes looking for Mary in a Virgin Megastore. (Remember those?) Nathan Fillion does nothing whatsoever in a cameo as a priest(!). From here on out it’s pure action movie madness. Several wisecracking battles later, the film finally reveals its big twist: Dracula is really Judas Iscariot, who was refused death after betraying Jesus Christ! The movie makes sure you figure this out before the Big Reveal, as Mary tries to figure out why Drac hates all things biblical and especially silver (wink wink). Something something, Dracula/Judas bursts into flames and Mary keeps watch over his ashes until the inevitable sequel.

This is New Adult Dracula, featuring an unrecognizable, pre-300 Gerard Butler as the Prince of Darkness. He’s part Ramone and part romance cover, adequate for what’s required but never convincing as a 2,000-year-old tortured soul. He’s not frightening, but neither is the rest of the film. It’s a horror movie that seems to have misplaced the horror.

Turning Judas into a vampire could have worked. Christopher Plummer as an aging Van Helsing should have worked. And yet, here we are. A bad movie was made with King Leonidas, Baron von Trapp, Sherlock Holmes, Mal Reynolds and Seven of Nine–a statistical improbability. The humanity!

Dracula 2000 earns 0 out of 2 fangs out. Get this vampire some dentures! And let us never speak of this again.

Next time: The only direction is up!