Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dracula 2000

The best thing about Dracula 2000 is the stacked cast: Gerard Butler (300, Tomb Raider), Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music), Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Slither, Desperate Housewives), Omar Epps (House, M.D.), Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone), Jennifer Esposito (Samantha Who?, Crash), Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager, Shark, Boston Public) and Danny Masterson (That 70s Show) are the ones off the top of my head. Now, by "stacked" I mean "better than average cast for the cheesy schlockfest that is this movie." They are all very pretty to look at, and they do the best they can with what they've been given, but it was a losing battle from the get-go.

Here's the plot: A group of burglars inadvertently steal Dracula's coffin from a well-guarded bunker under Matthew Von Helsing's (Plummer) high-falutin' antique store. To make matters worse, they set him free and he makes a bee-line for New Orleans where Von Helsing's daughter, Mary, is living. Von Helsing and his assistant Simon (Miller) attempt a rescue and Von Helsing is killed by Dracula's three vampire brides (two of whom are Ryan and Esposito, chewing as much scenery as they can). Mary and Dracula have this mystico-religious connection and she gets vamped slightly (is that even possible, like being a little bit pregnant?), but with Simon's help manages to vanquish the unkillable Dracula and put him away for safe-keeping again. Yeah, I know, it's pretty thin. Poor little Nathan Fillion gets to play this sad sack of a priest who encourages Mary to fight for her soul. Yawn.

The interesting thing about Dracula 2000 is the premise it gives about Dracula's powers. Here, all the things that will kill or wound a vampire won't get the job done on him - stake through the heart, holy water, sunlight, beheading (although it's not clear whether anyone has attempted to behead him) - it just pisses him off. He also gets right annoyed over silver (at first I thought a werewolfy crossover but no) and religious artifacts. You see, in the movie the reason Dracula is immortal is because he's actually Judas Iscariot. He doesn't like Christian stuff because it reminds him of Jesus; he doesn't like silver because it reminds him of his betrayal; and he is unkillable because when he hung himself for his sins, the rope broke right as he died and something (God, the Devil, who knows) resurrected him to undeadness as punishment. He now lives forever, trying to remake the world into his own undead image. Well, okay, that's original enough that I'll go along with it for entertainment's sake, but then they don't explain how he got the fangs and the penchant for sucking folks' blood. As far as I know, not even Jesus Christ Superstar has Judas doing that.

The movie is rated R for violence/gore, language and sex. I watched it on AMC last night so the language was all dubbed over; the sex was no more scandalous than anything on Grey's Anatomy; and the violence/gore was pretty minimal. I'll grant you that it was edited for television but still - I can't imagine that it was all that scary.

Also, the blatant product placement for Virgin Megastores was so extremely irritating. Mary and her roommate both work there and we got to see them several times at work, wearing their little work t-shirts, the exterior Mardi Gras crowd shots usually included a glimpse of the store sign and Simon has a big ol' fistfight with a vampire in front of a frickin' store van. I know Wes Craven isn't known for subtlety, but jeesh.

All in all, this - in its uncut form on DVD - would be a perfectly fine movie for a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon: silly, harmless and horror-light. Oh, I nearly forgot: the other best thing about Dracula 2000 is Gerard Butler's hair - it's got more charisma than Dracula does himself.

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