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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Argento's DRACULA 3-D (IFC Midnight Blu-ray) - For the Third TIME!

Having reviewed Dracula 3-D twice before and still unable to watch it in its namesake third dimension, I actually am happy to say that I have found something to enjoy this time around. Perhaps it’s because I had the chance to enjoy the making of featurette that includes numerous interviews with cast and crew, but this film actually is a spirited, unique production. That isn’t to say that I think it’s exceptionally good or that Dario Argento is out of his twenty plus year slump, but I have found something more than just the strange insect scene to recommend. Curious? How could I have missed this twice before? Dracula 3-D is going to be available from IFC Midnight shortly. Read on if you haven’t picked up the Euro copy yet and are feeling limber.

Synopsis:

It's been 400 years since Count Dracula's (Thomas Kretschmann, Wanted, Valkyrie) beloved Countess Dolingen passed away, leaving the immortal bloodsucker forever abandoned. But when he discovers that local newlywed Mina Harker (Marta Gastini, The Rite) bears a striking resemblance to the Countess, his furious yearning is reawakened as he believes Mina to be a reincarnation of his beloved.

Luring her husband Jonathan away to his castle with the help of his minion (and Mina's best friend) Lucy (Asia Argento, xXx, Boarding Gate), Dracula embarks on a bloody quest to reunite with his long-lost love and live forever with her in hellish immortality. Only the arrival of vampire expert Abraham Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner, Hobo With a Shotgun) can put an end to the fiend's unholy plan.

Trailer:


With this release you get two different versions of the movie. The 3-D and the 2-D. I’ve watched the 2-D version and it looks gorgeous. I mean it’s a really good looking disc thought it is rather obvious just what was used for a pop-ups in the 2-D print. While earlier reviews were based on VOD screeners, this is based on the full HD digital representation and this makes a huge different. The cover art is classic Hammer and stunning and the title screen plays to that as well. The package also includes the Red Band trailer and the Kiss Me Dracula in 3D music video (I will leave this up to you my friends… it may not be your musical taste). Then there’s the Behind the Scenes special.

The Behind the Scenes feature has everyone except one key figure: Dario Argento. Sure, put your name all over the thing to sell it but when it comes to the special features you’re a phantom! The one man I’ve been looking to explain why he made this strange mess of a supposed vampire picture and he skirts the making of doc. Never mind that because the rest of his cast comes to the rescue and explains just why they chose to make sure an animal heavy production. I suppose in looking back at Argento’s previous work he’s always featured animals as key protagonists and the Drac mythology does lend itself to this addition, but I still feel it’s overused. At least I understand that it was some halfcocked writer trying to figure out how to put goddamn beetles in my vampire movie. Still… why insects? Why large insects? Why strange, poorly designed large insects? I feel better knowing that the reason was because of the Argento fixation with the buggers and not because they had previously created animal CG for another feature that just didn’t work. I’m a fan of the animal trilogy, and as a fan of Creepers I can totally understand how this mess fits together now. Thanks cast (sans Dario).

You can watch Dracula 3-D. It will make sense, and you probably won’t shut it off right away, but in the end you’ll be wondering where the subtle artistic horror maestro of yesteryear has gone. Rutger Hauer is no Peter Cushing nor is he the Hitcher or the beloved Hobo with the Shotgun. Thomas Kretschmann hardly looks like a vampire much less the Vampire King! He looks like one of Dracula’s victims.

And why was this viewing so much more enjoyable than the previous ones? The nudity. I was able to sit down and appreciate the naked bodies of some very attractive women in full HD and feel completely uninhibited by actually trying to expect anything out of viewing Dracula 3-D. No more pressure. I guess you could say that I wasn’t feeling the performance anxiety that often accompanies the review of a significantly promoted piece of Italian art. Question: did Asia have a butt double in the bathtub scene? Just curious. Clearly this is the juvenile inside me coming out, but if Argento didn’t want you staring at attractive women in their birthday suits, he wouldn’t have put them in the goddamn movie. I suppose that that’s the only draw for this horror fan means either I watched it hard up or that’s truly the only eye catching thing in the picture. The whole thing looks like a strange renaissance dining room set catalog with only a few tonal shifts to make the thing feel like it isn’t taking place on a piece of poster board in a science fare auditorium hall. There are boobs that are clearly works of art in this movie. They might inhibit you from watching the rest of the movie if you let them.

This isn’t a classic vampire tale, and maybe you’re ready to allow your disbelief to go on permanent hiatus, but there are moments in this film that prevent me from ever realizing it as a cohesive movie as opposed to an excuse to cross shifters with vamps in a Dracula space. Dracula is one of those sacred figures that doesn’t need a revamp (pun intended). You allow him to be Dracula and you make sure he’s dark enough or sexy enough or brooding enough to fill that characterization, but you do not need to reinvent Vlad for the sake of an artistic statement or to pull a classic fictional character to your will.

Fans of Argento’s later work will appreciate this (do I hear crickets or is that just another bug from the movie?). Also fans of attractive naked people. Also, fans of strange buggies and bad computer graphic shape shifting.



-Doc Terror

1 comment:

  1. Im so curious for this one, but it looks like yet another dud from Argento....he should stop already! He completely lost it.

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