Monday, August 24, 2009

Oh, The Horror! #31: Bram Stoker's Dracula

Wow, did I have a good time watching this movie. This is a movie I've been wanting to see for years but never to any avail. Finally this past weekend I caught this with my brother and god-brother after watching Blacula also for the first time and felt this movie lived up to my expectations. Yet at the same time I didn't know much of what to expect with this movie. I just knew I'd be into it due to Gary Oldman playing Dracula and Anthony Hopkin as Van Helsing. Get Winona Ryder as Mina Murray to round off the ensemble cast and sexy Monica Bellucci as one of Dracula's three brides. The movie begins in the past during the Turkish invasion where Vlad The Impaler (Oldman) defeats the invasion to come back and find his wife (Winona Ryder) had committed suicide after false news of her husband's death. Vlad, feeling betrayed by God after fighting for his cause and finding out his wife's soul was damned to hell, curses Him and the church and swears the rise up with all the powers of darkness.

Centuries pass and Jonathan Harker, a law clerk played HORRIBLY by Keanu Reeves, travels to Transylvania to Count Dracula's castle to arrange the transfer of Carfax Abbey in London, Dracula's current real estate acquisition. During Harker's stay at the castle is where I really fall for the movie. Shadows of Dracula never match the vampire himself, often moving slowly or making a violent movement among many strange things. The visuals of this movie are astounding and really gets you on the edge. Just for the visuals alone you can't help but fall in love with the movie. As the stay progresses, Dracula sees a picture of Harker's beautiful wife, Mina Murray, who looks exactly like Dracula's deceased wife. As Dracula plots to go to London in search of Mina, Dracula's three wives feed on Harker and force him into intercourse, leaving him too weak to escape. The scenes with the vampire brides are also very beautifully done.

When Dracula arrives in London, he meets Mina, falls in love with her, and effectively seduces her. At the same time, he also entices Mina's best friend, Lucy, turning her into a vampire and leading the other characters of the movie to take notice of this strange occurrence going on and thus introducing us to Van Helsing, played bad-assly by Sir Anthony Hopkins. The scene where Lucy gets glamored by Dracula as she travels through a maze in search of him with her long red dress flowing in the windy night once again strikes you as amazing and just entices you to keep watching. The scene goes into a shocking climax when Lucy is found having sex with a humanoid wolf.

Now as I may praise this film, there are aspects of it where I felt could have improved. The plot seem to move very fast and there really was no moment to breathe. The movie progressed fast and got stranger and stranger, but not enough to have you fall off. In a way, I felt the movie could have been longer to help develop some more, but overall the movie itself was a good winner. The ensemble cast, besides Keanu Reeves in his worst performance EVER, were all great in their roles, Oldman definitely taking the title role and having you care for him despite being the villain and Sadie Frost playing the flirtatious and dangerous Lucy. I'd definitely recommend this movie to any horror fan with an eye for visual beauties. As stated before, the visuals alone are enough to watch and enjoy the movie. The make-up for the vampires, most particular Oldman as an old and pale and beautifully ugly creature is massively impressive. Overall this movie was very much like watching someone take full advantage of all the resources and money to make a childhood dream film.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.