Going to have a bit of a vampire week here at Cinemageddon since The Strain will be airing it’s season finale on Sunday. In a semi celebration of all the nibbling blood lovers we will review as many films as possible. We are starting today with Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ directed by the legend Francis Ford Coppola. Let’s get into the meat and potatoes.
The story opens with Vlad Dracula fighting the Turks and winning, sadly the news of victory has not reached home and Vlad’s wife commits suicide after false news of his death. Grief of his loss causes Dracula to renounce God, stab a cross and drink the mystery juice that drips down his sword (Sexy?). Many years later a lawyer named Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) travels to Transylvania to meet with Count Dracula (Gary Oldman) attempting to finalise an estate sale. Count Dracula takes interest in young Harker after seeing a picture of his fiance and decides to travels back to London to meet the Harpers, leaving Jonathan trapped in the castle. The Harpers take to Dracula even accepting the strange customs of the visitor but soon they start to feel something is off. When one of the Harper family member falls victim to a mysterious illness they become suspicious of the Count. Are there darker forces at work? What is up with Dracula hair? Why are we still asking questions about a film that we should all have seen?
This film is incredibly lavish, everything is dripping with detail and no expense is spared. Francis Ford Coppola shoots everything as if he had dreamed of directing this story, no minute is wasted and Dracula is treated as the force of nature his powers make him. The quality is not just in the sets and cinematography but also in the cast, Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, Gary Oldman as Dracula, Billy Campbell as Quincey Morris and Keanu Reeves trying his hardest to play Jonathan Harker. Everyone brings their A game to each scene and despite some shoddy accents this is a great production of the original novel.
The key point in this whole thing though is how are the vampires? Dracula is truly powerful, equalled by none and able to influence the cattle of man without breaking a sweat. Sunlight is still a weakness along with religious iconography but you’d be hard pressed to harness the awesome power of a solar body back then. His powers are standard vampire stuff: Super strength, communing with the creatures of the night, hypnosis and shapeshifting. The victims who fall under his curse are mindless horny women and mad people who feel the need to eat small animals for sustenance. Despite his awesome power we have a treatment of the monster that is tinged with sadness and loss, everything was taken from him so he blamed the only person he could in the case of suicide; God.
This film feels very complete but at times it does seem to drift into the more erotic territory but who cares. I give this a Mad Mel Gibson. Great film but some small elements could do with refining.