Sunday, October 3, 2010

Halloween Challenge #3

Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of those big star-studded '90s affairs that for once pays off. Gary Oldham plays the Count, and Coppola uses his "man of many faces" quality to great effect. Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, and my favorite, Tom Waits as Renfield.

One of my favorite scenes is when Dracula and Harker talk for the first time. Dracula's shadow is always out of sync with Oldham, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. Secondly, I think they do a great job with Renfield. Waits plays his introduction very close to the book, and it is one of the better uses of Renfield I have seen. He's an important character in Stoker's book, but typically ignored in films. The similarly overlooke Doctor Seward, here played by Richard E. Grant, gets some nice screen time. I forget if Seward was an opium addict in the book, but it is highly probably that a doctor of that age would be.

Verdict: Call me a philistine, but it is one of my favorite Dracula films.

7 comments:

joe bloke said...

oh, Darius, how I wanted to like this film when it came out! but I'm afraid it just left me with a nasty taste in my mouth. I know plenty of people who thought it was a cracker, but, to me, it - along with The Mummy - just epitomized almost everything that I hate about the modern horror cinema-going experience. garish, full of it's own importance, excessive, and badly acted ( the exception being Gary Oldman, who couldn't act badly even if his life depended on it ). add to that the fact that I have never regarded Dracula as a "tragic" character, but rather the very essence of cold-blooded savagery and evil, and, all in all, I got a film that I only sat through all the way because the wife fancied Richard E. Grant ( Doctor Seward, who WASN'T an opium addict in the back, as best as I can recall - haven't read it in a good twenty odd years now ).

dfordoom said...

As much as I detest modern horror movies I enjoyed Coppola's Dracula. There's some atrocious acting, but I quite like the whole tragic vampire "love never dies" thing. Yes it's been overdone recently, but personally I find simplistic evil monster vampires boring.

The interesting thing is that Coppola's movie wasn't the first to take this approach. The 1970s BBC TV adaptation was probably the first, and the 1979 movie is very much a Dracula as tragic romantic hero movie.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I think a hard part about doing Dracula based on the book, is that after the count leaves Transylvania, he pretty much vanishes. So much of the remainder involves giving Lucy transfusions and calling her mom a dumb ass.

@Joe - I actually liked The Mummy too. I did not see it as a horror movie though, it was more Indiana Jones with mummies. I'll have to glance back at the book regarding Seward. I am glad they made him more important though. He's a major character in the book; more so than Harker to be sure in the British part. I agree that vampires are over romanticized. My favorite, IIRC, is Scars of Dracula, where the count is a vicious murderer.

@DfD - I like the tragic vampire when it is done well, though that is not often in film. I'll have to look for the BBC adaptation. As for the unsympathetic, going back to SoD, he is very calculating, but when vampires are just made into ghouls, like say From Dusk 'til Dawn (which I also like), it does get boring.

Kal said...

I loved it. Hammy overacting and a director who tried to hit it out of the park and almost did. "She's the Devil's CONCUBINE!!" is one of the great lines in the history of cinema.

Tim Brannan said...

I actually enjoyed this one despite it's (many) flaws. I have this one on tap for later in the month.

Wings said...

I liked it. Been too long since I have seen it, so I need to do a rewatch soon!

Darius Whiteplume said...

@Kal - I do like that van Helsing was a bit of a nut job ;-)

@Tim - I do not envy your all-Dracula attempt.

@Wings - I watched it streaming on Netflix. It is fun.

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