The following is not really a review, which is fitting, since Dracula 2000 was never screened for critics prior to release. Rather, it’s an email I sent to a friend, writing in a mood of extreme disgust and disbelief after having sat through the DVD. Read on…
Subject: 99 minutes of shit
We’re talking 5,940 seconds better spent doing anything else under the sun, including but not limited to pulling out one’s toenails one by one. We’re talking a cinematic experience not unlike having someone open the top of your skull and fart all over your brain. We’re talking one of the stupidest horror movies in the history of horror movies.
We’re talking Dracula 2000.
Wes Craven presented this. Wes Craven also presented Wishmaster, if you recall. Wes Craven should never be allowed to present anything ever again. To borrow a joke from Gene Siskel, if Wes Craven presented the lost footage from The Magnificent Ambersons, it would still suck. Not to slam Craven as a director of his own films — Dimension is whoring his name to sell shitty horror movies. I really hope he has nothing more to do with these movies than sitting in on a couple of meetings.
This isn’t a remake, as you may have heard. It’s a modern-day Dracula story. The third-billed Gerard Butler makes probably the least impressive Dracula since, I don’t know, ever. He looks like a guy who works in a bowling alley part-time.
I’m gonna go into detail about the movie’s stupidness, so if you don’t want spoilers, save this for after you’ve suffered through this Panavision smegma, then come back here for laughs.
We open with a recreation of Dracula’s landing at London, with all the crew members on the ship dead. This will later be reiterated. After the credits we’re in London, present day. Dr. Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer), who’s still pissed because Bram Stoker made his ancestor look like a nutcase in his book, runs some sort of antiques dealership in Carfax Abbey. His assistant is Jonny Lee Miller, who gets top billing, because he was in Trainspotting. He has another assistant, Jennifer Esposito, who distinguished herself as eye candy in Summer of Sam, and that’s basically all she is allowed to be here.
Jennifer is secretly in cahoots with a bunch of high-tech thieves (led by Omar Epps), who break into Carfax and make off with the weird coffin they find in Van Helsing’s vault, but not before a couple of their number have been impaled on traps. They take a plane back, but Dracula busts out of the coffin and vampirizes everyone aboard and lures Jennifer to become one of his vampire bitches. The plane crashes in New Orleans. Jeri Ryan, the Borg chick from Star Trek, reports on the scene with her cameraman. Camera guy gets killed, Jeri becomes Vamp Bitch #2.
Meanwhile, some Sarah MacLachlan-looking British chick is having nightmares about Dracula. Her roommate is Colleen Anne Fitzpatrick, better known to the kids as pop singer Vitamin C. (They really went for the MTV demographic on this one.) They both work at a Virgin Records superstore, providing a lame bit of cleverness when Dracula first has a vision of British Chick and she’s wearing her “Virgin” shirt from work. Ha ha.
Meanwhile, Dr. Van Helsing jets over to New Orleans after he conveniently sees Jeri’s news report on the plane crash and recognizes the coffin amidst the wreckage. The “bodies” from the crash are left at the town hall (I guess because if they were taken to the morgue, as in most non-stupid movies, they’d be quickly drained and dissected and left with very little vampire potential). Jonny Lee follows Van Helsing to the town hall. Cue vampire attack. Our heroes have nifty anti-vamp hardware, including a gun that fires silver spikes. In a really idiotic shot, Jennifer seems to leap away from her attackers into a sunbeam — uh, excuse me? sunbeam? sun + vampire = sizzle? — but a few shots later we see it’s night outside, so we have no idea where this sunbeam-looking light is coming from.
We find out Van Helsing is the Van Helsing, kept alive all these years by injecting himself with Dracula’s blood, which he gets from leeches that he put on Dracula’s body in the coffin. (Why didn’t he just drain all of Dracula’s blood in one whack? I dunno.) We also learn that British Chick is his daughter and Dracula is drawn to her because she was born with his blood in her. He visits the Virgin superstore and all the teen girls get wet just looking at him (okay, that’s pretty funny, I’ll give it that much).
He meets Vitamin C, does the meat-slap with her, and turns her into Vamp Bitch #3. So now we have three babes as vamp bitches, but if you see a picture of them on the web somewhere you’ve pretty much seen all there is to see (except for brief nudity by Vitamin C). They swoon around slowly like Drusilla and act slutty and sarcastic. They have lots of lame one-liners. So does Jonny Lee, who after fending off the vampire Omar delivers one of the saddest lines in any movie ever: “Don’t fuck with an antiques dealer.”
There is no Renfield figure here. Jennifer is the closest we get, and she gives maybe the best performance because she’s very into being a vampire bitch. She may be worth watching in the future.
Oh, and somewhere in here Van Helsing gets killed and is found stashed under a bed somewhere. “Hey, Mr. Plummer, you wanna do this shitty Dracula movie and end up dead under some bed?” “Sure.”
Oh, and somewhere else in here there’s the worst acting since Ed Wood was alive, in a scene where Jennifer is in jail (this is her almost-Renfield moment) and Dracula arrives to bust her out. He’s about to kill some doctor who happens to be there, and the guy playing the doctor has the most ridiculous overstated “oh God please don’t kill me” expression I’ve seen in any movie ever. Remember that craptastic Keanu moment in the Coppola film when he sees the vamp bitches start to feed on the baby and he goes “Noooooo!!! Aaaaaaagh! NOOOOOOO!!” That was subtle compared to this.
Oh, and somewhere else in here there’s a scene where British Chick gets a phone call from undead Vitamin C who’s somewhere in the house. I couldn’t help it, I just said aloud “What’s your favorite scary movie?” All that’s missing is the Jiffy Pop.
Dracula has the ability to command the elements as well as fog machines and CGI. He turns into wolves and bats. There’s a fair amount of wire-fu in the climax — what is this, Crouching Vampire, Hidden Crucifix? (Actually the cinematographer on this was Peter Pau, who also did Crouching Tiger. Two David Cronenberg regulars, set designer Carol Spier and costume designer Denise Cronenberg [yeah, his sister], are also credited here. I pity Dave for probably having to sit through this shit just because two of his posse worked on it.)
People get thrown across the room a lot. People get thrown through windows equally frequently. British Chick lets herself be vamp-ized by Dracula, but not really. She finds out the only way to kill him is to hang him by the neck from a large neon cross (I think Joel Schumacher told her). This occurs. He dies. The sun comes out and the film crew sets fire to a stiff-looking Dracula dummy on a rope.
What really sucks is they actually had a decent idea to rework Dracula’s origin. Here we’re told that Dracula is really none other than … Judas Iscariot. Hence his loathing for the cross and anything silver. (Doesn’t explain why sunlight hurts him, though.) It’s a cool Twilight Zone twist ending but it comes at a price of 99 minutes of peanut-filled shite.
With the aforementioned three technicians at work, this is a good-looking film. It’s not terribly directed either; longtime Craven editor Patrick Lussier does okay. It’s the script, by some guy named Joel, that takes the pipe. It’s way too transparently “Let’s do Dracula for teenagers.”
Really bad. Don’t be tempted. If you’ve read this far, either you’ve already seen it or you’ve decided not to. I hope for your sake you’ve decided not to. Stoker is spinning in his grave. The lamest episode of Buffy is Kurosawa compared to this.