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Dario Argento's Dracula 2012 | 106 min | Not rated | 2.39:1



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Movie appeal



Theatrical release date

 04 October, 2013

Country of origin


Technical aspects

3D (native, 106 minutes)



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Screenshots from Dracula 3D Blu-ray

Dracula Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, October 3, 2013

Dario Argento isn’t the director he once was. With cult classics such as “Deep Red” and “Suspiria,” Argento built a powerful brand name in horror circles, displaying his gift for stylish execution with his macabre imagination for murder. These days, it’s difficult to find anything inspiring about his work, with recent output “Giallo” and “The Card Player” showing faint flashes of life, but coming off labored, with the helmer trying to revisit his past successes without the same creative tools (I do possess a fondness for 2007’s “The Mother of Tears”). “Dracula” is perhaps his weakest effort to date, a flaccid retelling of Bram Stoker’s immortal tale of monstrous obsession, reduced here to a filmed community theater rehearsal with Full Sail freshman visual effects.

Deep in the heart of Transylvania, Count Dracula (Thomas Kretchmann) rules the night, intimidating the local village as he takes the form of wolves and insects, stealing a bride in Tania (Miriam Giovanelli). Off to catalog Dracula’s book collection, Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) enters a forbidding castle, only to succumb to its seductive dangers. Arriving to find her husband, Mina (Marta Gastini) is greeted by Lucy (Asia Argento), a young woman who also joins the ranks of the undead, sending Mina into panic and eventually into Dracula’s arms, where the monster professes eternal love for his soul mate. With bodies piling up around town and lunatic servant Renfield (Giovanni Franzoni) on the loose, vampire hunter Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer) is called into duty, tasked with rescuing Mina, ending the bloodsucker plague, and destroying Dracula with help from a variety of weapons.

More of a summary of Stoker’s famed story than a true adaptation, Argento’s “Dracula” is truly its own thing, taking more cues from Hammer Horror endeavors than the original text. While costuming and set dressing is passable, the production clearly doesn’t have a bountiful budget to realize the material in a grandly cinematic fashion, with much of “Dracula” spent trying to cover a restricted scope. The tale doesn’t travel very far, with action limited to village panic and castle interiors, leaving the punch of Dracula’s reign of terror to CGI efforts, and those are howl-worthy. Far too ambitious for the money spent, the visual effects make “Dracula” look cheap and silly, unable to conjure the unholy darkness intended by the character’s transformation into animals and insects (including a praying mantis for reasons not established). Castle exteriors are flat and artificial bloodshed is absolutely unnecessary. Even simple shots where characters dig into their own skin to feed the vampires are assisted with CGI. Has the price of fake blood skyrocketed in recent years? Considering Argento was once a master of murderous appetites, the unadventurous gore zone visits contained within the movie are disheartening.

Burning through the highlights of the story, the screenplay doesn’t allow much time for dramatics. Performances suffer due to the hurried nature of the movie, leaving committed work from Kretchmann high and dry (he seems to be enjoying his time in the iconic role), while the rest of the ensemble scrambles to make an impression in the least amount of moves. Even Van Helsing’s appearance in the feature is neutered, finding the famous vampire killer stripped of his motivation, displayed here as a heavy-breathing hero armed with garlic bullets, with Hauer’s focus clearly elsewhere as he stumbles through the performance. Argento being Argento, there’s plenty of nudity to distract from the disaster, with Giovanelli’s role largely consisting of toplessness and a vague arc where Tania grows jealous of the attention Dracula pays to Mina.

“Dracula” is such a stiff, unpolished picture, representing the worst of Argento’s instincts. The director desires to weave a gothic tale of obsession and possession, only to fumble the essential elements of the story, treating the screenplay like a highlight reel of Stoker, cherry picking the best parts. “Dracula” isn’t confused, it’s simply botched, with Argento constipated, struggling to conjure an immersive horror atmosphere that could cover the production’s debilitating corner-cutting. One would think the marriage of “Dracula” and Argento would result in a humdinger of a seductive bloodbath. Instead, the picture limps to a ridiculous conclusion, without the type of artistry one expects from a once formidable genre master.

Starring: Asia Argento, Thomas Kretschmann, Rutger Hauer
Director: Dario Argento

» See full cast & crew

Dracula, Forum Discussions

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Dracula (2014) 57 Jul 19, 2014
Hollywood's Dracula War 3 Jul 13, 2012

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