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'DRACULA 2001' A BLOODSUCKING GOOD TIME AT THE MOVIES

Category: Dracula 2000 Reviews
Article Date: June 1, 2001 | Publication: Global News Wire | Author: JOKO E.H. ANWAR
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JAKARTA (Japan): It seems that vampire movies never die, just like the fanged immortals themselves.

However, filmmakers have their work cut out for them in the effort to make something interesting from the seemingly ready-to-use formula so familiar to audiences.

Earlier entries seem to have covered all the bases in their spins and twists.

We already have had the mob combating bloodsuckers in From Dusk Till Dawn, the excellent Interview with the Vampire, a comic turn with George Hamilton in Love at First Bite and even the deep and metaphoric The Addiction directed by Abel Ferrara.

Critics have nailed their stakes into the hearts of Little Vampires and the prequel of From Dusk Till Dawn which only managed a brief stay at local theaters.

Yes, some filmmakers have breathed new life into the theme, such as in Blade with a half-vampire, pre-Matrix vampire killer. It succeeded in grabbing a nice share at the box office.

The most recent entry at local theaters may not be able to lure many people to watch it. Even the title, Dracula 2001, screams "B-movie".

Well, it is a B-movie but a decent one. Even though it relies heavily on cheap thrills and second rate horror it succeeds in holding the viewer's interest and remains an entertaining flick throughout.

Executive-produced by horror meister Wes Craven and directed by the editor of the Scream trilogy, it offers plenty of bloody mayhem, kitschy crucifixes and Dracula wearing Brandon Lee's outfit from The Crow.

And as in many other Hollywood action films today, the influence of Hong Kong action films (those wire-aided fight scenes) can clearly be seen here.

We also get the obligatory industrial rock soundtrack throughout the film.

The movie opens with international antiques dealer Matthew Van Helsing (Plummer) in his London office.

Matthew is first introduced as the grandson of Abraham Van Helsing, the vampire hunter in Bram Stoker's novel.

He tells his young assistant, Simon (Trainspotting's Miller), that he is not happy with the way his grandfather inspired the character in Bram Stoker's novel, dismissing it as "the rantings of a deranged Irishman."

Not too long after that, an amusing twist occurs: Matthew is actually Abraham, the keeper of Dracula whom he keeps locked in his high security vault so that the evil will never be unleashed again.

To stay alive, he injects blood leeched from Dracula's undead corpse.

Unfortunately, a squad of high-tech thieves led by Omar Epps breaks into the vault, employing such gadgets as latex gloves imprinted with somebody else's fingerprints, a glass eye to pass an automatic retinal scan and glass balls filled with knock-out gas.

They find nothing in the vault except human skulls and a coffin which is seemingly impossible to open, not knowing that it contains Bram Stoker's vampire king himself.

Matthew-Abraham soon discovers that the thieves have decided to take the coffin hoping that it contains valuable stuff.

The thieves transported the coffin with a small airplane to America but things predictably go wrong pretty quickly as Dracula vampirizes everyone on board and lets the plane nosedive into a bayou.

The Count sets his feet in New Orleans where Van Helsing's estranged daughter, Mary (Waddell), spends her life dealing with increasingly horrifying dreams about a mysterious stranger.

Dracula then goes on his quest to find Mary whom he wants most to be his soulmate and starts cruising the Virgin megastore where Mary works.

Just like Vampire Lestat character in Anne Rice's vampire novels, the Count is amused by rock music as he pauses in front of a video for Monster Magnet's Heads Explode. "Brilliant!" he says in suggestive Slavic tones.

Dracula 2001 is enjoyably dark but its few attempts at camp humor often fall short. In this film, everyone is uniformly young and good- looking (except Plummer, of course), especially the Count himself, which is quite annoying.

Despite its B-movie nature, Dracula 2001 has an interesting story to tell which makes up for the lack of great special effects.

Be sure to get the secret of the origin of vampirism, which is revealed here. The film also gives the audience insight into the motives behind his aversion to silver and all things which smack of Christianity.

Dracula 2001 is not a great film by any means and it often immerses itself in comic-book silliness. But this is a perfect example of pure popcorn filmmaking. So get your friends together, load up on the5 buckets of popcorn and enjoy.


Dracula 2001 (**1/2 Out of ****); Horror/Action, 99 minutes; Starring Gerard Butler, Johny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Christopher Plummer, Omar Epps, Jennifer Esposito; Directed by Patrick Lussier; A Dimension Films Presentation

Copyright 2001 Financial Times Information
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