Dario Argento’s Dracula – aka Dracula 3D – is a 2012 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento from a screenplay by Argento, Enrique Cerezo, Stefano Piani, and Antonio Tentori. The film is not a direct adaptation of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, but features some elements from the novel.
A young librarian, Jonathan Harker, is welcomed at Castle Dracula by the Count and a young woman named Tania, who seems intent on seducing Harker. The Count prevents Tania from biting the young man, but Dracula attacks Harker himself, leaving the him weak. Harker attempts to escape the castle, but is killed by a wolf.
Harker’s wife, Mina, arrives in the village and stays at the home of her friend, Lucy Kisslinger. Worried about her husband, she visits the castle, and falls under the spell of the Count. It transpires that Dracula has engineered their meeting, because Mina is the reincarnation of his long-lost love, Dolinger. Lucy also becomes undead before the mysterious happenings in the village attract the attention of vampire expert Van Helsing, who prepares for final combat with his deadliest foe…
The overwhelming feeling one is left with after watching Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D is that of sadness. It seems pointless to ridicule a film which spends so much effort in ridiculing itself; it’s enough instead to say that cypher ‘characters’ with absolutely no sense of an inner life, played by actors who under emote or over emote seemingly according to whim and without direction (a subject I’ll come back to later), tumble in and out of scenes spouting lifeless dialogue that exists only to move the plot forward.
Blocking and staging appear cursory at best, art direction looks empty and impoverished (as does the woeful CGI), the editing is often disjointed and confusing and the music is smothered heavily over every scene and seems determined to hammer out Dracula’s every appearance in his many forms with the utterly ill-advised use of a theremin leitmotif.
Glimmers of ideas fresh to the retelling (the hint of a sad-masochistic relationship between one of Dracula’s vampire brides and Renfield, an ultimately useless sub-plot concerning a pact between Dracula and several townsfolk) are suggested and thrown away in order to get to the next un-shocking scene of CGI bloodletting.
Of the cast, Asia Argento turns in a quite shockingly awful performance and gives no reason to suggest why she was thought right for the role other than being the director’s daughter, Rutger Hauer mistakes pregnant pauses with character, Thomas Kretschmann struggles hard to underplay but unfortunately ends up appearing in a different film while everyone else seems to have been plucked from community theatre or adult movies.
At the centre of all these problems of course, is the director. I have no idea what Argento was trying to say with this mess, or what he hoped to achieve. The film contains nothing of substance that we haven’t seen many times before, and often with considerably more style and creativity even on equally low budgets (which I’m presuming had to be the case here, or at least I hope was the case), and seems designed only to be a joke to which the director was not privy.
And having said all of the preceding, one of my favourite directors has made a film which for the first time for me in his entire body of work, can be called completely without life. In short, Argento has finally made an utterly boring film, one which I doubt I will ever find the patience to revisit.
Dave King, MOVIES & MANIA
The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review noting that the “first of many unintentional laughs in Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D comes on the opening credits” and “This is a tired rehash that adds little to the canon aside from such outré touches as having Drac shapeshift into a swarm of flies or a giant grasshopper in one howler of a scene.”
Variety also gave the film a negative review, stating “Director Argento half-heartedly mixes schlocky 3D f/x with one-dimensional characters for a near-two-hour joke that ought to have been funnier.”
Screen Daily noted that “it is so lushly loopy that against all odds it could become something of a 3D cult title, and certainly for those of us who have ‘experienced’ it there is a certain ‘I was there’ badge of honour…”
Van Helsing: “Thank God I had enough garlic.”