I am the monster that breathing men would kill. I am Dracula.
The above statement could be true, but the movie is still great, even two decades after it was filmed. Part of the story sticks to the novel of the same name and I guess we are all familiar with it by now. Jonathan Harker travels to Translvania to assist The Count in his purchase of estates in London. He finds out that he is a vampire, returns to England teams up with Van Helsing and they try to hunt down and destroy Dracula. Naturally there is much more to the story, but everybody knows it by now.
There is this little thing that I can’t shake off, it feels like I was watching two different movies and only one of them was great.
Dracula – the badass
I was always impressed with the opening sequence telling us a story of Dracula who defended the Christendom against the Turks. Even the scene in church when he stabs the cross with his sword and starts to drink the blood that pours out. It is an intro to a great horror movie, a proper Dracula story in which he is a villain and a monster. When Harker arrives in his castle he is a scary old man. There are several creepy scenes like the one when Dracula’s shadow moves around independently or when perfume drips upwards from the bottle. Not to mention the the baby and Dracula’s brides. It gave us the perfect horror setting, evil has no morals and will do anything to get what it wants. Then as the story progressed it came to another part which deviated from the original novel:
Dracula – the lovesick puppy
Well not exactly, more like a lovesick/horny werewolf/bat-like, bloodthirsty vampire monster type of villain, but yes, there had to be a love story involved. It showed us Dracula as a more human like character that considered his condition as a curse. He saw Mina as a reincarnation of his dead wife and thought that she was his salvation. Well this is the part I’m not so comfortable with, I always saw Dracula as a true gothic horror villain archetype and to give him humanity and ability to love just didn’t feel right. It feels like the bloodthirstiest vampire that ever lived (or un-lived?) also built the foundation for the sparkling sad excuses of the bloodsuckers that haunted the big screen not so long ago (and my nightmares also). If you don’t believe me there is an official soundtrack video below and see for ourselves.
Final grade of the movie?
In Transylvania you don’t grade a Dracula movie, Dracula grades and then impales YOU! – old Transylvanian saying
Over two decades since the release, it is still a great horror title, excellent in some parts and a bit disappointing in others. The cast was superb, Gary Oldman was great in both roles (badass and the puppy), next to him you have Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing and Tom Waits as Renfield. Plus there is an atmosphere of the time when science and technology started to push superstition aside. As for the part that Dracula gave birth to sparkling ones, see the video yourselves and then watch the movie again.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writers: Bram Stoker (novel), James V. Hart (screenplay)
Stars: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins