Monday, July 7, 2014

Argento's Dracula, Italy Deliver's the Classic Tale

Unlike 1992's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), 2012's "Argento's Dracula" is actually a good movie.  Rutger Hauer is a much better Van Helsing than Anthony Hopkins, and mercifully, Winona Ryder is not in the Dario Argento version.  In Coppola's version, Gary Oldman (a fine actor) is a horrible Dracula, but in Argento's version, Thomas Kretschmann turns in a fascinating performance.  What makes Kretschmann's portrayal so alluring?  His Dracula seemed a cross between Bela Lugosi and the Governor from "The Walking Dead." Filmed in 3D, with an over-the-top musical score, "Argento's Dracula" is a lot of fun and very atmospheric.
The plot is typical of Dracula movies.  As the film begins, Tanja (Miriam Giovanelli) violates a myriad of rules which B Movie fans know.  She sneaks out of her house against her mother's wishes, meets a married man in a barn, has pre-marital sex with him, throws away her cross pendant, believes her paramour when he tells her that noise outside was just the wind...and before you know it....she is one of Dracula's brides.  Meanwhile, Dracula summons Jonathan Harker to his castle to catalog his books.  With Lucy (Asia Argento) already under his spell, Dracula's real goal is to make Mina Harker (Maria Gastini) his bride.  Believing Mina is the reincarnation of his wife, Dracula uses Tanja and Lucy as pawns to lure Mina.  The Governor...I mean Dracula is manipulative, charming, and smarter than anyone in the town.  He can also take the form of an owl, wolf, rat, fly, roach, and praying mantis.  If you hold your breath long enough, you can almost see an eye-patch on his face.  
With Lucy gone....or undead, and her husband Jonathan missing, Mina searches for answers.  Enter Van Helsing (Hauer).Van Helsing is all business as he goes through Dracula's brides and sycophants like crap through a goose.  As Dracula succeeds in drawing Mina to his castle, Van Helsing heads there, well armed, with garlic, silver bullets, a wooden stake, and crosses.  Mina is no match for Dracula's hypnotic charm, and seems willing to succumb to his wishes.  Will Van Helsing arrive in time to save Mina?  Will Rick, Glenn, and mind.
While the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola version of Dracula wasted our time, Argetno's effort refreshingly paid homage to the real Bram Stoker work and also to Bela Lugosi who was Dracula in 1931.  Some of Lugosi's most famous quotes, such as "...children of the night...what music they make," are included in this film.  As for the acting, Rutger Hauer is always terrific, and Miriam Giovanelli is radiant as a very jealous bride of Dracula.  As for "The Walking Dead" fans, it will be difficult not to call this movie "Argento's The Governor."

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