Wednesday, August 7, 2013

170 of 1001 Movies: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

So since so many movies are unavailable to watch because they aren't available in certain countries or formats, you will find movies like Dracula that appeared on the original list, but not the updated list on my blog. Anyways, I think Dracula should have been left on the list. It is what I think is the most terrifying movie I've watched. Francis Ford Coppola also highlights what seems to be the workings of years of practice to finally make a movie that shows his artistic eye. It's the ultimate color fest.

Summary: Jonathon is assigned to assist a mysterious man, Dracula, in a dark village after his former assistant, Renfield, went mad. Dracula discovers that Jonathon's fiancee looks a lot like his former love who he became cursed over. He traps Jonathon at his mansion in order to escape away to find his fiancee, Mina. Dracula has powers that are really difficult to resist, so when he does arrive he begins causing chaos in Mina's household. Van Helsing arrives to help Jonathon and the family get rid of the horrors that Dracula is causing in his hopes of gaining Mina's affection.

Acting:  Gary Oldman stars as Dracula, and he really shows his range early in his career. He almost seems unrecognizable as himself, and gets down and creepy to portray the part. Anthony Hopkins is Van Helsing and kicks butt at it. He sort of doesn't appear till midway though so it isn't like he has much spotlight. Many have bashed the casting choice of Keanu Reeves Jonathon though, but I think people forget that Reeves really did lead his field at one time, and has starred in a diverse range of movies. Reeves really embodies what Jonathon needs to be about though, and that is he in love, he's young, and he's desperate to get his fiancee away from this weirdo! Wyonna Ryder is a good actress, but it isn't like I've seen her in a great range of things. She always that pretty oddball with the very soft voice. The most shocking cast choice comes with Tom Waits, who is Renfield. I didn't even know this guy acted till this year, and now he is just everywhere. He proves he can sing and act though.

Filming: What is truly spectacular is the filming. Coppola seems to be trying to redeem himself after The Godfather Part 3 fiasco that probably made fans think he sold out. He sort of comes back with a film though that shows he still has an eye for it, and brings a film that still holds up well over time. He does not look dated to the 90's. The color is vivid, and embodies a bit of the old school horror with deep shadows and strong set props. It's like a black and white 1930's horror movie with added color to the pop. You also have some scenes that really progress well to change scenes. There are some scenes so spooky that I haven't ever gotten them out of my mind, like when the undead comes back and vomits blood. So disgusting.

Plot: The plot sticks closely to Bram Stoker's original text unlike other adaptations. Previous films like the 1930 version probably strayed from original text because it is very racy and violent. If you like real vampire horror though then this is the best of the best. With Dracula you have no line between him being a monster or human. He is a demon, and it is because of the sin he committed. The film doesn't try to make him out to be struggling to still hold on to humanity. What was left of his humanity left him when he died to become what he is now. That is what makes the movie so terrifying, because it is horror and it's about a monster.  He doesn't care about anyone, and the only reason he wants Mina is to make what he did to himself I think worth it in his mind. I like how the line is clearly drawn though. There is no conflicting feeling about who is the bad guys and good guys.

Dracula for some reason was what vampire stories have strayed from because in all honesty vampires aren't beings that struggle with their humanity. If they were struggling with that then they wouldn't be a monster. Vampires have a lost a bit of their horror appeal because of that change in appeal about them. There is nothing likable about Dracula in this movie, or vampires in general, and that just feels the way it should be. He just makes one heck of a terrifying monster for a scare, and by the end we hope Van Helsing can stop him.

Rating 9 of 10.

Dracula (1992) on IMDb

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