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Monday, January 23, 2006

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Until last Friday, I hadn't seen a really bad movie in years. Before, The Beach and the original When a Stranger Calls were probably the worst movies I'd ever seen. Now I can add Bram Stoker's Dracula to that list.

I remember the trailers for the movie when it came out in 1992. The movie looked cool, but I wasn't completely drawn to see it. I had read part of the book but never finished it. Fast forward to a few weeks ago: I'm reading Innocent When You Dream, the Tom Waits reader that came out last year, and I see that the great Mr. Waits had a role in this flick. I felt compelled to see another flick with Mr. Waits as I had recently seen Short Cuts and saw Down By Law a little more than a year ago. He was good in both flicks so I felt inclined to see if he was good in Bram Stoker's Dracula too. Well, he's probably the only thing worth watching in this train wreck of a movie.

Waits plays Renfield, a once sane man now locked up in an insane asylum because of his connection to Dracula. Waits shows depth for a character that is essentially a one-note character. If you've never seen this flick, be aware that all of the characters are one-note characters. That spells trouble: Anthony Hopkins plays the smart-ass/mysterious Dr. Van Helsing, Keanu Reeves plays the stiff Jonathan Harker, Winona Ryder plays the damsel in distress Mina and Gary Oldman plays Count Dracula in all his different permutations. Any kind of believable tension between them is not there. They're just there with very little connection between them other than Dracula being at the epicenter.

Adding to the trouble equation is the far-flung/haphazard plot. Essentially Dracula longs for his wife who committed suicide several thousand years ago. When he believes that Mina is his long lost bride reincarnated, he goes after her. Somehow along the way Dracula infects Mina's friend Lucy and she becomes a baddie. Nice little diversion from the main plot, but ultimately it leads to a showdown between the mortal men (and woman) and Dracula. Guess who wins? Guess who doesn't really give a flip what happens by the end of this?

Bram Stoker's Dracula has "turkey" written all over it. It's slow, boring, long and very anti-climactic. I'm glad I saw it for Tom Waits, but I didn't find much else to savor. I didn't expect the movie to be bad at all. What could have been a non-b-movie adaptation of the classic Dracula tale just became a b-movie with major stars in it. Ugh.

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