For previous readers of this column, you may have noticed a curious similarity between this movie and one I have previously covered: Dracula 3000. While they are similar in concept, having Dracula appear in the era and year in the film’s title, but that is the furthest down the road of similarity they both will go. Dracula 2000 is set in the titular year, and was an attempt to bring Dracula into the modern era.
My word choice of ‘attempt’ is very specific, for outside glances toward the film may give you the impression that it is a quality production. I will concede to the points of good set design, good supporting actors, and decent pacing of scenes. However, there is a reason the film is on the autopsy table today and I aim to dig in and find out the failing parts that ultimately relegated the film to being a box office failure and a direct to video series.
The film starts in a way that I am starting to see more commonly; thieves attempt to steal something and unwittingly set the world up for potential demise. This time, the thieves have targeted a safe in the estate of Van Helsing, seeking out mythical treasure. They happen upon a coffin, and after securing it on their airplane, make the bright decision to open it. Dracula is once more walking upon the mortal earth.
Already we come to the first problem the film has, Dracula. This incarnation of daddy vamp has a personality issue, specifically being his persona and demeanor lacking any sort of intimidating… bite. No matter which scenes or the context of them, Dracula is unintentionally hilarious, even when he is seducing victims with his dark charms. I dare you to watch the scene of him making blood love with Mary’s roommate, and suddenly perspective changes with the demonic beast of two backs now going at each other on the bloody ceiling. It is so damn absurd; if they intended a lewd mood with that scene, it yielded something far away from it instead. Arguably better too.
Speaking of Mary, who is she? Since this is a ‘classic’ mold of Dracula, we have the religious element involved. If you’re thinking she’s THE Virgin Mary from holy texts, you would be incorrect. However, Mary is an employee for a Virgin music store in New Orleans. Ha. Aha. Ha. Ha.
While Mary has a small bit of more depth to her character, she, her father, and Dracula are the only characters in this movie that are deeper than a two inch trench. We are introduced to a variety of characters, only for them to become vampire slaves or killed off by Dracula. The terrible thing is those characters are the most interesting throughout the movie.
The more I write on this movie, the more I feel I should be at least annoyed with it, and yet I went through the entire run of the film very amused, only at its expense. Other than the plot, nothing in this film feels like it was given proper time to develop into something substantial. My prior mention of the introduction of many interesting side characters, only for them to fall under Dracula’s thrall is one such instance.
Another is the history of the Van Helsing estate and its current caretaker, the original Abraham Van Helsing. Sure, the film gives us some exposition as to their previous run-in and victory over Dracula, including Mary having a portion of Dracula’s blood in her from birth. Then a tease of more information to potentially follow is inferred, followed by Abraham dying a couple of scenes later. Those that rise from clichés and bad writing, so too are buried by them. But don’t worry; we get the teased information via an exposition dump from Van Helsing journals being read.
As I ponder it more, I think my earlier statement of the movie having decent pacing of scenes is perhaps giving them too much credit in that regard. Sure, the speed of the scenes didn’t give me whiplash with sudden tone and intensity changes, but the events these scenes contain don’t follow those same variables.
With this thought in mind, I can start to see the main issue the film has: the events that happen are too plentiful and happen too fast. Characters aren’t given time to grow, and points of significance are seldom grown either until the finale. Dracula seemingly has random resistance to catholic artifacts, and has a severe power creep involved.
Yet, all he does with his immense power is essentially lethally tickle everyone in comparison, and play mind games with his target Mary, instead of exerting his unholy magical might to kidnap her and coerce her into joining his side. Then he finally closes the distance on her, and I want to leave you with a mind exercise.
How does Dracula get her to come with her? Mystical vampiric enthrall magic? A straight mugging via his vampire children? His sly tongue and seductive prowess? While the lattermost is true in the next scene for a different context, the actual answer is he convinces her that her vampire blood makes her belong to him. Coincidentally, in her prior panic of learning the truth about her blood, she said the same thing. “I belong to him.” The next scene attempts to cement this.
How so? By having Dracula make another bed beast with Mary. Instead of the hilarity of the prior gravity defying butter churning from when Mary’s roommate was seduced, we get reality warping for the sole purpose of Dracula giving Mary his exposition. The knowledge of Dracula actually being Judas Iscariot, the reasons for his weakness to silver and wood, and a method to potentially kill him flows into Mary via hallucinations, and it appears she is in his thrall. Once this sequence was finished, I came to a startling realization. This whole sequence had Dracula doing the deed with a human that is essentially his decedent. Another realization I came across is that it is fun to write with double-entendres.
In an attempt to steer my autopsy of this film back from making it sound like a lewd movie, I shall now bring us to the finale. This finale consists of the following clichés and descriptions, and I would like you to put the scene together with your imagination. It will be just as hilarious: Main character 2 might be killed by the enthralled main character 1; betrayal of the antagonist; Matrix-esque physical combat between M.C. 1 and the antagonist; non-vamp main character loses his weapon, and is saved from it being out of ammo; Main character 1 saves the day despite being on the ropes with a conveniently placed length of cable wire.
If you can’t infer it from that pile of clichés, Dracula is defeated by being hanged with a cable wire that is attached to a neon cross (†) sign on top of a building. One wonders why he didn’t use his mystical mist-ical teleportation powers to stop him from hanging like a piñata, but it is what it is. The sun comes up, incinerates Dracula, and the world restarts; with Mary taking over her father’s role.
This movie is very similar in outcome to its 3000 cousin; unintentionally hilarious scenes in the beginning, middle, and a finale that seals the deal with prime grade cheese. Get your popcorn ready if you decide to watch this film, for it is a great comedy, despite what any other synopsis might say.