MMM Day 5: #338 -- Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Rating: 3 / 5

I wanted to include Dracula in this week's monster madness, but I already reviewed the 1931 movie a while ago. I found this on demand, and I jumped on it. I've gone against everything I believe in. I have now seen two Dracula movies, and I haven't read the book. The shame!

I love Bela Lugosi as Dracula. To me, he is Dracula, and he always will be. This variation on the Count was interesting, to say the least. I thought Gary Oldman did a good job with the role, and the character was definitely creepy and different. But I just couldn't let myself believe that it was Dracula. He was a monster out of a child's nightmare. He could transform his looks at the blink of an eye -- from young to old, from human-like to werewolf to giant bat-creature. I'm familiar with vampires being able to transform into other beasts, but...the way I like it, they turn into regular bats and wolves. It seems more natural that way, if that makes any sense. The reason that I love Bela's Dracula is because he is natural. He was a monster disguised as a human; very sophisticated and romantic. This Dracula tried to be those things, but I just didn't feel it like I did with Bela. He lived in an enormous castle in Transylvania, he wore extravagant clothing, and he spoke with eloquence. But it just wasn't the same.

The love story at play here felt more like Romeo and Juliet than anything. In the beginning, we see Dracula with his lover, Elisabeta. Assuming (for reasons I didn't catch) that Dracula was dead, she took her own life. Dracula then stabbed a cross, from which gallons of blood spewed, and somehow turned himself into a vampire, swearing that he would avenge her death one day. How you can avenge someone's suicide is beyond me. Jump to the 1800s, and the story picks up in familiar territory. Jonathan Harker traveling to Transylvania to meet with the Count with real estate business. He ended up seduced and held captive by Dracula's three brides, while the Count went to London to seduce Jonathan's wife-to-be, Mina. Even though she barely knew him, and was apparently deeply in love with Jonathan not long before, she fell in love with Dracula. She married Jonathan anyway, even though she knew that she wanted someone else. Then she let Dracula transform her, and tried to protect him as Jonathan, Van Helsing, and some other people set out to kill him.

It sounds good, now that I write it out. And I guess the story is pretty good, it just wasn't executed in a way that I could get behind. The love story wasn't developed quite enough, and I couldn't feel the love that they supposedly felt for one another (neither Mina and Jonathan's, nor Mina and Dracula's). It didn't leave a mark. That love story is actually the only part of the movie that I was able to follow, since that was the main plot point going on here. The rest could have been cut out and I wouldn't feel any differently. I felt like I just couldn't follow the movie. Every couple of minutes, I felt like it had skipped and that I'd missed something. I just didn't get it. Though I did like Gary Oldman somewhat, the rest of the characters just didn't sit well with me. His was the only one that was actually developed; the rest were dull and forgettable.

Visually, the movie was great. I loved the atmosphere at work, and the cinematography looked good. The special effects were also striking, and it felt like a gothic fairy tale. A low budget movie with no effects or fancy camera work can still be a great movie if it has a great story to back it up. But a movie with all the technology to its disposal will still fail if the story is lacking that special something. That is the case with Bram Stoker's Dracula. Again, I haven't read the book; but those who have say that this is an awful adaptation. I'm not sure how the 1931 movie holds up for those people. But for me, sixty years, a lot of money and fancy equipment did not make a better movie.


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  2. I'm quite a vampire-fan and I love the story of Dracula, but this movie hasn't done anything for me. Weird atmosphere, not much tension and at times too "campy". Hmm.

    1. I agree. I liked how it looked, but not much else.