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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Killer > Vampire > Italy > Dario Argento's Dracula 3D (2013/MPI Blu-ray 3D w/2D)

Dario Argento's Dracula 3D (2013/MPI Blu-ray 3D w/2D)

3D Picture: C 2D Picture: B Sound: B+ Extras: B Film: C

There's much to love and hate about Dario Argento's recent adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula in Dracula 3D. The film echoes the work of early Hammer films while not quite finding the charm or imagination to capture most American audiences. One look at the film's rotten tomato page could scare away a viewer quicker than a religious artifact aimed at the Prince of Darkness himself but honestly it's not the worst Dracula film I've ever seen by any stretch. Asia Argento as Lucy Kisslinger and Rutger Hauer as Van Helsing are the highlights of the cast starring opposite Thomas Kretschmann as a just ok Dracula.

During the Walpurgis Night in the woods adjacent to Passo Borgo, at the foot of the Carpathian mountains, a couple of young lovers, Tania (Miriam Giovanelli) and Milos, secretly meet. On her way home, Tania is chased and overcome by a HUGE owl that attacks and brutally kills her.

Shortly after the incident, Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde), a young librarian, arrives at the village hired by Count Dracula, a nobleman from the area. Tania's body mysteriously disappears from the cemetery. In the meantime Harker, before going to Count Dracula's castle, visits Lucy Kisslinger (Asia Argento) who is his wife Mina's (Marta Gastini) best friend as well as the daughter of the local mayor.

Upon arriving at the castle, Harker is greeted by Tania (now a vampire), who tries from the very beginning to seduce him; however they are interrupted by Dracula's entrance welcoming Harker. The following night, Tania tries again to bite Harker, she is close to his neck when she is stopped by the Count who gets the upper hand and bites Harker's neck, however allowing him to live. This moment in the film that should be powerful is instead comical. Dracula's entrance is mouth widely open and two arms outstretched. Even worse, he grabs the nude Tania and throws her across the room in one of the worst digital effects in filmmaking history. (at least that I have seen)

The following day, a weakened but still conscious Harker attempts to escape, but as soon as he is outside the castle a large wolf changes into Dracula and attacks him. Meanwhile, Mina, Harker's wife, arrives in the village and is a guest for a few days at the home of her dearest friend Lucy Kisslinger, who will also be bitten and turned. Asia's vampiric transformation is well executed as she omits a sexual and dangerous performance.

The day after, Mina, worried about her husband, goes to Count Dracula's castle. Their encounter makes her forget what happened during her visit. She is completely under the count's influence; the count had orchestrated the events leading up to their encounter; in fact Mina looks exactly like his beloved Dolinger, who died some centuries ago. To me this love triangle was handled far better in Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992, see the Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site) which gave the audience a window into her mind by using experimental transitions and camerawork. The relationship in this film feels more theatrical than cinematic, which is another problem this film has.

Returning to the Kisslinger house, Mina learns of the death of her dear friend Lucy. The sequence of such strange and dramatic events summons the aid of Van Helsing (whom he FINALLY see in the final act), vampire expert of the techniques used to eliminate them.

Van Helsing, aware of the circumstances decides to act swiftly and prepares the tools needed to combat vampires. He directs himself to the center of evil, Count Dracula's castle. Meanwhile, Dracula, in the village, kills the inhabitants who rescinded their pact, while Van Helsing, inside the castle, is able to definitively eliminate Tania. Dracula, intent on his desire to reunite with his beloved wife, leads Mina, completely hypnotized, to the castle where Van Helsing is waiting.

The end of the film is a dramatic showdown between Mina, Van Helsing, and Dracula that ends the film with a bloodbath and a stinger at the end that is so bad it makes you groan when the credits hit the screen.

The one original element in this film that sets it apart are the different animals that Dracula transforms into. An owl, a wolf, and oddly enough: a giant green praying mantis. Unfortunately, while this element is creative on the page, the tacky cheap-looking digital effects lessen the overall quality of a beautifully photographed film. Though you have to give it to Dario, the gore in the film is plentiful and doesn't hold back. You will never look at a praying mantis the same way as it plunges its oversized claws into its victim in this film.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital high definition transfer on this disc is gorgeous with primarily blue, green, and yellow as the main color palette. The downside is that several exterior scenes are over exposed with whites almost blinding in contrast to the film's darker scenes. This, however, could have been the intention of Argento when making the film, as if the audience (much like Dracula) are irritated by the sun.

This 3D version on this Blu-ray disc is all and all a pretty average experience as the film doesn't have many 3D moments. However, it does help make some of the digital effects look not quite as bad as they do in 2D. It doesn't feel entirely necessary - not like his innovative use of Steadicam in Phenomena (1985), which at the time was groundbreaking and experimental.

Special Features on this release are not bad at all. (Though it would have been nice to see deleted scenes, a soundtrack only track, or maybe a commentary.):

Behind the Scenes - An insight look at the making of the film, in Italian with subtitles, explores the different aspects of production in great detail. A large portion of this extra is picture-in-picture with clips from the film and conversations with the creators. It runs a little over an hour which is impressive and more informative than the casual supplement.

Music Video - Kiss Me Dracula in 3D

And two trailers - the normal and the redband

All in all, if you are a diehard Argento fans only or a viewer who is obsessed with vampirism, then this film may be for you. If not, you may be better off watching Universal's Bela Lugosi classic again.

- James Harland Lockhart V


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