Title: Dario Argento’s Dracula 3-D (2012)
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Asia Argento, Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, Unax Agalde, Giovanni Franzoni
There’s this idea amongst film buffs that directors tend to make worse films the older they get; and I think it's true, with very few exceptions, as directors get older, they lose that magic that made their first films great. Case in point: Dario Argento who had his golden age back in the 70’s and 80’s when he made films like Suspiria (1977), Deep Red (1975) and Opera (1987). I remember those movies being awesome because of their atmosphere, the over the top violence and those special camera angles that Argento was so fond of. But somewhere around the late 80’s and early 90’s Argento was showing signs of fatigue, his films just weren’t the same. I guess when I started to notice something was off with Argento was around the time he made his version of Phantom of the Opera (1998) which was just a goofy, goofy film. Trying to be all serious and romantic, yet failing horribly at it. After that one, he’s never really ever given us anything as remotely good as his early stuff. Seeing Argento’s Dracula cements the idea that Argento is totally done for as a director. Sadly.
I get what Argento was trying to do with his take on Stoker’s Dracula; simply put Argento was going for a tribute to Hammer’s Dracula films, you know the ones that starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Specifically, Argento’s Dracula plays out a lot like Terrence Fisher’s Horror of Dracula (1958), the very first Hammer Dracula film, it even uses that idea that Terrence Fisher used in Horror of Dracula were Jonathan Harker travels to Dracula’s castle to function as a librarian. The film feels like it’s trying to be purposely old school, right down to this silly sounding Halloween soundtrack that it has. The film looks and feels pretty much like a Hammer film, the difference lies in the graphic gore which was something that Hammer films never dabbled too deeply into. I mean, Hammer films had their blood, but they were never too graphic, not like Argento’s Dracula which goes over the top at some points. That’s right my friends, on this one Argento amps up the levels of gore, which is always fun in my book. There’s this moment where Dracula goes nuts and starts slicing off heads like there’s no tomorrow, I have to admit, those were some cool scenes. But gore alone does not make a good horror film; we gotta have other things thrown in there, like for example some common sense, which Argento has always loved to throw out the window. Did you ever think you’d end up seeing Dracula transform into a giant Praying Mantis? No? Well, after you see Argento’s Dracula you can scratch that one off your bucket list!
So this film has enough gore and nonsensical elements to get the fan boys talking on the net, what else do we need to make this one stand out? Oh yeah, how about some good old fashion nudity? Well, there’s tons of it as well. I mean, five minutes into the film two young lovers are making out in a barn and there’s flesh everywhere! If you ever wanted to get a good look at Asia Argento’s nakedness, this is your chance! Don’t worry about it, her dad is okay with it, he’s the film’s director! So yeah, this one has all the shocking elements necessary to get fan boys attention. Problem is that along with all these ‘goodies’ we get some really terrible elements to this film, which sadly brings it really down or makes it cheesier, which some folks don’t mind. For example, the computer animation is just freaking terrible. God! How can a director like Argento look at this footage and say “were good to go”? I mean, the digital stunt doubles on this one? So laughable! But then again, even the real actors are terrible! There’s this actress that plays Mina Harker (Marta Gastini), she has these scenes where Dracula and her are all emotional about their love for one another and all that…you should see that scene, it’s the most shameless rip off! She’s imitating Wynona Ryder in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)! She uses the same facial gestures, the same everything, her performance was Xeroxed, it made me want to puke because it was such a shameless copy/paste! Asia Argento herself turns in a terrible performance, but she was never much of an actress if you ask me. Not even Rutger Hauer can save this one, sorry.
Overall, even though this movie isn’t what I’d call a good Argento film, I’d say that it retains a certain cheesy watchability to it which reminded me of another one of Argento’s goofy yet enjoyable films: The Phantom of the Opera (1998). Argento’s Dracula is a train wreck of a film, but it’s a fun train wreck. It has all the things you’d expect in a Dracula film, the full moon, the spooky woods, the mist, the castles, the big breasted vampire ladies, crosses, stakes, coffins and lots of blood! It really is trying to be an old fashioned horror movie, and I have to give it props for that. It’s kind of like a modern day Hammer film, but cheesy to the max, with bad dialog and acting, and Argento’s unique brand of weirdness. For example, Argento’s obsession with insects returns! I’ve already mentioned the giant Praying Mantis, but he also plays with some images he’d played with before in Phenomena (1985), namely, a horde of insects swarming outside of a house. Yup, on this one Dracula can also turn into a bunch of flies! In many ways, this is a fun movie, because hearing this dialog is a trip, but also because it’s trying so hard to be spooky and old school that it’s kind of endearing in that way. I’d say this one would make a fun watch come Halloween night, but that’s all its good for because no matter how hard it might try, Dracula 3-D won’t be reminding you of Argento’s glory days; those days are long, long gone.
Rating: 2 out of 5