Kiss Me Dracula
Written by Silvia Specchio
Performed by Claudio Simonetti See more »
"Dracula 3D"- Oh, boy...
I may not be the biggest fan of famed Italian horror director Dario Argento, but I definitely have nothing but the utmost respect for he and his contributions to the world of cinema. He's done some incredibly work and his style is the sort-of thing that movie-goers dream of and film students salivate over. So I loaded up his recent 3D adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" with a certain sense of intrigue. I saw an early concept trailer some time ago that looked woefully bad, but it was clearly unfinished, so I opted not to judge the film by its quality. I needed to see the entire completed film start-to-finish to be fair and balanced in my assessment.
...I should have just stuck with the trailer. It had all the camp and unintentional hilarity of the finished film, but none of the prolonged and shockingly boring padding.
"Dracula 3D" might just be one of the worst adaptations of the character I've ever seen thanks to the nonsensically and bizarrely awful production. While lead Thomas Kretschmann salvages what he can in a surprisingly decent performance, the film just implodes around him. Forget what you've heard about the incompetent craftsmanship, laughable visual effects and amateurish direction, because despite what you might suspect... it's far worse than what you might have imagined. Nothing will quite prepare you for just how poor this work is in virtually every conceivable sense.
The film predominately follows Mina Harker (Marta Gastini), as she travels to the village of Passo Borgo at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains sometime after her husband Jonathan (Unax Ugalde) was sent to meet Count Dracula for business. Soon enough, she encounters the vampire count (Thomas Kretschmann), who is entranced by her resemblance to his beloved Dolinger- who had died some centuries ago. And it soon becomes clear that he desires Mina for a dark and devious purpose. And so, Mina must team with famed vampire hunter Van Helsing (Rutger Haur) to try and stop the vile vampire lord...
The film is an absolute trainwreck. The quality of filmmaking is shocking, with very little effort put into basic facets of production like frame composition and flow, and a complete lack of post- production tweaking like color- timing or pacing. Most sequences are constructed with only the most basic of set-ups; poorly framed with one or two cameras simply set- down somewhere vaguely near the action on tripods with a complete lack of cinematic lighting or eye towards capturing the scene dynamically. It feels completely thrown together without interest. Completely apathetic. And outside of maybe mildly tinting scenes vaguely a dark blueish- green during the night or lazily brightening the image with a mild yellow "tinge" for daytime scenes, it seems no effort was put into trying to manipulate the cinematography. The editing is also inorganic and lacks any sense of real flow, lending to the film feeling bloated and boring despite being less than two hours long. There's plenty that could have been done to improve the speed at which scenes play out, but the lack of effort prevents this.
The effects? My god, the effects! This was a 2012 film, but it boasts digital trickery about on par with a 1992 TV-movie. I know not to expect "Avatar" quality digital trickery, but when an early green- screen sequence at a train-station actually boasts some of the same stock background elements I got for free online over five years ago, lazily patched together with no treatment to blend them realistically, you know the effects are gonna be something else... in all the wrong ways. Digital creatures all move with hilariously inorganic motion and shine like plastic. Green-screen sequences look cartoonish and completely unreal. And then there's the Mantis. If you've seen the trailer, you know what I'm talking about. It might be the worst digital effects sequence I've ever seen. It comes out of nowhere, lacks any set-up or pay-off and looks like something out of a children's cartoon. It might be the single most unintentionally hilarious thing ever committed to the screen.
Add to that flat performances from the bulk of the cast, forgettable music that fails to thrill or enthrall, atrocious cinematography and some of the most bland screen writing I've ever had the misfortune of witnessing, and you got yourself one of the most perplexing failures in recent cinematic memory. If it weren't for one or two decent roles performed by actors far too talented to be here, the unintentional humorous moments of camp that crop up here and there and gorgeous co-star Miriam Giovanelli's penchant to be nude for much of the run- time, it'd be unwatchable. Argento... you're a talented man. And you've made some phenomenal films. But crap like this won't do.
"Dracula 3D" barely scoots by with a 2 out of 10. If you want some laughs, maybe pop it on. But even then, they're few and far in- between, and the bulk of the film is just an incoherent, incompetent, boring mess.
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