In the late 90’s and early part of the new millennium there was a movement that began slowly and swelled that continues to this day. The re-imagining , the remake. No genre was immune, no character protected, and no plot spared. Deep Blue Sea, for example is the beginning of a tide of shark movies (pun intended, deal with it) that at the end of the day try to capitalize on that which was the Jaws franchise. Two masters of horror, Wes Craven and John Carpenter were not to be left behind. In 1998 Carpenter released Vampires (review later this month), which added his own unique spin to the vampire mythos. Two years later the much esteemed Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Last House on the Left, and more) decided it was his turn and produced Dracula 2000.
He trusted his name to Writers Joel Soisson and Patrick Lussier, as well as letting an untested Lussier direct the film. The two men have gone on to work on the sequels to the film (yes it has sequels more on that later) and other low budget, mediocre concept, adequately executed horror movies for Dimension films.
They put together an interesting cast of actors no one at the time had heard of but have gone on in the past thirteen years to some interesting careers. Some of you may have heard of the stories hero actor, Johnny Lee Miller (Elementary) who had really only done Hackers with his long since ex-wife Angelina Jolie. There’s a man named Omar Epps who did a little show called House for a few years. Another actor in one of his earliest films and if you are a friend of mine you know him – Nathan Fillion, has a bit part. Then of course there is Dracula himself, this Scottish actors career has only had a few movies you’ve heard of since this, which was his second American, film. I understand that some of you may have seen Gerry Butler in a movie called 300, Phantom of the Opera, Gamer,and How to Train your Dragon. The movie also includes Vitamin C (yes the singer), Jeri Ryan, and the great Christopher Plummer. The great actors in it sell their parts well and the ok actors do their best to keep up making even the worst written moments watchable.
This is the story of an immortal Dracula (Butler) held captive rather than killed by Van Helsing (Plummer) after his reign of terror in London in the late 1800s. He escapes in the modern day due to a group of thieves who are in over their jugulars and free the monster during a misguided robbery. As he explores modern New Orleans – because where else do vampires go? – he tracks down a descendant of his bloodline named Mary (Justine Waddell) who is being protected by Van Helsing’s protege, Simon (Miller).
Now as a vampire lover, I must acknowledge the effects are Ok and that the story as a whole is terribly convenient. What it does do is add something new to the mythos of vampires that I had not seen done prior. As the spoiler statute of limitations has long since expired I will go into it contrary to my more current spoiler free movie reviews. Dracula in this film is Judas Iscariot. What?! I know, it sounds odd, but it made for an interesting story which allowed them to explain why he is vulnerable to silver (if I have to explain the connection, please go read a book :) ), Sunlight, is nominally immortal and despises holy relics. On paper it doesn’t look like it should work ; yet in execution I find that it does. It brings an interesting and new element to the mythologies of the vampire that I truly do appreciate.
The writers, despite some lack of subtlety, also clearly love the original stoker story; even so much as to recognize a single throw away line in the novel. They incorporated many elements of the original novelization into the movie and how they might appear in their modern incarnations for better or worse. Mary Westenra, Dr. Seward, the Demeter and other classic elements all make their presence known. Its even apparent they studied multiple vampire stories from any number of cultures to come to the final resolution of the film. They explore more of this in the next two films, neither of which are particularly good and are only moderately watchable as expected from Dimension films sequel work.
Fight choreography wise..OK lets move on to the TL;DR
Dracula 2000 is in my top 10 vampire movies. It is a truly solid vampire film and adds to the universe in an innovative not derivative way. I do recommend it for those who enjoy vampire films, but if you want scares give it a pass there are only a few to be found.
Tomorrows film never thought werewolves would save them.