Bram Stoker’s Dracula movie review
I love the highly stylized drama that is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The amazing performances and directing keep bringing me back to this movie even 20 years later. So… yeah. I like this movie.
To be clear, I am reviewing only what the movie provides – I have not read the novel!
As for this flick… wow, this movie is crazy. I love the visuals, but there are some crazy ones (blood vomit!) and images that sorta serve story points (Lucy’s left boob just refuses to stay covered… I’m not complaining, but it is trying to escape), but are probably not necessary. There’s plenty of rape to go around for everybody… or, at least equal opportunity for rape for both sexes (I maintain Jonathan was raped by Dracula’s Brides and Lucy was raped by Dracula despite her being “a willing convert” or whatever Van Helsing says). I wish I could put a critical spin on what this movie is saying about sex… but I can’t. Frankly, I don’t understand what is happening (beyond the idea that there is some sort of seductive power that vampires use on their prey), so I’ll just say it’s weird, but I’m a simple creature, and there are boobs so… I dunno. There’s something happening there, I’m not sure it’s good, I kinda think they’re bribing me with boobs… something.
But for the most part, I like this movie for the visuals (I love the transitions, the fading in/out of things, Dracula’s shadow, Vlad’s impalings, the eyes…) and the performances. I love the way Gary Oldman plays that first scene in the chapel when he sees his dead wife… and the first time he’s going to bite Lucy… and in his old man makeup that I know nobody likes but me… oh and – OK, I’ll stop now. Gary Oldman is great – I’ll leave it at that.
Of course, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Cary Elwes, Tom Waits and Sadie Frost are an impeccable supporting cast.Ryder’s transformation from dutiful fiancee to vampire who remembers her passed life is incredible. Keanu Reeves is everymaning it as hard as he can while Anthony Hopkins does the wise old sage thing. Cary Elwes does his best with what little he has to work with (he somehow has even less to use than Keanu) and Tom Waits is around to tell you that the scenery tastes delicious. (“I’ve only ever served you, master!”)
The story… I like the story overall. Dracula felt betrayed after his wife’s suicide and is then cursed of his own volition. Then, we time jump to the end of the nineteenth century where Dracula is buying land in London… for some reason. (Does he already know about Neena before he meets Jonathan and sees her photo? Or has he just decided that he has a taste for English? And is buying specific properties in London… because… I dunno.) The point is, he goes to London, he does what he does to Lucy because he’s f@cking Dracula, man, but he’s nice to Neena because she’s the reincarnation of his wife. I love Dracula’s conflict with God; how he feels betrayed that he fought for God against the Turks and his wife dies, but then, it is even worse as he, on some level, hates the monster he has become. Finally, when Neena seems to remember her past life and becomes a vampire (almost – she certainly has some of the powers by the end of the film), there’s the fantastic chase (although we really don’t need Anthony Hopkins to explain their racing against the sunset – it’s clear enough) and there’s that awesome moment when Dracula bursts out of the box (I guess they used that trick a few times) and the finale in the chapel: I love that Neena asks Jonathan if he’ll cut off her head like the did to Neena, but when it comes down to it, she decapitates Dracula because when you love someone, you have to see it through to the end. Then there’s that final image of the painting; Dracula and his wife in heaven. When you take this with the chapel restoring itself to the state before Vlad swore revenge, this is the curse being lifted and both of their souls saved from damnation… It’s a happy ending! At least that’s how I’ve always felt. Sure, there’s lots of bits here and there that are weird, confusing or just don’t work, but the overall narrative works just fine. The tone is so strong that the details just don’t matter.
For me, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of those movies that never get old. It might not be perfect, but it’s close enough to classic as far as I’m concerned. It’s a different kind of old fashioned; this movie is pre digital, so there’s no silly blood spurts, but the movie is obviously filmed on sound stages, so it has an inorganic quality that kinda links it with the old black and white Universal horror movies. (On the other hand, the fact that they filmed it on stages let them control every aspect of the flick – especially production design and light – to great effect.) Long story short (too late), check this flick out and if it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, give Bram Stoker’s Dracula a rewatch. I love it just as much now as I did when I was a kid.
Posted on March 23, 2015, in movie review and tagged action movies, anthony hopkins, Bram Stoker, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Cary Elwes, Count Dracula, Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola, Gary Oldman, horror film, keanu reeves, movies, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits, Vampires, Van Helsing, Winona Ryder. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.