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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 27.59%
Average: 10.34%
Pretty Bad: 12.07%
Total Crap: 10.34%

4 reviews, 92 user ratings

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Dracula (1992)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"It remains probably the most-fun-to-watch Dracula film."
4 stars

According to legend, Bram Stoker got his initial inspiration for Dracula after waking from a nightmare induced by eating some bad shellfish. Francis Ford Coppola might have had the same dish before cooking up "Bram Stoker's Dracula," a gray blur of a movie with the puzzling logic of dreams.

Coppola's approach takes some getting used to: Parts of the movie could be titled My Own Private Transylvania, with surreal images bumping together; some moments (a woman raped by a snarling wolfman incarnation of Dracula) are borderline stupid. Yet it hangs together, this feverish mish-mash, and if it occasionally stumbles while trying for grandeur, at least it tries.

Unlike the book, the film opens under the red skies of 15th-century Transylvania, where the noble Prince Vlad Dracul the Impaler (Gary Oldman) shoves spears into Turks on the battlefield, leaving their impaled bodies wriggling by the road in the name of Christ. (Coppola and screenwriter James V. Hart take a decidedly generous view of Vlad, on whom Stoker is widely -- some say erroneously -- believed to have based Dracula, and who is considered one of the most vicious rulers in history.) Returning home, Vlad finds his wife dead, a suicide: She'd received false word that he died in battle. What's more, because she took her own life, her soul is damned. "I renounce God!" shrieks Vlad as gouts of blood pour forth from a giant cross. Eager to join his beloved in hell, Vlad catches some blood in a chalice, gulps it down, and begins his reign as Dracula, Prince of Darkness.

After this entertainingly melodramatic prologue (with its echoes of Excalibur, Kurosawa, and so on), Coppola gets around to the events of the book. Four centuries later, the aged Dracula shuffles through his ornate and crumbling castle, his face pale and creased with wrinkles, his long, spidery fingers reaching, reaching. Wearing a wig that makes his head resemble a large valentine, Gary Oldman has a grand time camping it up through layers of prosthetics. He puts on a creaky, preposterously theatrical Romanian accent; if bats could talk, they'd sound like Oldman's Dracula. When the young real-estate agent Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) arrives at Castle Dracula to finalize a deal with the Count, the old vampire offers him a cheery yet ominous greeting: "Enter freely and of your own veel. And leef some of da hoppiness you breeng."

The young, callow Harker isn't up to dealing with Dracula, and neither is the young, callow Reeves, who gives an embarrassing performance. Reeves carries too much contemporary baggage to be credible in a 19th-century milieu, and his English accent is about as persuasive as Kevin Costner's in Robin Hood. Luckily, we don't see much of him, though he keeps a straight face in the film's loopiest scene. When Dracula's trio of voluptuous brides descend on Harker, they bare their fangs and begin sucking every inch of his upper body. As if anticipating our own wayward thoughts about where this is going, Coppola has one of the brides move her mouth somewhere south of Harker's belt buckle. (He responds like a proper, horrified, and suddenly quite interested Victorian gentleman.) It's one of many moments that teeter between the queasy, the erotic, and the hilarious.

Taking the prologue a step further, Coppola turns Harker's fiancée Mina (Winona Ryder) into a reincarnation of Dracula's lost love. Hence Dracula's obsession with Mina, and hers with him. Following Mina to London, Dracula, now youthful and handsome, seduces her in a peep-show joint (a bizarre scene -- the flowering of evil at the birth of cinema). Oldman and Ryder manage some heat in their S & M couplings; for a few scenes, the movie becomes about a kinky couple that's into biting. But this smooth, dashing Dracula is a bit dull compared with the elderly, cackling Count; Oldman, in the movie's first section, has stolen his own thunder. Whenever Coppola cuts to the bug-eating Renfield (Tom Waits, growling impressively) or to the dedicated, slightly demented vamp-slayer Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins, chewing the scenery and spitting it out), the audience is so starved for over-the-top acting that it perks up immediately.

Coppola, however, never stops putting on his own showboat performance. His Dracula isn't like anything else around. He presents the material with a certain heaviosity, as if this weren't just a vampire movie but the vampire movie. Going for the gold medal in sepulchral gloom, he lays on the darkness, the pea-soup fog. The characters step into suffocating shadows, never to emerge again. The atmosphere of evil spreads like a stain across the frozen countryside. The white, white faces of the vampire women -- including Mina's doomed friend Lucy (the touching Sadie Frost) -- hover in the dark, grinning. When Dracula first sees a picture of Mina, his shadow demonstrates what he'd like to do to his rival Harker, while he himself stands still.

All of which makes for a movie of considerable visual fascination, and I'd like to see Bram Stoker's Dracula one or two more times, despite minor misgivings; it strikes me as the sort of intoxicating spectacle that improves upon repeated viewings, like Brazil or Blade Runner. Flaws and all, Coppola has pulled off a genuine achievement here: He's redefined the way we think of Dracula visually. And I've figured out why the movie looks so dark and jumbled: This is the way a vampire, in his blood fever, might see the world.

If you want the Dracula story straight, with no frills or sketchily drawn characters, read Bram Stoker's "Dracula." If you want dazzling images and the thrill of watching a major director push the envelope of fantasy film, see "Bram Stoker's Dracula."

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originally posted: 12/28/06 07:30:12
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User Comments

12/17/18 Ajpwales Olman was good movie was average. Not chilling. 3 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell visionary but very overrated 1 stars
5/22/17 David Hollingsworth Forget about Keanu, and you have a sublime masterwork. 5 stars
9/15/13 Lestat Greatest vampire movie ever; Gary Oldman is perfect as my Lord and Master, Count Dracula 5 stars
11/20/11 Andi Movie sucks ass, its terrible and has aged awfully. Best parts are the smut scnes. 1 stars
6/06/11 art GOOD GRIEF,everyone is so HAMMY in this HORROR flick! 1 stars
6/27/10 stevie68a One of my all time favorite movies. 5 stars
2/26/10 art best drac was DAVID NIVEN in OLD DRACULA! 1 stars
2/14/10 brian Suitably overwrought and Gothic, gorgeous and inspiring at times, but Keanu is truly awful. 3 stars
1/19/09 Fruitcake angel Visually gorgeous and fun. Mina and Lucy look wonderful in those lovely dresses... 5 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Scary Film! 5 stars
4/14/08 Alex The Best 5 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White unless you read the book first you're lost, shallow 2 stars
12/20/07 Mary Don't care about makeup, effects etc. Script sucks=movie sucks. I miss Lugosi. 1 stars
11/16/07 mahmoud good movie 5 stars
9/26/07 David Cohen Loud and graphic, a dose of subtlty could have made it great 3 stars
9/10/07 Jubei There are only two seminal vampire movies: Nosferatu and this Dracula.Respects to Lugosi. 5 stars
7/30/07 me they wernt real bats they were pretending 1 stars
6/22/07 Dan I wish I could give it 4 1/2 stars. Reeves was the lone drawback to an otherwise great film 4 stars
4/16/07 Dark Enchantress one of the best! 5 stars
3/08/07 dbx Frankly awesome. But if you have no stomachfor gothic romance/fantasy - avoid. 5 stars
2/17/07 Vip Ebriega One of the best'Draculas' out there. 4 stars
12/26/06 Darth Vader gr8 movie. did u guys notice that monica belluci plays in it? YES,she's naked in it 4 stars
9/22/06 Booksworm What, are you poeple high?Do you seriously expect me to believe that you have read the book 5 stars
3/30/06 SushiLover Stylish, Sexy, Great Performances 5 stars
3/24/06 UndeadCaleb All who hate this movie can get bent 5 stars
3/24/06 Dethbyhashi Greatest adaptation to the Novel 5 stars
3/24/06 BlackCat scary and sexy 5 stars
2/24/06 TB Need to get rid of romance and a great Dracula film 5 stars
12/28/05 Matt Terrible script, D-grade acting, flaws galore, pretty good makeup job 1 stars
12/20/05 Indrid Cold Seems wrong to give it less than a 4, but the plot is bad to the point of being silly. 4 stars
9/13/05 Total Crap The most gothic movie out there. Love the cover. 5 stars
8/13/05 ES I liked the suit of armour he wears for five seconds in the beginning= everything else bad 1 stars
8/06/05 Pierre Still haven't gotten the bad taste out of my mouth. Good director, bad movie. 1 stars
5/12/05 norma this flm was well directed, the stars were well chosen and it deserves all the credit it g 5 stars
4/22/05 J K Rowling best dracula movie, not too bright though 4 stars
2/25/05 dbx one of my favorite movies; deliciously excessive, gary oldman is hot. 5 stars
2/15/05 J. Elaine Greenup solid 4 stars
1/29/05 Mmmm...Blood Oldman is Dracula 5 stars
1/29/05 Who is... Invasio? The Irresistable Force! Dracula is the real Irresistable force. Invasio barely compares 5 stars
1/29/05 Dracula This the best adaptation of my undead life! Blah! 5 stars
1/29/05 Cave Dweller Amazing movie 5 stars
1/29/05 Calebx Awesome Dracula movie 5 stars
1/29/05 DethbyHashi The greatest vampire film ever 5 stars
1/23/05 revenge of the poo-nuggets MAAAAAAGOOOBAHHHHHHHH 5 stars
12/15/04 Tom Benton Could have been better, much too erotic - but very well-done nonetheless. Oldman is great. 4 stars
11/18/04 chris some great bits in it 4 stars
11/09/04 Clare Scally The greatest film ever made! Gary Oldman looks gorgeous! 5 stars
8/26/04 American Slasher Goddess Very dull with uninvolving characters and storyline. 1 stars
6/25/04 Karen Stockdale Terrifically filmed if a little overacted at times. Oldman is wonderful!!! 4 stars
5/08/04 Pagan Excellent film John Robertson has no idea whats hes on about, fucking fool 5 stars
2/09/04 danielle it's my favorite movie 5 stars
11/28/03 john lots of camera tricks can't hide terrible casting and bad script 2 stars
11/25/03 Thiago This one will never be forgotten. A classic. 4 stars
10/25/03 Danny I think it is one of the best vamp movies so far 4 stars
7/04/03 Dave Hopman Not scary, but still a very good movie, although it's not very faithful to the book. 4 stars
4/05/03 Jack Sommersby Unscary and uninvolving. More concerned with f/x than story and character. 1 stars
11/22/02 brianna bah! its ok, but not a patch on the novel... 3 stars
11/20/02 Uncle Salty Two words: Overdone. (I know it's only one but, just say it twice.) 2 stars
9/30/02 Charles Tatum Overacted costume drama, Dracula without scares?? 3 stars
8/04/02 Edler False advertizing. This don't follow the book at all! It sucks wang! 1 stars
5/11/02 Butterbean I love Oldman, Coppola,and vampire flicks but I was very disappointed here. 2 stars
2/06/02 Nevz this film is pretty shallow, could of done better. 2 stars
1/06/02 Rhonda Fricker one of the best movies I have seen..Gary Oldman is amazing 5 stars
1/05/02 kevin very good nice compliment to john 5 stars
12/10/01 john linton roberson Awful postmodern failure.More dated than any version;painful to watch. 2 stars
10/17/01 Evil Kittie THis movie kicked ass!!1 5 stars
10/14/01 E-Funk One of Coppola's best. Visually stunning and horrifically entertaining. 5 stars
8/19/01 Andrew Carden Very Crazy Remake Of Dracula. Like A Roller Coaster Ride. 4 stars
7/27/01 Miguel Nuno Montes For me, one of the best movies of all time!! 5 stars
7/27/01 TLsmooth Keanu sucks ass but Oldman is fucking awesome. Ryder is a slut. 4 stars
4/03/01 Ro Ryder and Reeve are miscast and Van Helsing's written wrong. Apart from that - delicious! 4 stars
1/25/01 Kat Best Dracula movie ever!!!!!!!!!!!! Gary Oldman is the best actor ever! 5 stars
1/09/01 Keanuette A sumptuous gothic flick! Keanu as Harker was a good choice, Shame about the accent.... 5 stars
11/14/00 The EVIL Penguin a stunning feast for your eyes, but stilory 4 stars
10/08/00 matthew didn't like at first viewing, but grew on me 4 stars
9/18/00 Tom McCullough Yes, it is scary, and incredible to look at and listen to on a good home theater system. 5 stars
5/18/00 Creeper Not scary, more romance than the novel, but an incredible film. 5 stars
12/04/99 PervertedPixie Funky, horney goth flick. The English actors piss on the Americans. 5 stars
11/15/99 Sherif Nashaat A touching story of love amid a visually stunning atmoshere. Complete Genius. 5 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan This is not Bram Stoker's Dracula. It's Barbara Cartland's Dracula. Oldman sucks anyway. 2 stars
9/22/99 Kandinsky Agree with that "Victorian MTV" comment...only good part is Waits as Renfield 2 stars
9/12/99 the Grinch Disagree w/ JLR's vampire purism. Coppola used no modern filmaking techniques...very worthy 4 stars
8/25/99 jeff heath pretty entertaining, great cast. 4 stars
8/15/99 Elizaveta Gary Oldman makes this excellent film into an absolutely astounding experience! 5 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Pretty good 4 stars
1/09/99 Thorn Silvertree Severely flawed, but VISUALLY! What a FEAST! 5 stars
11/28/98 Mr.Pink Only Oldman shows something of a performance. Some stunning visuals, though........ 3 stars
11/24/98 Lord Of The Dunce I hate vampire films, but Oldman was superb. 5 stars
11/18/98 MinxxDaShorty I love this film, it puts me in a trance every time i watch it! 5 stars
11/13/98 Jules Alright, it has faults, but it's PURE FILM MAGIC!!! 5 stars
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  13-Nov-1992 (R)



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