Bram Stoker's classic story is given a frightful telling when strangers are strangely drawn to a castle atop mysterious mountains in Eastern Europe. Will the strangers be lured into a life of eternal service into Count Dra... more »cula's army of bloodsuckers? Will Dracula's curse be prolonged?System Requirements:RUNTIME 1 hour 50 minutes Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: HORROR UPC: 012236108634 Manufacturer No: 10873« less
Stephen B. O'Blenis | Nova Scotia, Canada | 08/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Dracula legend is retold once again, but in a movie that's anything but a superfluous addition to the legion of adaptations of the original Stoker novel. In fact, this just May be the best Dracula movie ever made.
An otherwise perfect movie is hardly hampered by a single flaw that takes maybe 25 seconds of screen time in a long-running movie, but I fear a lot of people are going to zero in on that one hitch to the exclusion of the rest of the movie, so I'll touch on it now. This is a highly ambitious show, with a lot of special effects, and most of them are done impeccably - except the transformation scenes. Knowing how many people are ardently anti-CGI, I have to hope this doesn't get blown out of proportion (for the record, I've never understood the big pro-CGI/anti-CGI debate anyway. They're just a tool, like make-up effects or animatronics, sometimes done exceptionally, sometimes done poorly and often somewhere in between). In defence of the efects team, I noticed in the ending credits that there was a very small number of people working on the total effects, whereas a project this grand in scope usually has large teams for each individual aspect of the effects. "Dracula's Curse" was a European made-for-tv movie, so the budget wouldn't have been in the tens of millions. Given what the financial limitations probably were, it's absolutely breathtaking what they've managed to create with this epic, a movie that aside from a mere 25 seconds or so of not great (and not atrocious, either, I should add) transformations looks and sounds as good as "Lord Of The Rings", "Freddy Vs. Jason" or "Star Wars". Stunning production values throughout, a testament to how to make this kind of grand film.
This version of the legend features the characters who usually take the supporting roles and bring them up on par with the traditional 'main' players, with Lucy and Arthur in particular getting more of the center stage than usual. It also has the most likable characterizations of the cast, with Johnathan Harker and Prof. Van Helsing coming off far better than they did in, say, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" where the unsymathetic nature of Van Helsing in particular acted one of a couple of minor drags on an otherwise stellar movie. That's not a criticism of Anthony Hopkins's performance of the character by the way, it's just that for a character who supposedly has devoted much of his life to defending the innocent and battling evil through faith and corage, he seemed awfully cold and rather devoid of compassion in the Coppola version. Here Van Helsing is more interesting and far easier to empathise with, especially as he finds his faith and will being tested to their limits as he encounters an evil that even his extensive travels into the world's most mysterious corners have not prepared him for. I like the character so much I'm even willing to forgive his 'what better place to hide than....' statement which would have normally set my paranoid mind seething at this seeming trivialization of two of my favorite artforms. This Van Helsing gets away with it though. Mina is excellent, different from the also-excellent depiction of her seen in the Coppola version, quite close to her conterpart in 1979's "Nosferatu Der Vampyre" but not a clone of that version. Lucy is, as mentioned, one of the scene-stealers. One thing I like about this version is that this time around Lucy isn't portrayed as weaker than Mina; she fares less well against Dracula because she has no forewarning of what's coming, whereas the others have the opportunity to know something of what they're up against. Here she and Mina are both in exemplary form. Speaking of Lucy - I mentioned earlier the shortcomings in the visuals of the transformations; the visual of Muriel Baumeister as a mesmerised Lucy walking through the night in a translucent nightgown, her form and the scantiest of underwear visible in the glow of the overhead lights, makes up for the previous visual underachievings twentyfold. If that doesn't cut it for you the goregeous shots of the magnifient snowcapped mountains off in the distance as Johnathan rides through Europe towards Romania also make up for the weak transformations. There are all different kinds of beauty in here to captivate the senses.
And all kinds of darkness as well, which brings us to the title character. Dracula usually, despite his evil, has a sympathetic angle to him, best represented by Gary Oldman's already legendary performance in "Bram Stoker's Dracula". Not so here. Outstandingly played by Patrick Bergen, this Dracula retains the charisma but not the glimmers of redeeming virtue. This is one of the scariest forms of evil - he knows he's evil and he's completely at peace with it as he prepares to usher in an apocalypse. Frightening and hypnotic.
Quick notes before I run out of wordage - for once the deleted scenes are essential; these Really should have been re-incorporated into the main movie (I'm guessing they were cut for time reasons in the original cable airing). They expand Renfield's role greatly, and more importantly they present some supporting characters cut entirely from the main movie, the type of characters horror Has to get more of in - positive roles for Roma (aka Gypsies), who were so maligned with ridiculous negative stereotypes in so much early horror that our genre really kind of owes it to them to bring in some tales with Rom characters as the main protagonists. Also a really horrifying deleted scene is here.
One thing could have been explained better - a lot of Dracula's activities seem to go strangely unnoticed by the city at large. I'm guessing that his mastery of dark magic sort of semi-wards him and makes him 'slippery to notice' unless he either wants you to or you're conciously aware of events and therefore looking for him. The lack of clear explanation in this case could lead to confusion for some who haven't seen this kind of angle used in horror before.
Truly Outstanding movie, one of the best, and definately the sexiest of the Dracula movies I've seen. In addition to some other great Dracula material out there I'd also recommend the following vampire movies (most in very different veins than this one) - "Underworld Extended Edition", "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter", "Near Dark", "Blood: The Last Vampire" (horror anime); "From Dusk 'Til Dawn", and "Innocent Blood" ( a horror comedy whose contrasting elements actually compliment rather than dilute each other)."
Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 02/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"DRACULA'S CURSE is a made for European TV updating of the classic Bram Stoker novel. Director Roger Young has some imaginative sequences and in spite of a rather mediocre cast, the film modernizes the novel interestingly enough and it provides few scares but an interesting cerebral horror experience. Hardy Kruger Jr. (son of Hardy Kruger of "Hatari") is a little wooden as Jonathan Harker, but his performance is earnest. Patrick Bergin isn't compelling enough as Dracula, but he's not horrible, he's just had so many other actors to compare with. The rest of the cast (other than International favorite Giancarlo Giannini) is made up of unknowns (at least to most American audiences) but the guy who plays Quincy is interesting, and the young lady who plays Lucy is beautiful and quietly seductive. All in all, not a bad rendition of this overkilled vampire."
This is the 'short' version...
William M. Wass | SAUNDERSTOWN, RI USA | 10/14/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a fairly well-made and up-dated version of the classic "Dracula" - featuring excellent sets/locations with quite a few imaginative camera angles throughout... but to fully enjoy this production you really should seek out the full-length 3 hour (TV mini-series) version available in Europe."
Not what I had expected....
J. Bilby | Kingston, New Hampshire United States | 04/29/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Rented this for a Saturday nite chiller thriller. I realize this was a tv movie from Europe with a limited budget but putting a modern spin on this classic tale didn't have much bite. I couldn't get past the way these actors came across, felt like they were reading their scripts to each other. There really wasn't much in the scare dept. a few good sets here and there doesn't make a good film and this one fell short in every way. Three stars is more than it deserves. "
An edited version of an Italian min-series that updates Drac
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/30/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Dracula's Curse" is a 102-minute truncated version of the 163-minute Itallian television mini-series "Il Bacio di Dracula" ("The Kiss of Dracula"), which retells Bram Stoker's gothic horror story in the modern day setting of Budapest. This time Jonathan Harker (Hardy Krüger Jr.) is an investment banker working in Eastern Europe who has become engaged to Mina Murray (Stefania Rocca), and is celebrating with his friends, English diplomatic official Arthur Holmwood (Conrad Hornby), businessman Quincy Morris (Alessio Boni), and the funny loving Lucy Westerner (Muriel Baumeister). After the ball and a quick spin in his new sports car, Harker has a late night meeting the Vladislav Tepes (Patrick Bergin), who wants Harker to work for his "uncle." Meanwhile, at the local insane asylum, Dr. Seward (Kai Wiesinger) is dealing with one of his patients, Roenfield (Brett Forest).
Of course those well-versed in the lore of vampires in general and Dracula in particular will recognize the variation of Vlad Tepes as being the name of the "real" Dracula of history, the Wallachian prince known as the Impaler. What threw me at first was the whole bit about Dracula's uncle, because the whole idea that Dracula becomes younger as he gets new blood that we have seen in the past (e.g., "Bram Stoker's Dracula"), is abandoned this time. Not only does Bergin play both Tepes, we go back and forth from the younger to the older throughout. This becomes problematic because the older Vladislav is the more imposing and interesting figure of the two, especially since the younger one smacks too much of James Bond at time. At least the older one has something of a Romanian accent (most of the time, anyhow).
The basic narrative of Stoker's novel is intact, with the other glaring difference besides bringing the story a century into the future being that Abraham Van Helsing is now replaced by Dr. Enrico Valenzi (Giancarlo Giannini). He proves to be the one character that works well in the 21st century, mainly because the teleplay by Eric Lener and director Roger Young allows him to discuss the existence of vampires from a 21st century perspective. However, the resent of the vampire hunters are just young plastic types who would rather be partying, driving fast cars, or running around half-dressed in the middle of the night. There are times when I was reminded of "Dark Shadows," but this soap opera is not as compelling. The authority that Valenzi holds over the group ends up being by default, because he is smarter than all of them put together. Well, the guys, for sure, since Mina has some moments.
Granted, we are watching a mini-series that has had an hour chopped off of it, and I have seen what that has done to even great mini-series like "Shogun" when that sort of butchery happens. So it could well be that "Il Bacio di Dracula" in its entirety is superior to "Dracula's Curse." Then again, it could be that what was cut was more of the soap opera elements that disengage our interest. Ultimately, the paradox of "Dracula's Curse" is that while it indeed convinces us that a modern retelling of the original Dracula story can work, this movie version of the mini-series does not carry it off. For every scene that makes you sit up because things are getting interesting and well-played, there are two scenes where things are going backwards (often involving characters floating and/or Bergin opening and closing his cape). The end result is that while this version is of some intellectual interest, "Dracula's Curse" lacks enough of a pulse for it to be anything more than a curiosity to fans of vampire flicks."