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  Dracula A Lark Worse Than Its Bite
Year: 2012
Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Asia Argento, Rutger Hauer, Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, Unax Ugalde, Miriam Giovanelli, Maria Cristina Heller, Morgane Slemp, Christian Burruano, Guiseppe Le Console, Augusto Zucchi, Riccardo Cicogna, Giovanni Franzoni, Francesco Rossini
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tania (Miriam Giovanelli) is warned by her mother that tonight is Walpurgis Night, so she should lock all the doors and windows and retire to bed early. She agrees, but once her mother has turned in she unlocks the front door and slips out into the darkness of the forest, heading for a small hut across the village. Once there, her lover Milos (Christian Burruano) greets her and they begin their lovemaking, and all is right in their world: that is until it's time for them to go back to their homes, and Tania asks her boyfriend to accompany her but is refused. If only he had agreed...

Yeah, he didn't give her a cross for nothing after all, and the moment she discards it we can tell from the title she'll be receiving two fangs in the jugular on her return trip through the forest. Fair enough, this was a Dracula movie, but what distinguished this one was its director Dario Argento, working in 3D for the first time. Alas, that did not mean he was finally shaking off the poor reaction his career had suffered in its latter half, if anything his take on Bram Stoker was regarded as the lowest point he had yet sunk to. But even his worst efforts had at least some interest, right? If only it was amusement at how terrible they were?

This was terrible all right: terribly boring. Argento had actually made what few would have credited him with creating, and that was a tediously dull movie. Some would have it that the third dimension made all the difference, but with this surplus of downright awful computer graphics (with a non-canon giant praying mantis at one point) and long passages where nothing in particular was happening, it seemed as if his quality control, already pretty shaky, had flown straight out the window. The pacing was so grindingly slow that even when the gory setpieces arrived they would be greeted with a mere shrug instead of offering an injection of much-needed adrenaline.

Our Dracula was Thomas Kretschmann, not a dreadful actor by any means but one scuppered by an apparent desire to emulate both Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, only without their considerable charisma in the role of the Count. As it was, he was stiff and unresponsive, fine for a warmed over corpse, but not the irrestistable force of evil you would have expected, that was when he was on the screen, for as in the novel Drac didn't get a lot of time in the story, though unlike in the novel that time didn't amount to much. On the other hand, Van Helsing was Rutger Hauer, and if this had been made thirty years before the thought of him teaming up with Argento would have been a mouthwatering prospect for cult movie fans.

Unfortunately if anything Hauer was worse than Kretschmann, merely going through the motions with nothing to engage either himself or us; that he only showed up intermittently in the final half hour may have been a blessing in disguise. Asia Argento inevitably appeared, this time as Lucy, seduced by Dracula after he bites her behind her knee (huh?) as her best friend Mina (Marta Gastini) discovers when she bathes her, that's right, another Asia nude scene in a film directed by her father, the only part which might make you uneasy. With Tania the sole vampire bride to be seen, it was clear the production's budget had been splashed on 3D cameras, so pity those who watched it in 2D which rendered the CGI blood and effects embarrassing to witness, unable to pass muster in your average contemporary computer game. This Dracula can turn into an owl, a wolf or some flies, but what he could not turn into was a reason for yet another Stoker adaptation. Claudio Simonetti's music was basic synth stuff.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Dario Argento  (1940 - )

Italian horror maestro who began his film career as a critic, before moving into the world of screenwriting, collaborating most notably with Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci on the script of Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West (1968). Argento's first film as director, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) set the template for much of his subsequent work - inventive camerawork, sly wit, violent murder set-pieces, and a convoluted whodunnit murder plot. He perfected his art in this genre with Deep Red in 1975, before proceeding to direct the terrifying Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), the first two parts of a loose trilogy of supernatural chillers that were finally completed with Mother of Tears in 2007.

Since then, Argento has pretty much stuck to what he knows best, sometimes successfully with Tenebrae and Opera, sometimes, usually in the latter half of his career, less so (Trauma, Sleepless, Dracula), but always with a sense of malicious style.

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