This flick probably makes vampire nuts even crazier. But in its final act, Dracula 2000 (2000, 99 minutes) offers an astonishing take on the true origin of Count Dracula. One expertly steeped in the religious imagery that's so inseparable from vampiric mythology. As a result, it's a picture that has a lot more in common with the gruesome spiritual warfare of the Prophecy series than anything that stuffy Bram Stoker, or even Ann Rice, might have imagined.
The movie: A gaggle of hipster burglars bust into a mini-Fort Knox looking for booty and all they find is a righteous silver coffin that won't be that easy to fence. Being that this is a movie, these folks lug the bulky hunk of metal off anyway with the idea there might be loot inside. Not exactly. Instead they unleash Dracula (Gerard Butler) on the streets of New Orleans conveniently during Mardi Gras. There's a whole lot of plot here, which is a real problem, at least until the last 20 minutes. Captain von Trapp is the vampire hunter out to de-fang Drac before he gets his choppers into this virginal gal coyly named Mary (Justine Waddell). Lest we accuse the filmmakers of blatant subtly, she also just happens to work at Virgin Megastore. Uh huh. For Maybe-She'll-Get-Nekkid value there's the voluptuous Jeri Ryan (that's Six of Nine to horny-toad Trekkies), but tragically, she doesn't. The other vampirettes also try their darnest to look sexy in chaste outfits that certainly won't land them in Celebrity Skin, while simultaneously trying to avoid allowing their phony fangs to shoot across the set. CineSchlockers will savour the abundant decapitations made extra juicy by the brilliant Gary Tunnicliffe.
Notables: Three breasts. 22 corpses. Spooky mist. Whisper talking. Hypodermic closeup. Gratuitous confessional scene. Knife to the eye socket. Heads tumble. Morphing. Incest. Fast mo. Leech attack. Neck munching. Gratuitous vampire hissing.
Quotables: Ms. Ryan hams it up as the slutty tabloid TV reporter, "You getting the crash? You getting the sunset? You getting the tits?" and "So, tell me, you ever dream of making it with a TV star?" Omar Epps cracks wise when confronted by a crucifix, "Sorry, sport, I'm an atheist." Exceedingly sultry Jennifer Esposito's character lets 'em down easy, "You know why you never had me, Simon? Because you Brits like to sweet talk and you Brits like to romance and all I wanna do is SUCK!" Dracula trots out his best pickup line, "We're all so much more complicated than our names." Jonny Lee Miller channels his inner Buffy, "Never ever F@#% with an antiques dealer!"
Time codes: Thieves thwart layers of high-tech security to access untold riches (6:05). Low-tech blood-sucking achieved by merely reversing the footage (14:49). Dracula woos Solina (27:10). Van Helsing dishes Nosferatu lore (44:35). This kinky vampire diddling involves anti-gravity (57:20). The BIG payoff (1:20:05).
Audio/Video: Without fault in both regards. The widescreen (2.35:1) print is pristine and the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very active and intense, but with a solid range that accounts for precise clarity in nearly silent scenes.
Extras: Chummy commentary with director Patrick Lussier and writer Joel Soisson. They don't venture too far from what's on the screen, while also taking time to share anecdotes about story changes and amusing footnotes. A brief but effective behind-the-scenes featurette has interviews with producer Wes Craven and actor Christopher Plummer. An assemblage of eight extended or deleted scenes -- the most notable being an excised Sapphorific smooch between Vitamin C and Ms. Waddell. All scenes include optional audio commentary. Puke-worthy auditions by Butler, Waddell and Ms. C (someone tell them the producers aren't casting Hamlet). Storyboards. Theatrical trailer. Promo spots for The Crow box set, Scream box set, From Dusk Til Dawn box set, Reindeer Games, The Faculty, Immortality, Double Take and the Dracula soundtrack. Static menus without audio.
Final thought: Brilliant take on the genesis of fang boy and the flick oozes with good old fashioned gore, but its stabs at raw sensuality fall limp. Can't wait for a direct-to-video sequel. Recommended.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.