BY ANDREW MOODY
Back in the early nineties my family got cable. There were two movie channels back then, and when Coppola’s flawed but in many ways brilliant adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula came on TV, I begged my Dad to let me watch it. I was allowed to watch violent films, just not sexual ones. Dracula is both, so as an eleven year old I felt rather lucky to have been able to watch it. He recorded it for me, and one morning (at around 5am) I snuck downstairs to watch.
One of the most memorable moments for my pubescent self was a topless Monica Belucci and two other vampires sucking blood from Keanu Reeves’ crotch before devouring a newborn baby given to the three succubuses by Gary Oldman’s demonic, ancient Dracula. It seems ironic that at the end of the movie Dracula is forgiven by God for rejecting him, despite evidently being a child murderer.
Coppola was one of the stars of the director-led 1970’s, with masterpieces like The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979) – three masterpieces that still endure today in a post-digital millennial world where even Dracula (1992) counts as an “old movie”. It is one of the first major studio pictures to fully utilise CGI, with incisors that seamlessly grow into fangs.
Horror critic Kim Newman wrote that the movie “sets out simultaneously to deliver a faithful adaptation of the novel and pull the story inside-out to turn a monstrous villain into a romantic hero.”
Oldman, after travelling to London to search for his reincarnated wife Winona Ryder, is handsome and mysterious, and Ryder eventually falls hypnotically under his spell in some rather ludicrous love scenes. The tag line incidentally for the poster was Love Never Dies.
I would argue that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of the most beautiful films ever made, with extraordinary imagery and set design, but would best be watched with the sound off, to stop involuntary giggles from the appalling performances by the cast, especially Keanu Reeves’ bodacious dude attempt at an English upper class accent, and Gary Oldman’s hammy Transylvanian Bela Lugosi impression.
The trend for charismatic killers in the early nineties really began with 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs with Anthony Hopkins’ vampiric Dr Lecter. Incidentally, Hopkins plays Dr Van Helsing in Coppola’s film, and anyone who’s seen it will concede he’s hardly taking the role seriously, seemingly still celebrating his Oscar win for Lambs and his Eastern European accent is just as bad as poor Keanu’s who took all the criticism when the film was originally released to primarily disappointed audiences who had been expecting a masterpiece from a director of such prestige.
Coppola’s film is an ambitious failure, but in today’s progressive, PC nonsense era of CGI Hollywood, making films that appeal to Nobody and are just made to promote a Democratic political agenda, I can see the flawed, fascinating Dracula being a Netflix favourite for years to come. But I’d have to advise again … it really is better with the sound off.
Follow Andrew Moody on Twitter @VoguishFiction