Dracula. Not Myth, Nor Ravings of a Mad Irish Novelist, Oh No, He’s Real: Dracula 2000 (2000)

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Dracula. Dracula: not myth, nor ravings of a mad Irish novelist, oh no. He’s real, I assure you.

A long time ago, AMC used to do Fear Fridays. Every friday night at 8 they would show a horror film, and not stop until early Saturday morning. But then they pushed it back to 9, then 10, then 11, then 12, then 1 am, then 2 am; still calling it Fear Friday although it was actually Saturday morning. And then they just stopped doing it, which deeply saddened me as I saw many a good, creepy film those Friday nights.

Why did it end?

Why did it end?

This however, wasn’t one of those good movies.

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My sister and I saw this on one of those Friday nights and I hated this film. I thought it was dumb, stupid, boring, made no sense and couldn’t hold a candle to Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931). And I vowed to never see it ever again.

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Last week, my friend and I were having a horror film marathon. We saw Once Bitten and then were in the mood for a more serious film. She was going through the list and wanted to see Dracula 2000 as she has never seen it before. I was like

No thank youhowaboutno

She then asked me what the film was about, if I could give her a summary, and I tried to tell her…

Uhhhhhhh

Uhhhhhhh

But I couldn’t remember. The only thing I could think of was that it had Johnny Lee Miller (who played Mr. Knightley in Emma (2009) and Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park (1999) as the regular person thrust in the adventure (the only character I liked); Gerald Butler as Dracula (the reason I watched it the first time) but he was so young that it didn’t even look like him and I hated his character; a weird scene in the record store; and that I hated it. Why did I hate it, I couldn’t remember. The movie must have been so horrible I just wiped it from my memory banks.

Where

Since I couldn’t remember it, and thought maybe I was too harsh a judge, we decided to watch it and see if it was different this go round.

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I HATED IT!

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I thought it was horrible and stupid. So you know what that means! A countdown!!! Yes, let’s go over everything I liked (barely anything) to everything I hated (practically everything!)

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Synopsis:

The film is supposed to be Dracula set in modern times rather than 1831, so the year is 2000. In London, Matthew Van Helsing (Abraham’s descendent) has an antique store in which he is training Simon (Johnny Lee Miller). That night everyone but Matthew goes home, and unbeknownst to him his secretary Solina is part of a ring of thieves that breaks into his vault. They find nothing in there but crosses and a coffin, taking it as it must be valuable.

But something terrible lurks inside.

But something terrible lurks inside.

When Matthew discovers the theft, he goes after them, leaving Simon to watch over the business. However, Simon is worried about his mentor and follows him instead.

The thieves open the coffin and reveal that it is Dracula (Gerald Butler) who turns them all into vampires.

Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them. Van Helsing: Doing them? Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red,l ike his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: "Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!" Van Helsing: What did he want you to do? Renfield: That which has already been done! [giggles sinisterly]

Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them.
Van Helsing: Doing them?
Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red,l ike his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: “Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!”
Van Helsing: What did he want you to do?
Renfield: That which has already been done!
[giggles sinisterly]

He then heads to New Orleans, LA. There lives Mary Heller, a devout Catholic, who has had strange dreams/visions her whole life but they seem worse now than ever before. She keeps seeing this man, unsure of who he is, but us viewers know him as Dracula.

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Simon and Matthew team up and try to destroy the new vampires, Simon originally shocked but after being attacked admits they are real. Matthew then reveals his secret, he is really Abraham Van Helsing, the Van Helsing.

Count Dracula: Van Helsing. [Van Helsing turns to face Count Dracula] Count Dracula: Now that you have learned what you have learned, it would be well for you to return to your own country. Van Helsing: I prefer to remain and protect those whom you would destroy. Count Dracula: You are too late. My blood now flows through her veins. She will live through the centuries to come, as I have lived. Van Helsing: Should you escape us, Dracula. We know how to save Miss Mina's soul if not her life. Count Dracula: If she dies by day. But I shall see that she dies by night. Van Helsing: And I will have Carfax Abbey torn down, stone by stone, excavated a mile around. I will find your earth-box and drive that stake through your heart. Count Dracula: Come here. [Dracula raises his hand to hypnotise Van Helsing] Count Dracula: Come here...Your will is strong, Van Helsing. [Van Helsing reaches out for his crucifix as Dracula looms toward him] Count Dracula: More wolfbane? Van Helsing: More effective than wolfbane, Count. Count Dracula: Indeed. [Dracula lunges towards Van Helsing. Van Helsing holds up the crucifix. Dracula snarls and turns away. Van Helsing, in triumph, puts away the crucifix]

[Dracula lunges towards Van Helsing. Van Helsing holds up the crucifix. Dracula snarls and turns away. Van Helsing, in triumph, puts away the crucifix]

When he discovered nothing worked to kill Dracula, he imprisoned him in a coffin and took his blood to keep him young as he continued to try to find a way to destroy him. He was married and they had a daughter Mary, and in her blood is Dracula’s blood. When he told his wife the whole story, she left him and took his daughter to America.

And run fast

Dracula has lost his male vampires, but has three wives: Solina, the secretary; Valerie, a news reporter; and Lucy, Mary’s best friend. Simon and Helsing split up to look for Mary, Helsing being killed by Dracula and the wives at Mary’s house. Simon finds Mary and they escape, only for Mary to be captured later. Simon tries to help her; but is no match for all the vampires.

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Before Dracula turns Mary into a vampire, he reveals that he is Judas Iscariot and that is why he hates silver and crosses. He tried to hang himself, but the “rope broke” and God turned him into a vampire.

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I know. He turns Mary into a vampire, but I guess her already vampire blood counteracts it as she is not his slave.

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She saves Simon, kills Dracula, and decides to continue the family business (although if she killed Dracula it is over) turning into a female Blade, kinda-sorta.

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So What Was Good?

There was only one thing I liked in this entire film, and that was Johnny Lee Miller’s character, Simon.

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Simon was extremely likable because he was just a regular person thrown into this situation and trying to make sense of it. All his reactions are spot on to when he thinks people are crazy to finally becoming a butt-kicking vampire hunter. He is kind, compassionate, caring, intelligent, and extremely witty.

Marcus: [Simon produces a cross] Sorry sport. I’m an atheist.

Simon Sheppard: [a dagger pops out of the cross’ base] God loves you anyway.

The other thing I like about him was how he represented the everyman or everywoman. Here is a guy who has read old inscriptions, heard stories, studied antique weaponry, etc; but studying and hearing it is much different than having to use it, have the myths be real, and be expected to hunt down vampires. He tries his best as he discovers this new reality, and even though he makes mistakes, all is forgiven as he is us, the viewer, in a sense. I thought he was fun and the best thought out thing in the film.

I like it!

I like it!

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So What Was Bad?

Everything else. Seriously, I mean it. The rest of the film was absolutely horrid.

1) Too Many Stars

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Like Scre4m it is hard to focus on a plot of a film when you are being hit right and left with people who are really famous. In every scene it felt more like a game of “Which Star Will Pop Up Next” rather than watching a film about Dracula. I mean we have Shane West, Christopher Plummer, Johnny Lee Miller, Omar Epps, Nathan Fillion, Vitamin C, etc. When casting you really have to be careful and not have too many recognizable people, or else your audience will be going bug-eyed.

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2) For a Dracula film there isn’t a lot of Dracula in it.

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Dracula is supposed to be about Dracula; but Dracula actually has a small role in this film. And unlike previous films, Dracula wasn’t even played by a big star with top billing; instead they choose Gerald Butler who had very little on his acting resume at the time this film was made. To me that is incredibly strange as he is the main character, THE TITLE CHARACTER. He should be the star, the biggest personality. Instead Dracula has very little dialogue and spends most of his time just creepily staring at people.

He's creepin' in your windows. He's starin' at your people.

He’s creepin’ in your windows. He’s starin’ at your people.

I didn’t like that, not one bit. As much as I disliked Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I did a lot, at least that one knew what to focus on, DRACULA! It was a weird decision made by the writers, and a bad one.

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3) Mary, Mary Quite Boring

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Mary was so boring! I mean it what a yawnfest. All she did was cower, snivel, and act as if she was going to have a breakdown. Her character was bland and completely underdeveloped other than “good”, “Catholic”, and “British”. Now don’t get me wrong, the breakdown character can work but only in films where it is about psychological damage, like Rebecca, Gaslight or Under Capricorn, not a monster movie. In this type of film that kind of behavior is boring!

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4) Taking Blood to Live Longer, Yet He Doesn’t Become a Vampire

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In the book Dracula, the way to have someone become a vampire is to give them vampire blood. In this film Van Helsing keeps transfusing vampire blood into his body to live longer, but doesn’t become a vampire. That makes zero sense! If you ingest vampire blood you are a vampire. Pure and simple.

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5) Dracula is Judas

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Yes. It turns out the reason Dracula hates silver, crosses, bibles, Christianity, etc…is because he is Judas.

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Why would God turn him into a vampire? Why would God create a being that cannot be killed but kill his people making their souls unable to move on? That is just unbelievably dumb.

I mean if the devil was the one who did it, it would still be really dumb, but make a lil’ more sense.

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So yes it was dumb, incredibly dumb. Just stupid and horribly boring. My advice? Just skip it.

And after we finished the film, I asked my friend “What do you think of it?” Her response:

You as in the film

You as in the film

So there you go, not just me.

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To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

For the previous post, go to I’m…a Werewolf: Teen Wolf (1985)

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For more Dracula, go to We’ve Seen Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

For more vampire films, go to I Don’t Want to Be a Vampire. I’m a Day Person: Once Bitten (1985)

For more on Judas Iscariot, go to The Arrest

For more modern remakes, go to Heroes are Not Born, They’re Created: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

For more sucky remakes, go to Every Three Thousand Years, the Stars Align. Unleashing an Army of Monsters: TMNT (2007)

For more Gerald Butler, go to Pot o’ Gold: 17 Irish Heroes

Redone Done Right

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Day 29) Best Disney Remake

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The Jungle Book (1994)

So I’m not a huge fan of the remake. You probably recall seeing this:

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But there are a few films that I truly enjoy that are not the orginal. Such as The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail. But this is probably by far, my favorite disney remake ever.

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So this film came out in the ’90s and is based on The Jungle Book novel by Rudyard Kipling and the Disney film The Jungle Book (1967). It is similar to the cartoon except it is live action and tells the story of an older Mowgli. Actually, this is what Disney’s Tarzan was based on. While Tarzan is not an almost exact scene by scene ripoff,  like Atlantis is of the film Stargate, it is still extremely close.

Anyways, so the film starts off in the Victorian period with a group of English people going through India. They have many Indian guides helping them, one of which is Mowgli’s father Nathoo. Mowgli is one of the few children who is with the group, and his best friend is his wolf cub, Grey Brother. Mowgli soon meets one of the other kids there, Katherine “Kitty” Brydon, daughter of Colonel Geoffrey Brydon who is in charge of the trek and played by none other than the very handsome, Sam Neil.

Mowgli gives Kitty a flower to show his interest in her and Kitty gives him her mother’s bracelet. But the two’s friendship gets cut short as Shere Khan ramapages throughout the jungle. In this version of the film, Shere Khan is king of the jungle (as Khan means leader/king), and he watches the jungle for balance. When he finds somene killing for fun instead of food he takes them out. As he is going after one specific person, others get in the way and die. He kills Nathoo, and in the shuffle to escape Mowgli amd his wolf get left behind.

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Mowgli is befriended by the animals of the jungle as Bagheera, the panther, takes him to the wolves to be raised by them. He also befriends Baloo the bear and a variety of other animals.

Twenty years into the future, Mowgli is a man and runs with the different animals of the jungle. They are even able to comunicate with each other. In the story there are a group of monkeys, Rhesus macaque, who are the foot soldiers of the lord of all apes, King Louie (an orangutan). They are called the Bandar-log an they steal Kitty’s bracelet for King Louie’s treasury.  

Mowgli is enraged and follows them to get his bracelet back. He finds the city of the monkeys where King Louie rules. He goes in and demands his bracelet back. King Louie agrees to give him the bracelet back, if he can fight the snake Kaa and win. Mowgli pulls out a jeweled dagger and uses it to fight against Kaa. And wins the appreciation of all the apes

Meanwhile, Kitty is a woman now, back in India and engaged to Captain William Boone, played by the very sexy Cary Elwes.

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Unfortunately, Boone, while being hot, is a cruel, sadistic, gold-digging, ladder climbing, hunter. 😦 Oh well. One day Kitty and co. are out in the jungle painting and hanging out when she runs right into you-know-who…Mowgli.

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Mowgli is all dressed up, part of his trophies from winning against Kaa, and play-attacks/play-saves Kitty from Baloo. But she takes off.

Mowgli follows the group into the city, sneaking into Kitty’s room. Her screams rouse her bf and the guards, but before they come after him, she recognizes the bracelet he’s wearing as her own.  The guards chase Mowgli throughout the town and he ends up getting thrown in jail

Kitty frees Mowgli and she and Dr. Julius Plumford (John Cleese) try to help re-civilize him. (This scene is just like Tarzan, especially  the projection of images).
Mowgli begins to be able to talk amd act like those around him, but does not feel at home with the aristocrats, that is except for Kitty. He starts falling for her again, even though she is already spoken for. Mowgli also tells Kitty how he survived all these years and introduces her to all of his animal friends and tells her of the rules of the jungle.
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Meanwhile Boone and his friends  are eager to find the famed City of Gold (Monkey city) but don’t know the way. Everyone who has ever tried to find it has never returned. Boone decides to get Mowgli to help him find it.
Boone convinces Kitty to give him a day to hang out with Mowgli, apologizing for having been so mean. He brings Mowgli to his hunting trophy room, but after Mowgli sees that he doesn’t keep the jungle law, he refuses to help him out at all.
There is a ball, and Mowgli is excited to be there with Kitty. Unfortunately, that is when he hears the announcement of their engagement and hears of the plans they have for India. Mowgli decides to leave the city as he could never belong there, and decides to spend the rest of his life in the jungle.
But unbeknowest to him, Boone has other plans for Mowgli. He and his minions try to capture him, but Mowgli is saved by Baloo. Unfortunately, Baloo’s intervention causes him to be shot. Mowgli rushes to the city to get Dr. Plumford, but finds out that he and recently unengaged Kitty are headed for England.
While Mowgli chases after them, Kitty, her father, and the doctor are ambushed by William’s men. Mowgli is able to save the Doctor and sends him to help Baloo, and continues after the Brydons. He agrees to help Boone if Boone will ensure the safety of the Brydons.
The next day, Mowgli is able to get rid of one henchman, by tricking him into some quicksand. He also sends Kitty’s dad to safety on an elephant.
The other henchman is disposed of by more of Mowgli’s knowledge of the jungle. Soon all that is left is Mowgli, Kitty, Boone, and Boone’s remaining minoin. However, as they have finally reached the Monkey City, his minoins accidentally sets off a booby trap and finds himself a goner.
Only Boone, Kitty, and Mowgli make it to the treasure. Boone and Mowgli fight, but Mowgli wins and takes off with Kitty. Boone starts filling his pockets and bags with gold, not realizing that he still has Kaa to deal with.

Shere Khan confronts Mowgli and Kitty as they exit. Khan still does not trust Mowgli, and the two stare at each other a long time before Khan is stared down and leaves in submission – the fulfillment of a dream Mowgli had where he, already a ‘half-tiger’ in spirit, would stare Shere Khan eye to eye and become a ‘whole tiger’.
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Shere Khan recognizes that Mowgli another creature of the jungle and allows him to live. Mowgli and Kitty reunite with their friends and family, including Geoffrey and Baloo, both cured by Plumford. Kitty and Mowgli are now together (just like Tarzan and Jane)
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I just love this movie and thought it was amazing. It is far better than the animated sequel as it doesn’t retell te orginal story too much, and still keeps all the elements of it when going in a new direction.
For more on both versions of The Jungle Book, go to Snakes on a Post
For more on Disney, go to Once upon a Dream
For more films based on books, go to Second Star to the Right
For more films based on cartoons, go to Disney Lesson