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Bram Stoker's Dracula

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Bram Stoker's Dracula

Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Rated: R
RunTime: 128 Minutes
Release Date: November 1992
Genre: Horror

*Also starring: Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes, Bill Campbell, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits

Review by Jerry Saravia
No Rating Supplied

The 1922 silent masterpiece "Nosferatu," and its 1979 remake by Herzog are clearly the most lucid, atmospheric interpretations of the famous novel by Bram Stoker. There have been several remakes and sequels in their wake, so why keep remaking the oft-told story? We all know it by heart. Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is a visual mess - an overblown, campy knock off of the legend. That's not to say that it isn't fun.

Coppola's "Dracula" starts off promisingly for the first half-hour complete with silhouettes, shadows, irises, beautiful if ostentatious imagery, and really fancy camera tricks, especially when we first visit Dracula's castle. Some of this represents of Coppola's best directorial work ever, but he screws up when he doesn't take the legend seriously.

The acting is uneven throughout. Gary Oldman ("J.F.K") plays Dracula fairly straight with an astonishing array of body movements and language (he's a bloodsucking, white-haired, venemous creature in the beginning) but his performance lacks passion and verve. Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker is merely incompetent and unbelievable in a period setting - he reminded me too much of his Bill and Ted antics. Sir Anthony Hopkins overacts to the hilt as Professor Van Helsing, and has a moment where he smells Mina's fragrance reminding one of Hannibal Lecter. Winona Ryder, however, steals the movie as Mina (Harker's sweetie), and she is appropriately passionate and sexy, especially in the love scenes.

As incredibly flawed as "Dracula" is, it somehow works in the big egostistical way that some of Coppola's lesser efforts have. At times resembling more of a horror spoof, it is extraordinarily well-made and the snowy climax at Drac's castle is terrific, suspenseful stuff. Unfortunately, dear old Francis leaves so little to the imagination and the gore is piled on scene after scene with none of the cold, chilling atmosphere of "Nosferatu" or Lugosi's "Dracula."

Over-the-top, overstuffed, overdone and undernourished in character details, "Dracula" is never boring and somehow fun in a crude way. This Count does not suck, but he occasionally does bite.

Copyright 1993 Jerry Saravia

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