Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Count Crap: Die Hard Dracula

I regret many decisions in my life and this is one of them.  After Dracula Week ended, I could have just skipped this movie and put it off until another month.  But no, I just had to watch it for November.  Made in 2002 (allegedly 1998), but with production values straight out of the early '90s.  This is low-budget crap at it's worst, folks.  To make matters worse, a once-good actor is brought down with it: Bruce Glover.  Fans of Roger Moore's Bond films will recognize him as one of the two assassins in Diamonds Are Forever.  For the rest of you, he's Crispin Glover's dad.  Fun fact: the two assassins were actually parodied on Kids Next Door, a show aimed at 10 year-olds.  No, I don't get the logic either.  Since I can't put off talking about this film any more, let's just get to it.  Dracula comes to life and kills people.  An American comes by and gets in the middle of the whole situation.  I can't stall any longer, so sit down for the pain.  Get out your explosive alcohol for my review of...
The film begins with Dracula waking up in his coffin, causing it to shake and fly out the window.  Yes, his coffin is flying, set to the tune of 'Flight of the Valkyries.'  Is it too early to shut off the movie and shatter the disc into 6,000,000 pieces?  Anyways, an old man in some other place is killed and his daughter is chased into the castle, despite no establishing shot of her going in.  She just sort of shows up in there, only for the man to follow her.  Dracula- looking like a bloated Meatloaf- wakes up, kills the man and turns her.  We jump ahead to modern times where a trio of young people are jet skiing on a lake.  The lady neglects to put on a life jacket while riding and falls off, apparently drowning in a matter of seconds.  Magic water, huh?  He gets all emo about it for a bit and wishes on a star.  That same star- actually a comet- crashes into a woman's grave in Translyvania as she's about to be buried.  Oddly, this does no physical damage to the wooden box.  Even more oddly, the woman comes back to life.  Yeah, but she's probably going to be possessed by a wizard from the dark ages.  Good for you if you get the reference by the way.  The man goes on a vacation to escape his troubles and ends up in, you guessed it, Transylvania.  Big tourist area, huh?  He gets in a car crash, which leads him to walk into town hurt and meet...his dead girlfriend.
No, it's just the previously-dead girl, who is just played by the same actress.  Dracula is out and about though, despite the bitching of his wife (the lady from the intro).  He goes out in the daytime- just covering himself with a hat- and kills a friend of the lady who we only meet two minutes earlier.  He makes a play for the lead actress, but gets turned away due to his weakened state.  Desperate, the town's pub owner calls in Van Helsing (Glover- above) to help turn the tide.  No sooner does he say 'it will be hard to find Dracula' does the guy walk into the bar.  See- it's funny because...I don't know why, actually.  He finds out about Dracula's identity by asking the chef to put garlic in his toast.  He busts out a book called 'How To Kill Dracula' after the Count leaves, but hints that they're all theories.  Meanwhile, Dracula gets bitched at by his old lady and his new one.  In addition, he turns out to have a weird biological effect: he gets bloated when he has no new blood and skinny when he does.  Of course, taking in more fluid makes you skinnier!  Helsing and our hero agree to take him on, but their first attempt ends badly.  He survives a shot of silver bullets and a cross, but they escape.  Time for Plan B...and C...and D...and E.
Our heroes try a series of effects against Dracula.  They make a silver spear, but it just wounds him.  Hell, even lighting him on fire just makes him mad!  After our hero and the lady agree to marry, Dracula 'shockingly' kidnaps the lady.  She fights him for a bit- using a cross she got from the guy- but eventually gets turned.  Another attempt to kill Dracula ends better, until The Count shoots fireballs at them!  Yeah, that's a 'no' on that one.  They make one more try with a sword and some fencing, but the Count just puts his head back on (off-screen).  The hapless pair one final, final attempt to kill him, setting up a plan involving alcohol, an arrow and a fake castle.  Seriously, they focus on this shit!  Basically, they pour alcohol on Dracula, shoot a flaming arrow at him and he explodes!  Screw you, science!!!  The Count's brides- including the man's former-fiancee- attack Van Helsing and the man.  The film awkwardly segues into a bleak ending where Dracula is alive now, our heroes are vampires and the group dance around.  I guess that's supposed to be funny too, huh?  The End.
This movie sucks bad!  The plot is ridiculous at face value and is full of holes at closer inspection.  Dracula has unexplained powers- including throwing fireballs, shooting lightning and making his casket fly- for some reason.  He can walk in the sunlight and is immune to all of his weaknesses too.  How?  Why?  There's something called 'surprise for surprise sake' aka 'swerving' people.  This is when plots or stories take 'unexpected turns.'  However, these turns are unexpected because there is no logic to them (see Vince Russo booking WCW).  This crap just comes out of nowhere and is never explained.  It's like the 'silver doesn't work on these werewolves' thing from Howling II, only it happens about ten times here!  The acting is bad, even for a low-budget comedy.  There's certainly a lower standard here, but they fail to reach even that low standard.  I feel bad for Glover, since he seems to actually try here.  On the upside, he does seem to be having a good time.  It would be nice if I could share that experience with you!  The special effects, writing and overall production values just blow here.  It's not funny or interesting.  It's like watching a train wreck for 80 minutes.  If you think that sounds fun to you, enjoy this film.  For me, it was just a waste of my time.  Enjoy this rare double-dose of shitty special effects from the film...
Up next, a film that almost nobody has heard of that set up a show that most people don't remember.  As a side-note, I still wish that I had Jessie's Girl.  Stay tuned...


  1. I've never quite understood the consistent urge to make a movie with a famous horror creature (vampire/werewolf/etc.) and say, "Ah, but with the ones in this movie, regular weakness X doesn't apply!" It isn't too bad if you at least explain it reasonably rationally, but a lot of films don't.

    See: Blade. Movie: "Crosses don't work." Me: "Why?" Movie logic: "Vampires are a scientific phenomena, not magical/supernatural. For instance, there's nothing mystical about sunlight--it's UV radiation that kills them." Me: "Okay, fair enough." Movie: "Oh, by the way, the lead villain vampire is going to hold a supernatural ceremony to suck out evil vampire souls and become the Blood God." Me: "Uh...what? Are they supernatural or aren't they?"

    And I like Blade, actually. It's just a good example of the "it doesn't work because...uh...we don't want it to" mentality. Nowhere near as bad as Howling II's "silver doesn't work...so take this titanium and we'll never mention this again" idea, though. O_O

  2. It's the 'Vince Russo Swerve' mindset. People go in expecting certain things from genre films and writers will change the rules to make people off-guard. It's like 'oh, no- what will we do now?' Who cares that it makes no sense?!?

    If you want a more film-related explanation, there's one guy to blame: Hitchcock.

    If that jerk hadn't come up with such an ingenious 1st Act twist for 'Psycho,' people wouldn't be trying to copy it for the lost fifty years. Jerk.

  3. Yeah...people need to learn that just because something is going to be expected or common to a certain type of story, that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it. I'm sure that there are plenty of ways to make your vampire tale unique and fun without, for instance, taking away their vulnerability to sunlight, or to make your werewolf tale fun while leaving them vulnerable to silver, or to make your wrestling show fun while keeping events and characters remotely logical. If there's not a good reason to change it...then, honestly, you probably shouldn't. Surprising your audience is not worth the sacrifice of the integrity of your film, the consistency of your story's rules, or the believable portrayal of your characters.

    I don't honestly have a huge problem with people deciding to change a creature's weaknesses or powers if it is done logically and remains internally consistent (and the change itself isn't astronomically stupid), but I do have to wonder sometimes...if your end result has little resemblance to the original creature or the common lore, why not just make up your own creature to begin with? It's fun, people, try it! Maybe it'll catch on, and then years later you can watch in joy as angry internet people jabber on about the way some goofball meaninglessly changed the lore of your creature, instead of being the goofball yourself.