Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

“Love Never Dies” screamed the posters. But creativity did. It died at the Borgo Pass. How bad is this? Keanu Reeves bad. Come on! He actually looks as high as a kite. I think the people in charge of this piece of garbage were his dealers. They were in the wings, feeding him his lines – and his coke. Urging him on with “we got this, those schmucks in the theatre seats will never know you’re out of it. You look dead when you deliver your lines anyway…” Really, if I wanted to see people reading their lines without emotion I’d watch a small business ad on TV. He’s that bad. In fact, the only good actor was Gary Oldman, and it looks like he doesn’t even care, though I can’t say I’d blame him: everyone seems to be reading from cue cards.

Coppola adds gratuitous violence and gross scenes to make it look ‘edgy’, but fails miserably. You know how some films get better on repeat viewings? Well Bram Stoker’s Dracula gets worse. Oldman is committed to the lead role, and has tortured soul down pat, but someone thought it was a good idea to make him an old ponce and stick a set of buttocks on his head! Or are they supposed to be a pair of wrinkly old breasts? You just can’t take the character seriously from the moment he appears on screen. At times he even sounds like a toad with a sore throat. There’s some vampire erotica as Coppola caters for the horny horror faithful, though these scenes play out like an after midnight MTV video, so not really very sexy at all.

Conceptually, this film is lacking. It should have been a Gothic classic, but clearly Coppola was out of his depth tackling such a genre. Let me count the ways the source novel has been butchered in this version of the tale: Lucy has been turned from a classy, lovely lady whom one could believe that three distinguished gentlemen such as John, Quincy and Arthur could all fall in love with, into a shrill, pasty trollop/whore who repels whenever she opens her ghastly mouth. Watching this film is kind of like being downwind on a large cinematic garbage dump. It is supremely, incredibly, wonderfully putrid. You can smell the dialogue and acting from miles away. Keanu is in full Keanu form with his Ed Wood-en quality acting.

It is not clear to me why “Dracula” merited a modern retelling, particularly when the Count himself comes off looking not like a horrific soldier of Satan, but a retired employee at the cereal factory…on a bad day. More importantly, the “love” theme, as well as the film’s constant forays into bestiality, is curious and distracting, at best– disgusting at its worst. When Lucy is being orally performed on by Gary Oldman, in wolf form, and he flashes a toothy smile for the camera, I almost stopped watching. Dracula of the novel does not love mortals. Mina is simply a pawn to be used, nothing more. And while Anthony Hopkins does a great job as Van Helsing, the character of the film seems far less sane than the Van Helsing of the book, and far less caring – which doesn’t help with a viewer’s emotional identification.

Winona Ryder constantly seems as if she has just been caught shoplifting, as she steals glances at the John Lennon-inspired Dracula. She always looks like she’s on the verge of a childish tantrum. As for the cinematography and the ‘goth’ sets…whatever. Its more fantasy than horror. If you can’t appreciate the story, who gives a bean about the scenery? Anyway, it looks phony. As for the title, this is not Bram Stoker’s Dracula. His novel did not depict Mina and Lucy as immature little sluts sniggering over the Kama Sutra. And Keanu Reeves seems to have wandered in from the set of Bill and Ted’s Transylvanian Adventure, his face registering a perpetually glazed look of befuddlement. His performance as British gentleman Jonathan Harker is like watching a pony trying to fly. “Human male” was and remains an insurmountable task for Reeves.  I don’t think Stoker envisioned Harker as part-Asian either.

He was so worried about the accent, thinking about it, losing sleep over it etc. Like a Sword of Damocles hovering over his useless locks, he was too focused on the monumental task of transforming himself from a Hawaiian surfer dude into an upper crust Englishman, that he forgot to act. Not that he can. His big moment – “I know wah the bastahd sleeps. I bhought him thea! To Cahfax Abbeh..” is pure comedy gold. But I don’t think Mr Coppola intended it to be. This did not have to happen. He allowed his daughter’s boyfriend to sink his movie, although he is only the crowning turd on this stinker. He’s not alone in shouldering the blame, but I swear you can finish all his lines with “dude” and it would have been better.



  1. This review is hilarious, I love it! Agreed, this film is surprisingly bad on re-watch. In fact I’d definitely call it one of my favourite unintentional comedies, with Keanu making me laugh harder in this flick than in any of his other actual comedy films.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Exactly! This is the companion piece to Mel Brooks ‘Dracula: Dead And Loving It’. They are just as self conscious. The part where Keanu Reeves is weeping with frustration before Gary Oldman laughs at him sums it up. “Too much acting” as they’d say in The League Of Gentleman.


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