Although I happen to enjoy director Dario Argento’s earlier efforts, his later stuff really hasn’t been all that impressive. Maybe that’s why I’m still on the fence about “Dracula 3D”, which, as the title suggests, shall be presented in the glory of the third dimension. The embedded teaser reveals too much, so if you don’t want any of the film’s surprises ruined beforehand, perhaps you should skip over this one entirely. Proceed with extreme caution. You’ve been warned.
Here’s an extensive synopsis, which also reveals too much:
The tale begins with Jonathan Harker, journeying by train and carriage from England to Count Dracula’s crumbling, remote castle situated in the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Transylvania. The purpose of his mission is to catalogue the big library of Dracula. At first enticed by Dracula’s gracious manner, Harker soon discovers that he has become a prisoner in the castle. He also begins to see disquieting facets of Dracula’s nocturnal life. One night while searching for a way out of the castle, and against Dracula’s strict admonition not to venture outside his room at night, Harker falls under the spell of three wanton female vampires, the Brides of Dracula.
He is saved at the last second by the Count, because he wants to keep Harker alive. Harker barely escapes from the castle with his life. Soon Dracula is tracking Harker’s devoted fiancée, Wilhelmina “Mina” Murray, and her friend, Lucy Westenra. There is a notable encounter between Dracula and Renfield, an insane man who means to consume insects, spiders, birds, and other creatures in ascending order of size in order to absorb their “life force”. Renfield acts as a motion sensor, detecting Dracula’s proximity and supplying clues accordingly.
Lucy begins to waste away suspiciously. All her suitors fret, and Seward calls in his old teacher, Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Amsterdam. Van Helsing immediately determines the cause of Lucy’s condition but refuses to disclose it, knowing that Seward’s faith in him will be shaken if he starts to speak of vampires. Van Helsing tries multiple blood transfusions, but they are clearly losing ground. On a night when Van Helsing must return to Amsterdam, Lucy and her mother are attacked by a wolf. Mrs Westenra, who has a heart condition, dies of fright, and Lucy apparently dies soon after. Lucy is buried, but soon afterward the newspapers report children being stalked in the night by a “bloofer lady”. Van Helsing knows that this means Lucy has become a vampire. The suitors and Van Helsing track her down, and after a disturbing confrontation between her vampiric self and Arthur, they stake her heart, behead her, and fill her mouth with garlic.
Around the same time, Jonathan Harker arrives home from recuperation in Budapest; he and Mina also join the coalition, who turn their attentions to dealing with Dracula. After Dracula learns of Van Helsing and the others’ plot against him, he takes revenge by visitingand biting Mina at least three times. Dracula also feeds Mina his blood, creating a spiritual bond between them to control her. The only way to forestall this is to kill Dracula first. Mina slowly succumbs to the blood of the vampire that flows through her veins, switching back and forth from a state of consciousness to a state of semi-trance during which she is telepathically connected with Dracula. It is this connection that they start to use to deduce Dracula’s movements.
It is only possible to detect Dracula’s surroundings when Mina is put under hypnosis by Van Helsing. This ability gradually gets weaker as the group make their way to Dracula’s castle. Dracula flees back to his castle in Transylvania, followed by Van Helsing’s group, who manage to track him down just before sundown and destroy him by shearing “through the throat” with a knife and stabbing him in the heart also with a knife. Dracula crumbles to dust, his spell is lifted and Mina is freed from the marks. Quincey Morris is killed in the final battle, stabbed by Gypsies who had been charged with returning Dracula to his castle; the survivors return to England.
“Dracula 3D” stars Marta Gastini, Rutger Hauer, Asia Argento, Miguel Angel Silvestre, and Miriam Giovanelli. Look for this one to arrive in various markets sometime next year.