Vampire Reviews: Dracula 2000
Good evenink. I am ze Maven of ze Eventide and velcome to Vampire Reviews. What? He is! So what if he lives in Canada. Our love is pure! Have you ever vondered where vampires come from? Who was the first vampire, and what made him – or her – and why? There have been many creative answers to these questions over the ages. It’s a popular idea that Dracula was the first vampire, but some of the mythologies date back thousands of years. But if vampires are really so old, what’s up with all the Christian aspects of the lore? Why are they afraid of crosses and holy water? Why can’t they enter churches? What about Jewish vampires? Are they afraid of crosses too? Well, some stories say Lilith and Cain from the Bible slash Torah were the first vampires and that at least melds the Christian and Jewish, but what about atheist vampires? And why are any of them allergic to garlic and silver? Now, before you say “Silver? That’s for werewolves!” let me remind you that vampires and werewolves were originally part of the same myth. And even Mr. King of the Vampires himself turned into a wolf as often as he turned into rats or bats or mist. Yes, being vulnerable to silver is a vampire thing. It always has been. But why? What does any of this have to do with Christianity, and what does any of it have to do with Dracula? Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film offered an origin story that showed us a Vlad the Impaler who started a personal holy war, against God, after he lost his OTP. And that gave a very solid basis for where the Christian lore comes into his issues. But Joel Soisson and Patrick Lussier decided to take it one step further in their 2000 film, Dracula 2000. Not to be confused with Dracula 3000, which is Dracula in spaaaace. This is the Dracula 2000, a brand new, shinier, sleek and sexier model for all your modern bloodsucking needs. Comes complete with new and improved wardrobe and a hot new hairdo! Also, it takes place in 2000. And Dracula is exactly 2000 years old. Yes, Dracula’s true origin and secret identity is none other than Judas Iscariot. Betrayer of Jesus of Nazareth and Christianity’s favourite traitor, cursed here by God to be an immortal, unholy, blood-sucking demon for his crime against Christ, and that is why he’s vulnerable to silver. Oh my God, you guys, it’s so deep, you know, ’cause Judas got thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus, and woah! And the garlic? Well… This movie conveniently forgets the garlic. And I guess the daylight thing is his aversion to the light of God and stuff? Yes, this Judas is also the original Dracula from Bram Stoker’s novel, sailed on the Demeter and everything and faced off against Abraham Van Helsing. And, as we find out in the direct-to-video sequels, he was also Vlad Tepes, and he was also Caligula, and Gilles de Rais, and pretty much everyone else who’s ever been accused of being kind of vampirey in history. That is, everyone since the birth of Christ. Like many stories that make out Dracula to be the original vampire, so is this Dracula, his Dracula-ness just wasn’t the first time he did it. Dracu-Judas here is an example of what is known as The Wandering Jew, which is a Medieval Christian notion about the Bible verse Matthew 16:28 which they interpreted Jesus as saying that some of the people listening to him speak would not die prior to his second coming. And that meant to them that at least one of those people with him would for some reason be sentenced to immortality. So why not make it Judas? Now, I think this angle is really unique. Yes, it’s also a little bit… silly… despite how epic and serious the movie makes it out to be. Judas Iscariot. The cross. The silver. All the things you came to despise. But I still give the movie props for doing something different and hey! It was cool enough for the Librarian movies to rip it off. But if we’re deciding that, despite the weirdness, this plot point is a good one why is this film not considered a good movie by, well, anyone? Considering that it went from the first day of shooting to hitting the screen in only six months it’s not surprising that it earned its fourteen percent Tomato meter. But even all the production time in the world wouldn’t have been able to save a weak script. There’s a story about how one of the ten producers on this movie, Harvey Weinstein, called his script doctor and says: “I just brought a script! It’s called Dracula 2000!” and the doctor’s like “Oh yeah? Is it any good?” and Weinstein’s like: “No, it stinks!” “So why did you buy it?” “‘Cause it’s called Dracula 2000!” They did do a lot of work on the script and then, because he was what the cool kids liked at the time, even though he was only one other of the ten producers on this film, they billed it as “Wes Craven presents Dracula 2000”. But even that didn’t help with the ratings. It didn’t even come close to making its budget back. So, just what’s wrong with it? Well, I think it can be summed up as simply saying that… they tried too hard. Most seductive evil? Really? I get that vampires are seductive, sure, but Dracula? The guy that started out looking like this? But gosh darnit, if they weren’t going to make it hip for the kids! By 2000, it had become cliche for vampires to be sex gods. And here, instead of writing characters who progressed into such seductive beings they just plugged a bunch of hotties into the movie and tried to work backwards from there? For instance, take Dracula’s three brides, Solina, Lucy and Valerie. [Solina] To be chosen feels like [gasp] being born. [Voiceover] See? She’s sexy now! Before, she was kind of a bitchy tease, but now she’s constantly hot and bothered. [Valerie] So tell me, d’you ever dream about making it with a TV star? [Voiceover] Yes, that is Seven of Nine. And she gets staked right in her famous rack. That’s nice and symmetrical there, but that’s not where the heart is! [Lucy] It is better than chocolate. [Snarls] [Voiceover] And yes, that’s Vitamin C. Is there some rule that when Gerard Butler is playing a spooky creature of the night his pure innocent love interest has to have a blonde pop star BFF? And speaking of Gerard Butler’s Dracula… [Man] What the Hell are you? [Voiceover] Sexy. Can’t you tell? And also, he’s tortured. [Dracula] It was my destiny to betray you. Because you needed me. [Voiceover] Oh my God! Judas as a sympathetic misunderstood victim of fate and destiny? No-one’s ever played that angle before! [Judas] But I only did what you wanted me too! The film starts with a cliche heist scene ripping off Matrix, Mission Impossible, whatever you want to call it, with a bunch of really cool tough guys breaking into Van Helsing’s secret vault. [Tough guy] What… the Hell is that? [Voiceover] If I had a dollar for every time greedy thieves were looking for treasure and unearthed a vampire instead… [Tough guy] …part of the frickin’ plan. [Voiceover] One of these things is not like the other. Yes, that is the cool guy from That Seventies Show. He plays Nightshade, or just Shade – Oh my God, he’s so gothy! – and his sole purpose is to get killed so Dracula can steal his cool and gothy wardrobe. I mean, think about it. Dracula has no idea what’s fashionable. He’s going to put on the clothes of whoever he kills first. Imagine if he’d killed this guy first instead! And then, once he’s sexied himself up, he magically makes the thieves’ plane crash-land in New Orleans where Van Helsing’s daughter Mary lives. Because, as we all know, New Orleans is the Mecca for all vampires. Thank you, Anne Rice. Also, in New Orleans, it’s always Mardi Gras! And – and in New Orleans, it’s always Catholic! Which gives the film lots of excuses to have crosses everywhere. Though Dracu-Judas is never really affected by them, as it turns out. They just kind of piss him off. [Van Helsing] They can be killed by silver, by sunlight, by stakes – all but one. Dracula was the first. But unlike those he infected, he cannot be killed. He hates God. He is repulsed by all things Christian – but these things do not kill him, no. They only fill him with a rage that makes him even stronger. [Voiceover] Then why are you using silver and crosses to fight him if they make him stronger? [Dracula] Propaganda. [Voiceover] Then the movie tries to be funny by subverting the trope with this guy. [Vampire] I’m an atheist. [Laughs] [Knife pops out] [Gasps] [Human] God loves you anyway. [Voiceover] I guess if you really think about it, all of the homages to Dracula cliches are kind of cute but they don’t fit in with the tone of the movie. This film is not a parody. [Dracula] I don’t drink… coffee. [Voiceover] So instead they just come off as actual cliches, and leave the rules of the script’s universe confused. If silver works on all of them, why doesn’t the cross? [Splutters] You know what? I’m not even going to bother mentioning all the plot holes. Or the weird coincidences of people knowing exactly where to go when the people they’re chasing could be anywhere. Or the cliche aerial fight scenes. And some pretty atrocious acting. [Man] Dax and Eddie get impaled… what the Hell is going on? [Woman] Would you just go sit down? [Man, overlapping] You know something! [Voiceover] I’ll leave that kind of nit-picking to the other critics. Let’s focus on the characters. In a minute. [V/O] The story goes that when Van Helsing captured Dracula in the 1800s, when the Bram Stoker novel took place, he found out he couldn’t kill him. So he kept him locked up, and used his blood to keep himself from dying to act as his eternal keeper. This is all explained to Mary and Van Helsing’s assistant Simon through the magical exposition diary that appears toward the end of the film and then is never mentioned again. [Mary, reading] My unholy addiction has corrupted Mary’s blood… [V/O] And while Van Helsing was keeping Dracula, he apparently got busy and passed Dracula’s blood through his genes into Mary. And for all of Mary’s life, she’s been dreaming about Dracula, not understanding what she really is. And what she is, is… a virgin …record store employee. [Lucy] I just keep thinking Mary, that maybe if you had a man in your bed, you – [Mary] – wouldn’t need the man in my head, thanks. [V/O] Oh, and also a virgin. Who works at the totally cool and edgy Virgin megastore! See kids, this movie’s really hip! For those of you who weren’t around before they went out of business, the Virgin Record Store used to be the place to hang out back when I was in college. If you were completely broke and it was really cold outside. It’s where I bought my favourite T-shirt! Well, he does! Bluh! And even though it’s just her workplace, we get plenty of shots of her in her work shirt! She even sleeps in it, just in case you needed to be reminded that she’s a virgin. Seriously, was having her work at Pure Innocent Susceptible Maiden Incorporated not hip enough? Or was it just too long a name to fit across Justine Waddell’s boobs? I mean, what if everyone went around wearing shirts that said exactly what they were for the sake of the audience not forgetting? Who does that? But yes, Mary’s one single character trait is that she’s pure and innocent and untouched. Now, maybe the film thought they were being funny because it’s a common trope for Dracula or vampires in general to be only attracted to virginal maidens. And as we see in this film, Dracula is quite a lover of the ladies and they him… seriously, do no men shop at this store? But the idea that this trait is Mary’s entire personality just ends up dangling, and doesn’t affect the plot of the movie in any way. Her only character actions are being scared, and then suddenly, in a twist at the climax, betraying Dracula after she’s come to understand him and been seduced by him? Why is she able to trick him and resist his power? Well, maybe it’s ’cause of the blood connection thing, but… why does that suddenly make her strong enough to do so when she’s spent the entire movie doing nothing but whimpering? She has no problem at all chopping off her own best friend’s head even Simon hesitated with Solina and she wasn’t even likeable. So then, we have to ask, what is the movie’s real point of Mary being innocent? Dracula never mentions wanting or needing his OTP to be chaste and untainted. He’s attracted to Mary because she has his blood in him, not because of anything to do with her love life. And the other girls he goes after are certainly no virgins, so why even bring it up? Why does it matter? Is it just because they were going for a really forced Virgin Mary comparison? How does that tie into the structure of the movie at all? She’s hardly the immaculate conception here and it has nothing to do with the Dracula plot, so why? Movie, are you just trying to slutshame some bitches? [Sigh] Think about it, everyone Dracula gets is guilty of something. The lead thief Marcus deserves his punishment, as do all of his goons, see? That’s what he gets for stealing. Dr Seward here deserves to die because he’s a wuss. [Dracula] Dignity, doctor. [V/O] No! [Screaming] And the detective deserves it because he’s aroused by Solina and that makes him creepy. And of course, Lucy and Valerie deserve their punishment because they’re slutty. [Valerie] Get my tits? And with all of these less-than-innocent behaviours contrasted to Mary’s innocence the audience doesn’t have to feel bad for the victims. Instead of being a terrifying spreader of sin and betrayal like you might imagine Judas would be this instead makes Dracu-Judas out to be more like some kind of vigilante anti-hero who’s saving against and punishing sin rather than the villain who goes after innocent maidens like Dracula was in the book. [Father David] How did you feel? [Mary] Scared… but a little bit… drawn. No, no, more than that, it was like he was… taking over. [V/O] He was totally taking control! I’m not slutty! After all, it’s hard for the audience watching the movie to want to bone the man-meat in the film if they’d actually be afraid of him. [Scoff] This way, women watching this can think: Oh, if I’m just a good girl then sexy sexy Dracula will want me as his special someone but without any consequences of actually getting hurt! [Laughs] Fools! Van Helsing of course deserves to die for being a bad father and so the only characters left who deserve to live are Mary and the – not love interest just sidekick – Simon. The movie goes out of its way to make a point that Simon used to be sinful but he’s repented and reformed and now does not deserve to be punished for his sins. [Simon] I made a pretty fair mess of things before your father came along. I was out of control, he gave me a job, turned my life around. So movie, you’re really doing the Dracula pretty much only kills evil-doers thing? Really? Do you need to try so hard to make this character forgiveable? He’s Judas, for Christ’s sake! The film does do its best to keep the vampire menacing at first by not giving him too much screen time, which in a monster movie is a good thing. He’s a man of few words and when it comes to Gerard Butler playing dark and spooky, that’s for the best. Otherwise, you get this: …day you did not do all that the Phantom… But then they start to give him more exposure so that he’ll become more than a monster in the audience’s eyes. A sympathetic villain, who just wants to understand his existence! He’s lost, and confused, and is just seeking something to hold on to! Something that’s part of him to call home, perhaps? What he really wants is a family, and a kinship he lost so long ago! He’s bitter. And lashing out. But only because he’s hurting inside! He doesn’t want forgiveness so much as validation. [Dracula] You stole life from my blood. [V/O] Oh, and also revenge against Van Helsing, who’s been torturing him for decades. [Dracula] She’s my Mary now. [V/O] I’ll admit it, I do think the connection Dracula has to Mary is actually a good plot point and I like what they at least tried to do with it. It’s a lot more interesting than having his OTP just be played by the same actress as his dead wife, as we have seen before. This time, he’s actually interested in her for her and not because she reminds him of another woman or some reincarnation business. She’s part of Dracula. And in a way that none of his other brides have ever been or could be, and that’s pretty cool. Mmm… you smell like… me. It’s too bad that how they end up using it is so vague and strange. ‘Cause of the blood tie, Mary is more connected to Dracula than anyone else, but also more… able to resist his power? That’s something I would have liked to see explained… After the big reveal, but before anything can really be done or said about it Mary hangs Dracu-Judas, and he burns up in the light of dawn. But he’s still not dead. The ending message is confused and weak and none of the struggles feel resolved. The film made a really bold move with the whole Judas thing, but then it got scared of offending people? So it didn’t offer any closure at all to the story of his character arc. And all we’re left with is a cliché monster who’s totally just going to get up and do it all over again in the sequel. [Dracula] Now I drink the blood of your children. [V/O] Being a general bitch to God until someone comes along to stop him! Mary takes over the job of being his keeper and now finally understands who she is and her meaning in life. It’s just too bad the movie doesn’t convey that understanding to the audience… [Mary V/O] I am Mary Van Helsing. I am my father’s daughter. And nothing can ever take that away. [V/O] What does that mean? And just how is that empowering? And how am I supposed to get how your character has changed without your T-shirt that says ‘Daddy Issues Conquerer’? What? Like you don’t have your little habits! I am ze Maven of ze Eventide, and Dracula… deserved better than this. [Whimpering] Dignity, movie. [Sigh] I need a coconut! I vant to suck your… milk… Bluh!