ByBenjamin Marlatt, writer at

In the year 3000, members of the space salvage ship Mother III stumble upon the abandoned transport Demeter. Captain Van Helsing (Casper Van Dien) and his crew – Aurora Ash (Erika Eleniak), 187 (Coolio), Mina Murry (Alexandra Kamp), Arthur Holmwood (Grant Swanby) and Humvee (Tiny Lister) – aboard the ship and discover a corpse clutching a crucifix. Claiming salvage rights, the crew decide to tow the ship back to earth.

Later on, 187 and Humvee discover a cargo bay full of coffins. They speculate that it could be smuggled goods, but surprise, surprise, it’s a vampire by the name of Count Orlock (Langley Kirkwood).

Like Jason X and Leprechaun 4: In Space before it, Dracula 3000 is another entry in the “throw a monster up in space” genre. What does the king of all vampires have to do with space here? Well, absolutely nothing, and judging from how cheap the set design and effects are, the filmmakers felt exactly the same way.

So, how does it tie-in to the Bram Stoker classic? Well, we get people named Van Helsing, Mina, Captain Varna (named after a city mentioned in the book) and Arthur Holmwood and then ships named Demeter and Space Station Transylvania. Why they make Arthur Holmwood “the professor”, I have no clue. You’d think they would’ve named him after Van Helsing, but then we wouldn’t get such cinematic badass-ness as when Casper Van Dien cockily declares to Count Orlock, “You’re dealing with a Van Helsing!” I’m certain Lord Holmwood would be thrilled to know he’s finally getting recognized (outside of Francis Ford Coppola’s version, Holmwood and Quincey Morris are often omitted), until he realizes it’s in this film.

For being a movie about Dracula (the title more than implies it), it’s a bit surprising how non-existent he is in this film. Even when he apparently shows up, I kept thinking that it couldn’t be Dracula ’cause the guy I’m looking at looks like he got lost trying to find the Pride and Prejudice dress rehearsal. You set the film in space, have the characters very much emphasize the fact that they’re in the future and you still have Dracula dress like a 18th century aristocrat?

This is quite a gathering of “where are they now?” all-stars, the most recognizable face out of them all (outside of acclaimed thespian Coolio) is possibly Tiny Lister. I’ll take a second while you chew on that thought for a moment. Casper Van Dien went from starring in two entertaining films, one directed by Paul Verhoeven (Starship Troopers) and the other by Tim Burton (Sleepy Hollow), to having his face plastered on almost every straight-to-DVD feature ever made. He’s by far the most talented actor in this film and that has got to be the most backhanded compliment I’ve given any movie I’ve reviewed this year.

Erika Eleniak is back by popular demand as the hard-as-nails vice-captain, who wears a skimpy tank top for the entire film ’cause – hell, something’s gotta be the eye candy in this (see above comment about set design and visual effects). When you see how so hard she tries to squeeze a performance out for us, you’ll realize why it never got any better than that Steven Seagal film for her.

She also shares a bizarre scene with Tiny Lister at the very end that comes completely out of left field and is such a jerk the steering wheel u-turn tone shift from the rest of the film, I was actually expecting the Benny Hill theme song to start playing.

Tiny Lister and Coolio share most of the dialogue – of which, I was expecting to be simmering with elegance like the Stoker novel, only to be let down. That’s quite possibly intentional for Lister and Coolio they just might not have been able to shut up. Coolio’s performance is quite a marvel at just how bad it is. He’s either overacting or is simply stoned out of his mind. My money’s on a third option: all of the above. One thing’s for certain: his character commits at least a hundred sexual harassment violations (which involve the words ejaculate and bazonkas in the same sentence) against Erika Eleniak’s. Lister must’ve been thrilled to get a role that lasts longer than 10 minutes. After seeing this film, it now makes so much sense as to why he’s so quiet in The Dark Knight. It’s clearly ’cause he was reflecting on how the hell he was able to wind up in a Christopher Nolan film after starring in this steaming dog turd.

I wish in The Dark Knight DVD featurette Nolan was like, “The decision to cast Tiny Lister came after watching Dracula 3000 one night.”

Oh, how can I forget Udo Kier – a man who has more film credits to his name than any other living or dead actor combined. You think Van Dien lives for the straight-to-DVD? Kier is the Almighty Zeus – king of all the gods – of straight-to-DVD. I honestly think he doesn’t even get paid. He’s just that starved for attention.

For a film made in 2004 set in the year 3000, this film has production values that appear to predate Thomas Edison. Effects so bad it’s like they’re not even there, headache-inducing acting and dialogue and props and set pieces that look like they were purchased out of a clearance bin at Toys “R” Us – this director was nominated for an Oscar? Hey, someone’s gotta take one for the team and make Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing watchable, right?

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