BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. 1992. DIRECTED BY FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA. STARRING GARY OLDMAN, ANTHONY HOPKINS, WINONA RYDER, KEANU REEVES, CARY ELWES, RICHARD E. GRANT AND SADIE FROST. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I’ve had quite the love-hate relationship with this film. The first time I saw it, I hated it, much to the disgust of the friend and massive Gary Oldman fan with whom I was watching it. (‘But he’s Sirius Black!” she kept saying. ‘Sirius Blaaack…!’) Sirius Black or not, it made no odds to me. I just didn’t get the whole deal. (Also, I really blotted my friendship copybook by laughing my ass off at his little glasses and his hair when he’s old and in Transylvania….!) The second time I saw the film, about a year later, I totally got it and had a whale of a time watching it. I guess sometimes you have to give something a little distance before you can realise that you love it…
So, what is the actual deal here? Well, this is a rather superior re-telling of Bram Stoker’s supernatural- and super!- literary classic, DRACULA. Gary Oldman does a grand job of playing the aristocratic vampire Count who has waited centuries to be reunited with the love of his life, Elisabeta, who took her own life due to the cruel lies of others.
The poor tormented Dracula, who really is a most sympathetic character in this version and not at all repellent, finds his Elisabeta again in nineteenth-century England. In a nineteenth-century Englishwoman, to be precise. While in his alternate guise of a young(ish) nobleman, he quickly gets under the skin of Winona Ryder’s Mina, the reincarnation of Elisabeta, and wins her unswerving allegiance. Not too surprising, considering Mina’s only alternative in the smoochie-smoochie stakes is lowly clerk Jonathan Harker, woodenly played by the almost hiliariously uncharismatic Keanu Reeves.
Dracula, of course, is simultaneously leeching the life out of Mina’s bezzie mate, slutty Lucy Westerna, played by Sadie Frost. Lucy has a loyal little band of male followers surrounding her who gladly provide her with their blood when Dracula takes hers. Ultimately though, even the clever ministrations of Anthony Hopkins’s wonderfully dramatic and over-the-top Professor Van Helsing fail to save poor old Lucy.
Lucy dies, comes back as a vampire and is put to death appropriately in some brilliant scenes by Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood, the same Arthur Holmwood who’d been dying to get hitched to her when she was alive. Or, um, at least, not un-Dead…
Good old Gary Oldman as Dracula then swaps haemoglobin with the not unwilling Mina in some surprisingly sexy and even tender scenes. Meanwhile, Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood and the rest of Mina’s suitors, Jack Seward and Quincy P. Morris, are running around like headless chickens trying to destroy and/or render useless the boxes of earth from Dracula’s native Transylvania without which the Count is unable to travel. They eventually burst in on the loved-up couple, but are they in time or is it much, much too late to save Mina from a fate worse than death…? Mind you, I say ‘a fate worse than death’ but the prim little schoolmarm looks happy enough to me to be with The Fanged One. I’m just saying, is all…
The sets and costumes are lavish and visually stunning, as we might expect from director Francis Ford Coppola. This is not a low-budget affair. The love story works for me, though I know some people don’t dig it. The Vampire Chicks are absolute knock-outs, but even they can’t coax a life-like performance out of Keanu Reeves. Is it because they’re un-Dead, or is he just a bit crap…? I’ll leave you guys to make up your own minds…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: