Dario Argento is universally regarded as one of the true icons of horror directors. For nearly four decades he’s been churning out movies, with the most notable being his work in the Giallo sub-genre; if you look at various lists of what are regarded as the best horror films of all time, there’s a high chance you’ll see Suspiria (1997) crop up on the majority of them. However, in recent years, the fans and critics haven’t been too kind to old Dario; his last few offerings have been met with either divisiveness, hostility or disinterest – it’s been awhile since he’s had a film that’s been widely praised. In 2012, he tried his hand at one of horrors most famous and regurgitated stories – Dracula. Was it a return to form for the old maestro?
Dracula 3D was met with scorn; many of his most ardent fans considered it a final nail in the coffin of a director who hasn’t been good for a long, long time? But is Dracula 3D so bad that it deserves such a panning? Yes it is; not only is the acting terrible, the dialogue cheesy and the direction uninspired, but it doesn’t feel like a movie any credible filmmaker would have made, let alone one of the most influential genre filmmakers of all time. But, is it entertaining? You better believe it is.
Argento’s Dracula doesn’t offer any new take on the old tale, but it’s a highly entertaining combination of classic Hammer horror aesthetic, 1970’s Euro sleaze and campy catastrophe that tells it in a way we’ve never seen it before. What it lacks in being an adequate, passable or good attempt at making a horror film it makes up for in nudity, unintentional comedy and random nonsensical stupidity, such as giant mantis’ and awful CGI wolf transformations – and more. The gore is good, Asia Argento gets naked and Rutger Hauer happily shows up for a pay check, so add those to the list of positives.
It isn’t all fun and games, however; a movie this ridiculous shouldn’t be any longer than 80 minutes, but Argento decides to punish his viewers for 110 minutes, making up the moments between fun with long spells of tedious garbage. But it’s not enough to deter the movie from being an entertaining exercise in cinematic idiocy. Dracula 3D might not make you afraid of vampires – it’s more likely to make the average viewer wish one would show up and drain the lifeblood from their body – but, if you want a good chuckle then it’s well worth a look. 4/10.
Dario Argento, Enrique Sterezo, Stefano Piani, Antonio Tentori
Thomas Kretschmann, Asia Argento, Marta Gastini, Rutger Hauer