Vampires know three things. We know the best bars in which to meet young women with poor judgment. We know the pervasive boredom of eternal existence. And we know quality entertainment. I refer to entertainment that can ameliorate boredom even when you have just consumed your fifth girl named Ashley this month.
I, Baron Yörg, have patronized entertainment and the arts for more than 500 years. I feel qualified to express educated opinions, and have been asked to share my views on films, to which I have become devoted. I am pleased to select “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” for my first review.
My initial reaction to the film was, “My God, Gary Oldman makes the real Dracula look like an unshaven, sweaty gypsy at the Wine Festival.” Mr. Oldman is rather homely himself—no aspersions intended—so this says something about Dracula’s true lack of beauty. I believe this shows intelligent casting by the film makers, since an overly-pretty vampire lacks credibility. It is difficult to bend the forces of darkness to your will if they are wondering whether you are wearing eyeliner. Jack Palance portrayed Dracula in an earlier film, and he possessed the ideal look. He would have intimidated the armies of Hell even had he been a baker rather than a vampire.
Lest my praise become too effusive, I must take issue with the wardrobe. I understand artistic license. Indeed, I enjoyed Shakespeare’s libelous hatchet-job on Richard III. But if Victorian Englishwomen had slept in costumes such as those seen in this film, the nation would have been depopulated by pneumonia long since. In addition, some of Dracula’s costumes would present insurmountable challenges when one wished to slaughter and terrorize. Supernatural abilities mean nothing when one is burdened with a 20 foot long embroidered oriental robe that could easily clothe an entire family of Chinese peasants. Finally, I must express astonishment at Dracula’s double-beehive hair that caused him to resemble a demonic Dolly Parton. Should I ever meet the person responsible, I shall tear out his throat forthwith.
The supporting cast delivered lovely performances. Sir Anthony Hopkins portrayed Van Helsing with his customary verve. He showed us a Van Helsing who would be a pleasure to torture to death in shrieking agony. Subsequent years have shown us what a treasure Sir Anthony is for film lovers, and I may choose to transform him into a howling undead fiend so that we may all enjoy his performances for many years to come.
The script adhered nicely to Mr. Stoker’s rather fanciful tale. I recall those actual events as involving rather fewer moaning girls and locomotive rides, and rather more mutilations and tedious waiting around for sunset. The portrayal of Renfield reeked of perfection, almost as if Renfield sat at the screenwriter’s left hand, which is a disturbing thought even to me.
Director Tim Burton crafted an appallingly dark vision of the story, for which he should be congratulated. He has produced some fine work in the years since this film, although after “Corpse Bride” the Diabolical Chamber of Malevolent Arts tripled his dues, placed a hex upon his home, and mislaid his invitation to the Christmas party.
At the end of all things, how do I assess this film? It comes down to this—Gary Oldman made me believe that he could defile the innocent, annihilate his enemies, and commit acts of soul-shattering evil. Sadly, the same may not be said of all vampire portrayals today. I bestow upon this film four horrific destructions of the human spirit, out of five.