With his new film, Dario Argento has given Dracula a contemporary makeover. In keeping with the original theme of Bram Stoker’s popular tale, Dracula is a Count with a large, empty home. The story’s modern refresher involves layers of visual dimension and a splash of gore.
In 1893 a young, married couple has been pulled away from each other. The husband, Jonathan, played by Unax Ugalde, is called to the estate of a nobleman under the guise of itemizing his priceless – though very neglected – library. However, it is not a freshly catalogued library, but Mina, Jonathan’s wife, whom the employer covets.
For audiences, Dracula 3-D is a trip through the avid imagination of Director Dario Argento whose other titles have re-written the idea of thrillers and horror films. This interpretation of the classic story of Dracula is no exception. Argento and his very dedicated Italian crew have reconstructed this tortured account of the downside of possession.
Thomas Kretschmann is Count Dracula. Though he drinks blood, holds opposition to silver and never casts a reflection, this Count is lean, languid and blonde. In the small Transylvania town of Passo Borgo, he presents himself as a patron saint while holding court with the impromptu chamber of commerce for the souls of its citizens.
Producers Giovanni Paolucci and Roberto Di Girolamo acknowledged early into production that bringing this film to the screen would pose quite a challenge. To take such a literary classic and morph it into a 3-D gem revealed stereoscopic challenges during filming as well as in post-production. However, the collective end-goal of the team was to manifest a work comparable to big budget American cinema.
Producers were adamant that the cast be international. Appropriately so, digital effects were constructed by Rebel Alliance International, an American company. Claudio Simonetti’s music compliments the eerie and ambitious project.
Audiences will note how in true gothic form the colors and shadows used for wardrobe and throughout the cinematography are dark and foreboding. Day scenes, though drenched in sunlight, seem ominous. The wealthy members of Passo Borgo are at a loss when attempting to enjoy the mundane for fear of Count Dracula’s thirst and unpredictable ways.
Asia Argento is Lucy, friend to Mina and daughter of Director Argento. Lucy reaches out to her friend who she hopes to entertain in the wake of her husband’s absence. Mina, Marta Gastini, is ever bright and delightful, even as she pines for her husband’s well-being under the demands of his overbearing employer. As the Count grows restless awaiting the culmination of much plodding and planning, the small town will never be the same again.
Rutger Hauer is known to bring much personality to the screen. He does not disappoint audiences as Van Helsing, a no-nonsense slayer of the undead. Van Helsing arrives in Passo Borgo to eliminate the pox that threatens to overtake the community of townsfolk and their happy, provincial lives.
Dracula 3-D was filmed in Piedmont during nine weeks of shooting, preceded by eight weeks of pre-production. After eight months of post-production at technical facilities in Lazio, the finished product is no less than a labor of love.
Dracula 3-D is a romantic and playful ode to Bram Stoker. It fluctuates between seemingly authentic footage of the time and campy cinematic crescendo. This is the film that literary buffs should watch when hoping to break from the norm of traditional period pieces. Additionally, appreciators of science fiction can enjoy the care taken to craft and mold such a beloved mainstay into a potentially cult phenomenon.