Anthony's Film Review
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Francis Ford Coppolla brings the classic horror novel by Bram Stoker to stunning life...
The fictional vampire Count Dracula has been ingrained in American pop culture, primarily through numerous cinematic portrayals by actors such as Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, just to name a few. But people may forget that Dracula was the late 19th-century literary creation of novelist Bram Stoker. Like the horror movie character Frankenstein, based on the novel by Mary Shelley, the original character of Dracula as envisioned by the author has been supplanted by an everlasting altered image of the character in movies. It is perhaps this observation that led director Francis Ford Coppola to create a 1992 film version of Dracula that mirrors the novel much more closely.
Bram Stoker's Dracula stars Gary Oldman as the title character, who is hideous and evil at first glance but ultimately has a tragic human side. As the film's prologue illustrates, Dracula was a 15th-century Roman knight who was thought to have died in battle, which leads his wife Elisabeta to kill herself. In a moment of grief, he desecrates the cross by stabbing it with his sword and drinks blood coming out of it. This, of course, is the moment when he becomes a vampire that needs to feed on the blood of others to stay alive.
Fast forward to the 19th century. The story introduces lawyer Jonathan Harker (played by Keanu Reeves), who is asked to manage the estate of Count Dracula. When Jonathan arrives at Dracula's estate, he discovers a place that is rather eerie and dark. It is not long before Dracula asks him to write a letter back to his fiance, Mina Murray, that he will need to stay with Dracula for another month to handle business. That's when a few strange things happen, most notably a moment when three vampire women attempt to sexually seduce him.
Meanwhile. Mina begins to worry a little about Jonathan being away for so long. Dracula eventually enters the picture because he has seen a picture of Mina that Jonathan possesses and essentially falls in love with her. There's a reason for this: Mina resembles his beloved Elisabeta. (In fact, actress Winona Ryder plays both of those women.) Before that happens, however, Dracula seduces and rapes Mina's friend Lucy (played by Sadie Frost), turning her into a vampire.
Lucy exhibits a mysterious illness, one that even Dr. Jack Seward (played by Richard Grant) cannot diagnose. The only hope comes in a man who has deep knowledge of strange diseases and the occult: Professor Abraham Van Helsing (played by Anthony Hopkins). He has no doubt that Lucy has become a vampire, a nosferatu, that requires the blood of others to survive, because her own red blood cells will eventually burst after some time. From there, there is a team effort to kill Dracula once and for all, forever eliminating a dreadful curse from this world.
This is a horror movie that handles scary scenes equally well with drama scenes. It also presents the story at a pace that is neither too slow nor too fast. The result is that the drama scenes carry the story along for a while without being boring, and the scary scenes, when they do come, are indeed pretty frightening. In addition to horror, there is sex thrown into the mix, such that some horror scenes feel suspenseful as well as semi-erotic. As for performances by the cast, Keanu Reeves seems to be somewhat miscast, but otherwise, I liked the actors and actresses here, especially Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing.
While I can't say that this movie version of Dracula is the best one out there, at least it's much better than average. It's engrossing, creepy, and ultimately exciting. Francis Ford Coppola made plenty of effort to bring the story to life in a way that is as intriguing for movie lovers as much as the original novel was for readers back in the day. Fans of the original literary Dracula will likely enjoy this movie, and for those who love the movie Dracula, this is a realistic version that can definitely frighten us. If anyone ever has to decide which Dracula movies are among the best, here is one to not overlook.
For more information about Bram Stoker's Dracula, visit the Internet Movie Database.