Friday, August 15, 2014

Countdown to DRACULA UNTOLD: Recap 6: THE DEAD UNDEAD

Once again into the breach! In preparation for the release of DRACULA UNTOLD (Oct. 17), Jeanette Battista and Molly Harper are recapping our favorite movies involving Luke Evans and/or vampires.  Because we love Luke Evans and we love vampires.  So this movie officially hits the Molly/Jeanette obsession jackpot. We’ve covered THE RAVEN, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, FAST 6, DRACULA 2000 and now, Molly recaps one of her favorite (but for all the wrong reasons) vampire movies, THE DEAD UNDEAD.
Molly: OK, so this is where I have a confession to make. I have a somewhat inappropriate, married lady crush on Luke Goss.  (Jeanette insists I’m simply obsessed with men name Luke, which is a plausible theory.) I have seen DEATH RACE 2 & 3 about twenty times each. I have actually based a few of my romance novel heroes off of Luke Goss’s appearance. Because I have a thing for lanky bald guys, just ask my husband.
And since THE DEAD UNDEAD combines Luke Goss and vampires, I am on board for this movie. And yes, BLADE 2, a movie with a much higher budget, also featured vampires and Luke Goss. But it was blue-tinged, resentful “lower face split apart by a weird vampire virus” Luke Goss, which was not as enjoyable.  So I’ll stick with a movie that vampirizes Luke Goss, but lets him keep that pretty face and throw on SWAT gear, thank you very much.
If you’re watching this movie on Netflix - and I hope you are - press play NOW.
We open with a classic “Camera on a super fast track demonstrating something’s POV as it runs through the forest.” It’s twilight – but not that kind of Twilight! – and some badass-looking soldier dudes are running through the woods after the unnamed thing, using every tactical stance the technical advisor showed them in rehearsal ALL AT ONCE.  There’s blaring, repetitive electric guitar music, so you know they mean business. 
And suddenly, daytime. A ominously rattling Jeep full of college kids on a road trip dies in front of the ubiquitously named “Lakeside Motel.”  There’s Dude 1 and Dude 2 - whose names I won’t remember because they’re going to die - plus three girls, in this photogenic posse.  One of the girls emerges as the bitchy brunette, which mean she’s probably going to die first.  On behalf of bitchy brunettes everywhere, I find this offensive.
Unfortunately, for this adorable, but stranded, group of students, the motel is completely unoccupied … in the middle of the day… during tourist season.  And this doesn’t strike any alarm bells for them. Oh, no! They go swim in the lake and wait for the motel clerk to show up!  
In the time it took to reach the “bikini reveals,” I came up with 42 potential and plausible reasons not to swim in a lake adjacent to an abandoned motel, including a giant mutant alligator, scary zombie hillbillies, flesh-eating algae, scary regular hillbillies, a rogue bull shark, an axe murderer and the possibility that the cast of Jersey Shore could show up.  
I believe the reason I’ve made it to my thirties is that I never went on a Spring Break road trip. Not because I was virtually penniless or had strict parents. I just didn’t want to be viciously murdered by a maniac or a mutant sea creature.
The kids complete their swim and return to the motel and surprise, it’s still empty. So they do what any sensible youngster would do - steal room keys and check themselves in, instead of maybe using the phone to call AAA and get them out of this backwoods death trap.
Summer, who is clearly the “nice blond who will survive,” based on her generally sweet demeanor and basic smarts, showers. Because of reasons.  Meanwhile, her friend, Megan, naps and wakes up to a creepy kid standing over her, drooling blood onto her forehead. Summer, who has managed to get dressed down to her tennis shoes while her friend is being creeped on, shoves the kid in to a shaft of sunlight and he starts smoking.
Megan flips her shit while Dude 2 yells, “It’s not your blood!” in her face, cause that’s super-helpful.  Megan runs to the shower and the camera pans to her mouth, where she is sucking in the creepy kid’s blood and shower water in her hysterics. This seems significant.
Shelly, the bitchy brunette, is drunk on smuggled wine, freaking out over a mouse and perceived slights, while the Dudes run pointlessly around the motel and strange, growly men wander up and down the motel hall, unnoticed.
Please, Summer, feed Shelly to those guys. It’s for the greater good.
Inexplicably, night has fallen in the five minutes since Summer shoved that kid into a super-bright shaft of mid-day sunlight. The Dudes fight off incredibly acrobatic people in tattered clothes who growl and bare their fangs.  They are vampires… or zombies… or zomb-pires! Super-fast parkour zomb-pires!  That’s a triple whammy!  
Back at the motel, Summer is throwing liquid soap on the floor and arming herself with a lamp. From now on, when I go to a motel, the first thing I’m checking is the potential weaponization of all lamps.
I kind of like how they don’t waste time in this movie on the “vampire zombies don’t exist!” debate. They just start shooting. More movie characters should do this.
Meanwhile, Megan doesn’t feel so good, which doesn’t bode well. 
Dude 2 is bitten while Dude 1 wastes his time shooting a zombie vampire who was crawling away from them. Also, all of the vampire zombies Dude 1 just shot are rising again, because he didn’t shoot them in the head.  Dude 1 is useless.
Cue the rolling screech of a classic 80s (windowless) panel van, complete with the same repetitive guitar music. The door swings open and a pair of combat boots stomp to the dusty ground with purpose. Could it be? 
IT IS!
It’s the SWAT team from earlier, lead by that hunk of tactical vampire goodness, Jack (Luke Goss), who is clearly in charge because he is the best-looking.  Also , there is a lady with biceps so developed, I’m pretty sure she could bench press me with one hand and the van with the other. The SWAT team unleashes a bunch of ammo on the sudden waves of zomb-pires pouring out of the woods surrounding the motel. 
Dude 1 gets his throat slashed by a vampire zombie and dies.  Why not Shelly? Why? This ruins my “bitchy girls die first” theory. Also, Shelly is annoying.
A random guy has managed to wander through the zomb-pire-infested woods, looking for his wife. And despite the fact that his name is Lance and he’s covered in blood, Aries, clearly the most gullible vampire alive, says, “You seem OK” and accepts him into the fold. I mean, his name is “Lance,” you know that mean’s he’s a douche.
Meanwhile, Summer disables Doc, the weakest member of the vampire SWAT team with her trusty soap and hair spray. Also, Viper, the beefiest member of the team, has issues with garden gnomes. (I can’t blame him.  Those things ARE creepy.) And zomb-pires. He freaking hates zomb-pires.
Realizing that pasty, sweaty Megan is infected, Doc ties her and Dude 2 to the motel beds with sheets, assuring Shelly and Summer that they’ll be fine, they just might start having uh, seizures! That’s right, seizures. Pay no attention to their pallor or developing fangs!
Summer overhears Doc tell Jack her friends are “done,” so she steals a handgun and runs into the motel to stop him. She points a gun at Jack’s head (Summer endangered Jack’s face! She has to go!) but Doc disarms her with a classic “Raising Arizona” reference.  Point of interest, Summer’s friends are now hissing, snarling zomb-pires.
The team takes this moment to explain that “ZVs” (I don’t care, I’m sticking with zomb-pires) have to be burned or put in the sun to die. Shooting them in the head disrupts their brain function for a few seconds, but they can keep going. Which begs the question, why is the vampire SWAT team shooting them?
I mean, that basically undoes the logic of the first thirty minutes of this movie… Because… Damn it, Luke Goss, stop biting your lip! And put your distracting accent away!
Meanwhile, Megan and Dude 2 are STILL snarling zomb-pires.  Dude 2 manages to break sheet bonds and bite Aries.  And despite knowing Aries is going to turn into a zomb-pire, the team lets him live because of loyalty and logistics and all that crap.
Shelly is still annoying. Also, she decides to steal the vampires’ van- always, a good idea – and wrecks it.  This may have disabled the only means of escape, but Shelly is dead, so it’s a tradeoff, really.
Summer is super-annoyed at having her vacation ruined and Jack hugs her, whispering comforting words against her hair. I wish this was the policy for all ruined vacations, because I’ve had some doozies, and attractive vampires murmuring sweet nonsense to me would have made things a lot better.
Viper and Doc are handling a mysterious box with care and debating whether “the stories” are true. Apparently, the box is like eternal life “insurance” for vampires. They carry a box of blood samples around from all of the vampires in their community, in the hope that someday, they’ll find a way to clone them and bring them back… or something. 
Something just exploded and I’m not sure why. Bicep Lady, who has been missing for the last twenty minutes, dispatches zomb-pires left and right.  Viper puts together a Giant Freaking Gun. And while that is impressive… remember that part about bullets not killing the zomb-pires?  Am I the only one who remembers that?
Aries starts screaming and thrashing, clearly overcome with his infection. Doc’s about to blow him up and suddenly, we’re in a flashback.  Dudes in ill-fitting medieval outfits are fighting in what… looks like the exact same woods we’re been hanging out in for the last forty minutes. Aries and Bicep Lady are fighting and clearly don’t like each other much. They kill each other, but make friends before their dying breaths. Fortunately, a cloaked vampire Jack happens upon them and turns them to keep them from dying. (It happens, in some of the best books, it happens.) 
Bicep Lady, who hasn’t been bitten or bled on, turns into a zomb-pire and the team dispatches her without blinking.
Lance proves his douche-ness and shoots out the tires on the van, reallydisabling it this time.
Summer and Lance are just now figuring out that the SWAT team is composed of vampires. Which lands them firmly in the “How are you still alive?” category of clueless.  Because there was a whole drill team waving “vampire red flags” and Summer and Lance missed ALL of them.  The vampires patiently explains that they’re from a peaceful settlement of vegetarian vampires – but not like Twilight, oh no, nothing like that – and they’re a little sensitive about the whole “humans wanting to kill vampires” thing.  Also, they don’t like the Goth movement. Feeding on cow’s blood instead of human has left them weaker than their natural state. This weakness is making it harder for them to fight the zomb-pires, their former vampire neighbors who fell ill with mad cow disease and started rampaging across the countryside.
Jack, clearly trying to emotionally distance himself after hugging Summer before, is mean to everyone.  But Lance is still douchier.
Viper has a vampire origin flashback involving the Vietnam War. Clearly, Vampire Jack really got around in the old days.
Lance uses his daytime mobility advantage to replace the van tire, but instead of maybe driving to a sporting goods store, calling the national guard, or at least getting Summer to safety, they just hang around the motel waiting for the vampires to wake up.
The zomb-pires are sleeping in a bunch of abandoned mines during the day. (Why do companies abandon mines? Nothing good ever comes of it.)  So the team sets a bunch of traps for them. Jack tries to make up for his earlier meanness by suggestively helping Summer carve sticks into stakes and being all charming.
And… cue Doc’s Old West origin flashback about tolerance and anti-vampire discrimination. My only regret is not getting to see Vampire Jack in a cowboy hat.
Lance sees his wife silhouetted against the moonlight, which of course means, that he can’t see her vampire-zombie face and she eats him.  I will admit that the idea of my zomb-pire spouse tracking me down and killing me is pretty terrifying.  I’m just glad Lance is dead.
Jack and Summer are the last ones standing and Jack is super-broody about the whole lonely vampire thing.  They drive the van – again, the last available mode of transportation – to the mines to blow them up. The bombing doesn’t go as planned, of course, and the van gets disabled… again.
Summer hurts her ankle, a long-standing tradition amongst horror/action heroines, much like the Hero’s Shoulder Wound. She and Jack are stuck in the flipped van, during the day, and Jack isn’t doing so well without his cow’s blood provisions.
Summer snuggles up to Jack and offers her neck, which is the most realistic moment in this entire movie. Because that is exactly what I would do if I was trapped in a van with a vampirized Luke Goss. 
No seriously, just ask Jeanette.
Jack gets all growly and “You don’t know what you’re asking!” but ultimately, Summer rips off her hemp necklace and Jack drinks the hell out of her.  There’s symbolism there, but I’m unwilling to explore it. 
Having consumed real human blood (laced with the cumulative effects of every Red Bull that Summer ever drank), Jack is a one-vampire fighting force, dispatching zomb-pires with prejudice while the electric guitar wail.  Suddenly, a posse of vampires shows up, and shoots the zomb-pires. (Again, am I the only one who remembers the ineffectiveness of shooting zomb-pires?)
The posse’s likeable leader, Raleigh, disparages Jack’s veggie lifestyle and flirts with Summer.  Her new hinted vampirism seems to have cured her ankle owie.  Raleigh hints that Jack’s magic box full of blood samples may actually be able to resurrect his buddies, if he brings the box to some exotic location known only to Raleigh. Jack’s all, “Hey, sweetie, I bit you and you can’t really go home now that you know all of our vampire-y secrets.  Wanna try for a better vacation, in which some of the hotels have employees present?” And Summer is on board, because… honestly, I shouldn’t have to explain why at this point.
Raleigh and Jack laugh and shake hands in a manly fashion. Freeze frame. Dramatic music. Shelly and Lance are dead. All is right with the world.
Ultimately, DEAD UNDEAD is not an awesome movie. But it is a very earnest movie and there are a few pretty excellent action sequences and solid one-liners. It’s not the first movie to use the “oh, crap vampires just got more dangerous because now they’re zombies” concept. But I think the producers had the most fun with it.  And that’s what matters most.
Also, vampire Luke Goss. So there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order! THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE


Look what's available for Pre-Order! THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE explores Gigi's story, started in I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS. It will be available in print, ebook and audio from your favorite retailers in March 2015.

It's available for pre-order now at Amazon.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Countdown to Dracula Untold: Recap 3: The Raven

And now, Jeanette Battista and I switch gears slightly in our Countdown to Dracula Untold (in theatres, Oct. 17), changing from recapping our favorite vampire movies to our favorite Luke Evans movies.  The Raven, starring John Cusack and Luke Evans, is a re-imagining of Edgar Allen Poe as a crimesolver, which makes sense, since he was the father of the detective story.
We open on a combination of super-discordant music and ominous imagery. Ye Old Time-y cops stumble into a boarding house room where a very recently dispatched woman and her daughter are bloody and broken on the floor (or stuffed up the chimney.) It’s a classic, locked room murder, with no way in or out except the previously mentioned barred door and a window that’s been nailed shut. The police are stumped.
Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack)  is stumbling about the foggy streets of Baltimore, poking at dead animal carcasses, drinking and babbling philosophically. As one does.  He wanders into a bar, where he has clearly worn out his welcome before with unpaid tabs and erratic behavior, like snatching drinks from PAYING customers and calling them “mouth-breathers” when they haven’t heard of his work.  
I can confirm that every writer everywhere has felt exactly like Edgar, basically begging people to acknowledge that they’ve heard of his poems. Only, instead of yelling, “I am Poe, mouth-breather, not poor!” I want to yell, “If you don’t like sex scenes, don’t read books clearly labeled ‘sexy’ on the cover!” But I digress.
Also, I may or not have “Vive Le France!” saved as an audio clip to listen to whenever I feel unappreciated.
And here we have the reason for this whole recapping exercise, the man himself, Luke Evans as police Inspector Emmett Fields, emerging from his carriage like a goddang gentleman. In the murder house, he examines the bodies respectfully, making intelligent observations in a delightfully husky American accent.
Emmett notes that a spring-catch on the nailed window allows it to open from the inside, and realizes that he’s read about particular murder-y detail before. Cut to Edgar, hungover and sad, climbing into his girlfriend’s dad’s carriage to mock him with not-so-subtle intellectual snobbery and basically call Charles Hamilton a capitalist mouth-breather. Because the quickest way to a girl’s heart is to really, really piss off her dad.
Actually, that’s not too far off.
Emily Hamilton, the pretty blond secretly rebellious girlfriend, pretends she doesn’t luuuuurve to see her dad knocked down a peg, and makes a show of rejecting Edgar’s advances.
And cut to a newspaper literary critic who is very close to being literally cut. By a Mysterious Figure operating a giant sharpened pendulum. (And by now, your inner Poe nerd should be saying, “Waaaaait a minute!”)
Poe storms into a newspaper office, furious that his scathing review of Emerson has been replaced by a poem.  After working for newspapers for almost ten years, I can confirm that yes, it is totally realistic to leave work expecting your story that you labored on all day to appear in the paper and wake up to a newspaper that contains the weekly cattle report instead. And that it is very, very frustrating.
And back to the Halved Critic, then straight to Edgar dissecting a human heart. Because of reasons. And he’s playing with his pet raccoon, Carl. As one does.
For the record, you get some really messed up results when you Google, “Did Edgar Allen Poe have a pet raccoon?”
Emily visits and is not put off by the heart or Carl.  Emily wrangles a rather sexy proposal out of Edgar. We get it. She’s a snarky, positive counter-balance to Edgar’s darkness.  Where the hell is Emmett?
Thank God, there he is, fiddling with hair evidence that seems to be attracted to a magnet, Emmett makes it clear he doesn’t like Edgar, his work, his gloomy attitude or his tendency of wandering around drunk at night near Emmett’s crime scenes.
Basically, it’s the “Dude Vs. The Sherriff” scene from The Big Lebowski, only with mutton-chop sideburns.
Edgar’s editor, Maddux, is the least helpful friend ever, basically standing over the Halved Critic and giving Emmett a long list of reasons why Edgar probably did it. And then tries to cover by giving an equally long list of reasons why Edgar is such a sad panda.  Emmett responds by showing Edgar the Halved Critic’s body while basically recruiting him to help the police department solve the murders based on Poe’s work, which would be a much better premise for a TV show than another CSI franchise.
Poe further pokes at his future-father-in-law, with the line, “If I’d known my work would prove so inspirational to people, I would have devoted more time to eroticism.” Even Emmett, Mr. Stoic, looks at him with a “Dude, no.” expression.  But secretly, I think he cheers Edgar’s sass.
P.S., I believe that Edgar Allen Poe would have written some awesome erotica.
Edgar shows some sense and tells Emily, maybe we shouldn’t announce our secret engagement at your birthday masquerade ball, which is pretty much a set up for my story, The Mask of the Red Death.  And Emily’s all, “I am almost twenty, unmarried and likely to die of consumption. You will announce our engagement, Poe!”
And then… Emmett puts on his masquerade mask and my lady bits literally whimper.
It’s just not fair.
Emmett and Charles fall for the old, “skeleton guy riding a horse into a masquerade ball” gambit and Emily is snatched in front of hundreds of witnesses. The Figure leaves Edgar a note saying, “Either solve my riddles based on your stories or I will kill your girl.” EVERYBODY yells at Emmett and he has to settle the bitches down.
Emily wakes up in a sealed casket with a guy whispering threats to her, a situation that sucks in general, but has to suck even worse when you’re stuck in a corset and can’t move enough to get out of it.
The bit where the doctors are gathered around the coffin and suddenly, they hear noises from inside is my fear at every funeral I go to. Seriously. I am not proud.
Luke Evans seems to be trying to act without moving his lips. Is this a by-product of the American accent? It’s sort of strange, like watching a series of still photographs. Very beautiful still photographs.
Also, I just want to note that Mr. Evans has longer than average canine teeth. And you know what they say about guys with long teeth, they make great Draculas.
Edgar and Emmett bond.  And even then, Edgar is sort of creepy about it.
Can we talk about why Emmett and Edgar aren’t more shocked by finding a human tongue in the theatre?  Or that Edgar’s house blows up?  Thank God, Carl made it out alive.
Emily is handling this imprisonment in a coffin thing like a BOSS, calmly drilling extra air-holes and trying to get her captor to see her as a person, while ignoring those pesky symptoms of dehydration.  Also, her captor is sort of a dick.
Edgar shows up on Emmett’s doorstep with a forlorn look on his face and asks, “How do you feel about raccoons?”  The pair of them get into a roommate brawl far earlier than schedule, screaming at each other over Emmett’s thoroughness while the Figure lurks outside.
Emmett actually raises his voice.  (sigh)
The post-Civil War Hardy Boys agree not to fight. 
Exposition. Exposition. Exposition.  The boys sift through clues, each relating to a piece of info from one of Edgar’s stories by the thinnest referential thread. Emmett looks incredulous a lot.  Charles actually starts to see Edgar’s strong points when his daughter’s life is on the line.
Emmett is shot in the classic “Hero’s Shoulder Wound.” The Figure endangered Emmett.  The Figure has to go.
And no, I have not worn the white marks off of my pause button, just so I can admire Luke Evans shirtless.  Really.
So there are a lot of GIFs circulating of this scene where Emmett gets the bullet removed, because he’s arching back on the pillow with that expression of exertion… and it looks like something else.
Personally, I can’t write when my kids are in the next room arguing, much less when my loved ones are in mortal danger. But I’m not Edgar Allen Poe.  So I’ll just believe that he’s capable of writing a masterpiece under duress.
Emily punches her way out of the coffin, only to get chloroformed by the Figure. I’m getting really sick of his shit.
Edgar flips out and tries to choke his editor, which in general, is a really bad idea, career-wise. And legally.  Also, attempted murder creates a hostile work environment.
Individually, Emmett and Edgar put the last of the forensics together and storm to the newspaper office. The editor is dead. And personally, I had Ivan Reynolds pegged as the bad guy from the beginning of the film.  Why? Because again, I wrote for newspapers and no one who works in a press-room is ever that nice.
In exchange for information about Emily’s whereabouts, Edgar takes one last fatal drink. Ivan the Jerk prattles on about how he made murder-y fanfiction of Edgar’s work. But Ivan’s over Edgar and is moving onto Paris to stalk Jules Verne.  (How exactly would that have worked out?  Ivan would have constructed a giant submarine and forced Verne into going on undersea adventures with him?”)
You have to admire the casting, though, the actor that plays Ivan is fantastic. The tension in his face is terrifying.
Edgar digs up the newspaper office floor, where Emily has been buried all along.  Again, having worked in newspapers, I believe this is possible. Poisoned and miserable, he helps Emily escape, promising that he’s right behind her as she stumbles toward Ye Old Ambulance. But of course, he stumbles to the park bench and dies, ranting at strangers to “Tell Fields, it’s Reynolds!”, referencing the name the real Poe called out just before he died.
Emmett gets this news and is pissed right the hell off. Ivan is the smuggest smug who ever smugged, sauntering out of a train station in Paris. But Emmett is waiting in his private carriage, “Not so fast, Mr. Literary Stalker Man!” And we end with the dramatic report of a gunshot.
I really love this movie.  I love the angsty references to the life of a writer. I love the drama.  I love the sly, dark humor. And while this is a pretty subdued performance, I have no doubt that Luke Evans has the chops to play Dracula. He’s like a sexy volcano, waiting to erupt… with fangs… sexy fangs.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Countdown to Dracula Untold: Recap 2: Bram Stoker's Dracula

Hello and welcome to our second installment of Countdown to Dracula Untold, a project Molly Harper and Jeanette Battista started to indulge in two of their favorite things: vampires and Luke Evans. We’re recapping vampire movies AND Luke Evans movies in anticipation of the ultimate Luke Evans/Vampire movie opening on October 17, 2014. Join us every Friday for our celebration of the good, the bad, and the fanged.

Today’s burnt offering is…Bram Stoker’s Dracula!
Full disclosure—I love this movie in spite of—or maybe because of—its cheesiness and innate 90’s weirdness. The whack-a-doo performances, the ridiculous casting, the over the top effects, all the blood…this is just so good I want to hug it and pet it and call it George. And now, away we go…
First off, damn, I love this score. I own it and it totally rocks. Now, on to the movie!
We open with some gorgeous mood establishing shots of an onion dome, a stone cross, some smoke and Anthony Hopkins’ narration.
Look, A MAP! Dora the Undead Explorer is going to pop up any minute, I just know it.
Blah blah blah, Constantinople (Istanbul!), Turks invading, fires, a red armored gauntlet holding a sword, Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins (as the priest) having a beard off, Dracula’s helm that looks like it has kitty ears, Winona Ryder macking on Dracula in a church (get a room, dude!), and….
BLOOD AND FIRE! In silhouette because Coppola decided to be arty. It almost looks like he just got bored and/or went overbudget and said, “F*ck it, let’s use shadow puppets!” Also, people impaled on stakes.
Anyway, Dracula removes his helm and shakes free his gorgeous long locks of bouncing and behaving Pantene hair and kisses the cross just so we know that he’s y’know, CHRISTIAN.
Blah blah blah, riding, Turks are lying liars who lie, Winona goes cliff diving, Drac is PISSED. Back at the chapel of Castle Dracula, he weeps over the body of his dead wife while Priest Anthony Hopkins UNHELPFULLY tells him that Elizabetta is damned because she committed suicide. Like seriously, dude, give the man a little time. He impaled a shit ton of Turks, comes home to find his wife dead and her soul damned. He’s had a rough day.
Dracula takes this about as well as can be expected of a man who IMPALES people for fun and profit. He goes ape, curses God, throws Priest Hopkins out and decides to stab the giant cross on the altar with his sword. It bleeds, as stone crosses apparently do in medieval Walachia, and he drinks the blood.
Wow. That’s, like, a lot of blood.
Fast forward to London, 1897. Renfield has lost all of his marbles in various places, so the law firm has called in Jonathan Harker to take his place as Count Dracula’s Guy Friday. And here we have the most horrifying casting decision EVER. Keanu Reeves is Harker. Him and his atrocious accent and floppy stupid hair are a horror more terrible than anything Drac could dream up for the Turks.
Mina and Harker make out under a trellis so we can get to all of the sexing subtext that was present in a lot of the Victorian penny dreadfuls. Harker heads out and I swear to God, if I have to listen to Keanu’s ridiculous pronunciation of Budapest one more time, I’m going to take a freakin’ hostage. Anyway, he’s going to the Carpathians to see his employer.
Weird closeup of eyeball as Harker reads Dracula’s nice little welcome note. Vampires are so fancy!
Mina is typing in her boring diary and basically doing the Victorian version of doodling hearts and Mina + Jonathan 4-ever on her Trapper Keeper.
Jonathan gets left in the middle of a path in the mountains, in the rain, surrounded by wolves. Too bad they don’t eat him. Anyway, Drac’s carriage arrives and the coachman’s arm grows about five feet too long, but Harker is too deeply stupid to notice or be suspicious of any of this and he just blithely goes along up to the craggy castle on the hill, even passing through a ring of fire, because—hey why the hell not?!—and then he’s in the courtyard of Castle Drac.
And now for one of the most iconic, epic, and downright disturbing costuming choices EVER. Drac appears and he’s got the amazing hairdo, the weird red kimono-robe thing, and starts making bad vampire puns at the oblivious Harker. Harker insults Drac’s “ancestors” because he’s a fucking doofus and Drac speechifies at him while the soundtrack goes ominous in the background.
At this point, if Harker were smart, he’d tip his hat, pull an Eddie Murphy ala his Amityville Horror bit from Raw and “Bye, Felicia!” himself out of there.
Alas. Harker is NOT smart.
This next scene is all about the shadows doing weird shit while Drac makes more bad vampire puns. While Harker blathers on about market share and real estate, Drac notices the picture of Mina and gets all “I HAVE CROSSED OCEANS OF TIME” over her. Harker interrupts by cockblocking the Count, who does not appreciate it.
Mina and Lucy have a little girl talk about sex because the subtext is all text in this version. Lucy gets the shaft in this version, I have to say. She’s the flighty, flirty, and sexually forward girl, so of course, she’s the slutty one. Sigh. ANYWAY… Drac’s shadow touches Mina in England and scene.
Harker buys a clue. Kind of. Maybe. Drac and Harker share a shave and some bodily fluids—NOT LIKE THAT, get your mind out of the gutter!—and then Harker’s accent goes missing and Drac calls out the dogs to come find it for him. Then he dracs away on wings of night or whatever the hell he does when he’s not practicing his shadow-fu.
Harker decides to go all Tomb Raider and hits the jackpot. Dracula’s Brides pop up in bed, one of whom is Monica Freakin’ Bellucci. He gets started with his first supernatural four-way until Drac shows up to spoil all the fun. Harker screams and it is the most embarrassing thing ever captured on film.
Mina gets her disappointing letter from Jonathan who expositions us about the Count’s gypsies and gets us all up to speed on everything London related. Meanwhile, Lucy has finally picked a man and Mina frets and then they have a wet corset contest.
Dracula’s on a BOAT! More blood.
The Demeter docks in London, Drac—in wolf form— gets loose and heads to Lucy’s house. Mina goes out in the storm to find her sleepwalking friend, only to discover Wolfman Drac banging away on Lucy like a screen door in a hurricane. He performs some mind erasing mojo and neither girl remembers the horrible spectacle of his wolf-nipples. Lucy is now an infected crazy person.
Renfield shrieks, “MASTER!” a lot.
Young, hot Gary Oldman pops up from a coffin and panties combust everywhere.
The love theme plays while Drac stalks Mina/Elizabetta through the streets of London. Mina attempts to throw shade, but Drac is having none of this. He takes his creeper act away, but then Mina is all “WAIT, HE’S WAY HOTTER THAN JONATHAN AND A PRINCE!” and gets with the program.
Jack the doctor goes to see Lucy. The gentlemen all consult about Lucy’s condition. Jack calls for Van Helsing because Lucy is freaking everyone right the fuck out.
Drac and Mina engage in that tried and true first date activity and go to the movies. Mina pets a wolf. Drac doesn’t understand personal space. I didn’t realize how rapey this scene kind of is. Then they have hand sex while petting the wolf. But they are both wearing gloves so at least they are being responsible.
Back to Harker being drained by the Brides. (I secretly cheer for the Brides.)
Drac and Lucy do the blood draining horizontal mambo while Van Hopkins finally arrives. Apparently Lucy screams out Walachian when she’s having an orgasm. Anyway, blood transfusion for poor Lucy. Arthur goes all British on everyone while Lucy pants and heaves. The boys all gather outside to consult with Van Hopkins who drops some knowledge on them all. VAMPIRES!
Absinthe time! Drac tries to get Mina drunk, he tells her about his home, weird close-ups of eyes AGAIN, Mina has a past life flashback—OH JUST KISS ALREADY!—and then he makes diamonds from her tear. Drac’s got GAME, y’all. Harker is so screwed.
I’ve got good news and bad news. Good news, Harker finally leaps from the castle. Bad news, he survives. He’s suffering from a violent brain fever. Oh, so that’s what they’re calling it.
Mina goes to him, leaving Drac bereft. This is not going to end well for anybody.
“VIND! VINDS!” Also, Dracula is an ugly crier.
Van Hopkins has completely lost the plot. He’s laughing and clapping and just being Captain Inappropriate generally. He explains about vampires and then goes to eat, leaving Quincy in charge of the outside with Art inside, guarding Lucy. Drac takes care of both in about .02 seconds and then moves on to his rebound: Lucy.
I would really love to see the line item in the budget for the blood used on this movie. It’s got to be a couple hundred thousand dollars. I can just see Coppola yelling, “GET THE HOSE!” during this next scene with Lucy.
Also Mina and Harker kiss like two guppies trying very hard to be sexy but not knowing what that actually means. Horrible. And the soundtrack goes BATSHIT.
Lucy in a coffin, I know, I know, it’s serious…
Van Hopkins being Major Inappropriate at the viewing. Harker has a breakdown (not that you can tell from Keanu’s acting) when he sees Young Drac on the streets of London. The Vampire Hunters Three plus Van Hopkins do a little grave desecrating only to find out that Lucy’s been collecting children in her off hours. Oh, and more blood.
When did Van Hopkins become Harker’s doctor? Anyway, Harker admits he was a manwhore, that he didn’t drink vampire blood, and Mina kisses him and gives him a cookie. Then they are off to Carfax Abbey in the middle of the night. Because sure, why not? That’s a great idea.
Mina’s safely ensconced in the boobyhatch, Jack’s shooting up in the office, and Renfield’s screaming in the cells. Just another Friday night in London.
Drac has had enough of everyone’s mess. He goes to find Mina and confesses his undead status. She beats on him for a while on Lucy’s behalf and then professes her love for him. So she drinks from him. As one does.
Van Hopkins busts in as the jealous cockblocker that he is and then uses Christ to compel Dracula to turn into rats. Mina has a massive case of “wtf was I thinking, I’m never drinking again,” and huddles in a corner.
The Vampire Hunters use Mina to track Drac. He’s a Drac in a box. Sorry (not sorry). We get a travelogue and a chase and blah blah blah with maps and that horrible pronunciation of Budapest again. Finally they separate with Mina going with Van Hopkins and the Vampire Hunters Four going to intercept Drac. The Brides torment Mina into stripping? I’m not entirely sure with this one and then she tries to put the moves on Van Hopkins who shoves a Communion wafer at her. The Brides kill his horses, so he cuts off their heads. After which, he yells for Drac like he’s a pro wrestler calling out his opponent from backstage. Seriously, this movie…
Racing sundown. Shooting, horses, Mina doing magic (?!), snow, sunset taking forever, until finally DRAC IN THE BOX. Fighty McFight! Quincy dies! Drac is stabbed! Mina goes to help him and takes him to the chapel. God forgives Drac or whatever when Mina finally stabs him. And then she cuts off his head. Because of LURVE. The End.
Can Dracula Untold top this? I mean, this is the movie that pretty much made canon the idea that Mina Murray is really the reincarnation of Dracula’s first wife and reimagining the gothic horror tale as a love story for the ages. It has Gary Oldman doing accents. It has a LOT of heaving bosoms. It has Anthony Hopkins doing…whatever it is he’s doing. What I’m saying is, there’s a lot of campy crazy to top here. I think Luke Evans is quite the charming hottie, but can he take on the Master of Disaster—Gary Oldman at the height of his crazy—himself?