Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Argento's Dracula 3D" (2012) d/ Dario Argento

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Whether you call it Woptober or Italo-ween (we transcend all petty labels here), it looks as though we're wrapping up another successful one tonight with an Argento review, and his three dimensional take on the most infamous vampire of all, in Dracula 3-D, his 2012 effort. I shouldn't have to tell you by now that you won't be enjoying Suspiria or Tenebre level Argento when you sit down to watch this one, and expecting as much from it is naivete' on the viewer's part, and I'd like to think the vast majority of my subscribers are above such "fresh out of the package" thought processes. Though nobody with functional eyes will mistake it for top shelf Dario, the fact remains: even his shlockiest mediocrity is still heads and tails over seventy-five percent of the scareless copycat dreck that pollutes today's horror scene.

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Here's a majestic pair of real D's you wanna see in RealD 3D.
After an ill-advised fling on Walpurgis Night, at the foot of the Carpathians, next to a village called Passo Borgo (Borgo Pass? Carpathian mountains? Walpurgis Night? Why not just have sex in Crystal Lake on Friday the 13th, ferchrissakes, you idiotic peasants), busty Tania (Miriam Giovanelli) is dispatched by an animate shadow in the night. Meanwhile, a librarian named Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) arrives in the village on business dealings with a resident nobleman named Count Dracula (Thomas Kretschmann) after briefly visiting Lucy (Asia Argento), the mayor's daughter and best friend to his wife, Mina (Marta Gastini). At the castle, he's greeted by Tania (aren't you dead?), who unsuccessfully tries to seduce him into a quick bite, but Drac rolls in like ants at a picnic and steals the vampiric vixen's vital fluids out from under her pretty little undead nose. Jonathan survives the fanging, if only long enough to attempt an escape, which might have worked if the Count couldn't metamorphosize into a fucking wolf. Just sayin'.

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"Arrrgh! You Tom and Jerry-ed me!!!"
Of course, while Mina is in the village visiting Lucy, her best friend falls prey to the ancient blood-sipper, leading the concerned wife to pay a call to Dracula's stony digs to inquire about her husband. At the castle, she finds herself under the influence of the vampire, who has orchestrated the eerie events thus far, just to get close to Mina, who's a dead ringer for a centuries old flame he's never forgotten. Around this time, Van Helsing (Rutger fucking Hauer!) makes the scene, familiar with the tell-tale signs of rampant blood drinkery, and preparing to go knuckle up with his pale nemesis once and for all. While he's putting an end to Tania at Drac's pad, the Count pays the villagers a visit, paying them all back with violent death for renegging on the pact they had struck with him. I'm pretty sure you've got an idea how this story wraps up, more or less, and even if you don't, you're still gonna have to score a copy to find out for yourselves. Happy Halloween!

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I'm familiar with Northern and Southern Mantis styles, but Transylvanian Mantis?
Like most of his modern era efforts, at least as far back as Opera (1987), Argento's work is uneven here in delivering the vampiric goods; slowly paced, handicapped by embarrassing cgi effects, and a pedestrian script that's mostly unfaithful to Bram Stoker's famous novel, though his obvious visual tributes to previous genre masters like Bava and Margheriti (and more so, Hammer movies of the fifties and sixties as evidenced by the costumes, locations, beautiful women, bountiful breasts, and fake blood),  are not wasted on your humble critic-at-large. It still pains me to a certain degree to declare a movie by the "Italian Hitchcock" a middling interpretation of the immortal horror classic, having been such a huge fan of his work most of my life. In Draculean measurement, it falls somewhere around the Frank Langella and Jack Palance versions, well behind Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, and Klaus Kinski, but miles above Gary Oldman's take, in my honest opinion. It still boggles my mind how anybody digs that one, I left the theater well pissed afterwards. As for this one, give it a look for yourselves...

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This is Dracula's polite way of telling you that your head sucks.
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Aylmer said...

The saddest thing about this one is that it was shot by Luciano Tavoli, the guy who shot Suspiria and Tenebre. Not sure what happened there, but I assume that by 2012 he had gone mostly blind?

beedubelhue said...

You may be on to something there, Ayl, as Tovoli was already 76 at the time of the production. Mushy carrots and bong hits might have rectified the situation...


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