Saturday, April 01, 2006

(Bram Stoker’s) Way of the Vampire

Release Date: 2005

Director: Sarah Nean Bruce/ Eduardo Durao

Contains spoilers

As we all know, Bram Stoker wrote a seminal novel concerning a vampire, i.e. “Dracula” and a short story, “Dracula’s Guest”. This film is dubbed “Bram Stoker’s Way of the Vampire” and the opening credits state that it is based on Stoker’s short story – one would guess that they allude to “Dracula’s Guest”. Stoker did not write a short story called “Way of the Vampire”, nor was Van Helsing in “Dracula’s Guest”. The only thing that this film has in common with either piece of prose is a cameo appearance by the Count (Paul Logan). Van Helsing (Rhett Gilles) is also in this, though the character is from the novel, and Gilles is far to young compared to Stoker’s description (the same charge can be levied at “Van Helsing” (2004) but at least they had the good grace to change the character’s first name).

Now, to be fair, with some searching you can find reference to a ‘short story’ entitled “The Way of the Vampire by Professor Abraham Van Helsing”. Let us be clear, it is not a short story, it is an excerpt from “Dracula”. During Dracula’s cameo in the film, as Van Helsing despatches the count after a lack lustre fight, we witness events that bare no resemblance to Stoker’s work. It is true that the character Dracula has been used and abused by writers over and over again, but to put Stoker’s name into the title of this movie is a step too far. Poor Bram must be turning in his grave.

The film begins with Van Helsing hunting down Dracula with a group of slayers, leaving his wife in the care of Sebastian (Andreas Beckett). During the hunt there are some nice blurring effects around the vampires. The vampires despatch the hunters until only Van Helsing survives. He kills Dracula and then is informed by a vampiress, Arianna (Denise Boutte), that Sebastian is a vampire prince. Later we discover the Van Helsing kills his turning wife and then makes a pact with God, through the Templars, to live forever until he has killed all the vampire princes. Cut to the modern day.

The vampires aren’t hunting as they are scared of Van Helsing. One steals blood from a hospital and Arianna takes it. She feeds it to Sebastian, who has to be the least threatening head vampire in a movie, and he regains his taste for blood – the final war is on. Sebastian feeds from a victim and his cries of joy awaken the vampires to the hunt.

Van Helsing hooks up with the Templars and builds an army. There is a mention of holy water filled bullets – interesting thought but they are not used to any effect. Van Helsing also tells the Templars that vampires can turn into wolves and bats. This is true to Stoker’s vision, but the filmmakers do not go on to use any such transformation. They obviously haven’t heard the cardinal rule that if you show a gun in Act 1 you must use it by the end of the play.

Arianna tricks a nurse who is part of the army, Emily (Brent Falco), into inviting the vampires into the Templar’s training hall where they cause mayhem then vanish with Emily. Held prisoner, Emily manages to drink a bottle of holy water.

Then there is a big fight. Van Helsing confronts Sebastian. Sebastian bites Emily and is mildly distracted by the holy water she has drunk giving Van Helsing the opportunity to stake and then decapitate him, whilst Arianna escapes.

As Sebastian is the last prince, Van Helsing expects he will die but doesn’t so they realise that there is a vampire princess – Arianna. And, ohh it’s all over… At least it was only 82 minutes long!

This has been set up for a sequel, let’s hope it doesn’t happen. 2 out of 10. Incidentally, the sound on the DVD (region 2 at least) is awful. The music is fairly loud but the dialogue is very low, making it difficult to hear what’s going on.

The IMDB page is here.


Mateo said...

From the trailer it appears to be fairly low budget, so I don't they could afford the effects necessary to make people turn to wolves, bats.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Fair call, though that said don't mention it if your not going to do it. It all goes back to, as mentioned in the review, the cardinal rule of script writing. Don't show a gun in act 1 unless you use it by he end of the play.