Thursday, April 06, 2006

Dracula 3000 - review

Director: Darrell James Roodt

Release date: 2004

contains spoilers

When I first heard of this movie I thought, no… please no… Yet, being the glutton for vampiric punishment that I am, I decided that I would have to get the movie anyway (bless e-bay and the kind soul who put it on a ‘buy it now’ for just £2). As things started I thought to myself, well maybe I was a little harsh, but that feeling lasted only a couple of minutes and I realised that my first instincts were right.

The film starts and we see Captain Varna (Udo Kier) recording a video log on his starship Demeter. He holds a cross and is waiting for the self destruct to go and… nothing happens, it is stopped. As the film progresses we see more of these logs, and they are, by far, the best part of the movie.

Jump forward 50 years and the salvage ship Mother, with her misfit crew, find the ship in the distant Carpathian system– but it is not drifting it is limping slowly towards earth.

We are introduced to the crew, Captain Abraham Van Helsing (Casper Van Dien), second in command Aurora Ash (Erika Eleniak). The muscle of the crew is Humvee (Tom ‘Tiny’ Lister Jr.), the brains is the wheelchair bound Arthur “The Professor” Holmewood (Grant Swanby). We also meet stoned crew member 187 (Coolio) and navigator, and ‘I’ve got a bad feeling’ girl, Mina Murray (Alexandra Kamp).

They investigate the ship and, whilst they are onboard, something causes Mother to un-tether from the Demeter and they can’t get their ship back. It is up to the Professor to get the Demeter up and running. Whilst he does the crew discover the remains of Captain Varna, a desiccated husk, his arms tied to the chair (why? I mean in Dracula the Captain ties himself to the wheel of the ship – that made sense – but in a spaceship, which incidentally is out of his control… why?) and clutching a cross in his hand. Most of the crew do not recognise it as a holy symbol – it seems that such things fell out of flavour 200 years earlier.

Meanwhile 187 is trying to find drugs and, on finding coffins, decides they must have drugs inside. Breaking open one he finds nothing but ‘sand’ but he’s cut his hand (imagine that) and blood drops onto the 'sand'.

The rest of the crew hear a scream. Rushing to the cargo hold they find 187 in shock, his leg broken badly, and then he passes out. 187 is taken to the rec room and his leg is reset. As his body is investigated they discover puncture wounds at the neck, 187 turns and attacks.

In the confusion Aurora comes face to face with ‘Dracula’ (Langley Kirkwood). Now I’ve put Dracula in inverted commas for a reason. The film is called Dracula 3000, the character – we discover later – is named Orlock. A computer search for vampires later indicates that Orlock is just a pseudonym for Dracula… so to recap Dracula is listed in the film as Orlock but is actually Dracula. Indeed, when we see the computer search for vampire lore we also discover that Dracula was indeed defeated by Van Helsing as per the novel (though obviously he survived or was later resurrected) and it is fairly clear that Captain Van Helsing is distantly related to the original Van Helsing. Be that as it may, you’d think Orlock/Dracula would have updated his clothing in the 30th century and forgone the frilly shirts and high collars. Unfortunately Kirkwood is no Christopher Lee and makes a rather foppish, unthreatening Dracula.

Getting back to the story. Aurora returns, seemingly none the worse for her encounter with Orlock/Dracula. She claims he did not bite her. Now it is clear that the director wanted to build up some tension here, was she bitten, wasn’t she… The crew are rightly suspicious but I was thinking, hmm… now I’ve seen the Alien films… got it she’s an android. Note to the director, if you are going to ‘homage’ other films don’t expect to build any tension because we already know what’s coming.

Anyhoo… to cut the story short, the crew point the ship towards a binary star system in order to kill Orlock/Dracula with sunlight (though I didn’t see any portholes!). Crew gets picked off, and subsequently staked until only Humvee and Aurora are left. They have locked themselves away from Orlock/Dracula – taking his arm off in the process – but can’t steer the ship so its going to blow up when it gets too close to the stars, the only solution; before she was an undercover security robot she had been a pleasure bot – so off they go for rumpy pumpy.

Bang (the ship and not the unseen pleasure robot scenes).

This film is so clichéd it is untrue. It has not only decimated the Dracula story but it happily rips off films such as Alien for fun. That said I couldn’t help but chortle when Casper Van Dien, with some relish, utters the Picard line “Make it so.” The clichés don’t end there, Humvee’s obsession with pointing out he is black (“All that bloodsuckin', that's some white people sh*t.” he points out when they discover there is a vampire aboard), 187 the ridiculous stoner played by a rapper, Aurora the busty, feisty hero turned pleasure bot… it is all too, too much. The acting rarely gets above the rank amateur, though Van Dien puts effort in and Udo Kier is great, though has very little on screen time.

It is a shame because the idea might have worked if done properly, especially with the nod towards the original story being part of the films mythology. It’s even more of a shame because the world needs more good sci-fi horror crossovers (and the list is severely limited). 2 out of 10, and I’m probably being overly generous.

The imdb is here.


Anonymous said...

I note that the poster is a pastiche of a H R Gieger, who actually designed the Alien, and the Alien ship in the eponymous Ridley Scott classic.
Obviously, in space, no one can hear a breach of copyright... as long as no one watches and/or makes any money!


your friendly neighbourhood crabstiX

Mateo said...

Do you know of any other movies/books featuring vampires in space? I'm writing a novela as such, but am definitely going in another direction.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

crabstiX - your right about the cover!

Mateo, not a lot springs to mind; the film "Lifeforce" begins in space and was based on the Colin Wilson book "Space Vampires". There was a Buck Rogers episode the space vampires, and, of course, the Durham Red material - the first of which I reviewed recently. A few nore with flying saucers bringing the vampires - "Goke: Bodysnatchers from Hell" springs to mind with that - but all in all we are definitely in need of a good space opera/vampire story/movie.

Anonymous said...

Ay what's your name?

CrabStiX said...

There was also an interesting "space vampire" story in the original Star Trek series.

CrabStiX said...

I should have added that a recent Smallville episode entitled "Thirst" centered on a sorority house of vampiresses. I haven't seen this (neither series nor episode) but I understand Kryptonite and rabies made them do it! Not in space, but definetly SciFi.

By the way, with the mention of Lifeforce, any votes for hottest vampire babe in a movie, ever?

CrabStiX said...

Doh! Forgot the one classic "the baddest" Plan Nine From Outer Space... Flying saucers (space), Vampirella (yowzers), Bela Lugosi (briefly and im-mortally!), zombiie/s (most of the cast), high camp (the director), low production values... appalling script... in fact everything that makes it the most painfully funny piece of hokum in the known multiverse. God bless Ed "Glen or Glenda" Wood, Jr. All that said, P9FOS is still a far better film than King Kong Lives, and most other deLaurentis pap.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Crabstix: Hottest v-babe, there are so many - but I'll have to stick with Salma Hyak in from Dusk til Dawn.

As for p9fos, its one that has hit many a vamp or not discussions - don't really know if I can bring myself to rewatch it to do a vamp or not piece on it though lol

Anonymous said...

Sorry fellows, but Coolio's "stroking of one's anaconda while fantasizing about the lady's snow white ass" was classic! I've never laughed so hard in my life and was worth the price of admission.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Funny - yes, in a generically B movie way - but generally he was awful in the movie.

That said I'm glad you got something from the film!

Everlost said...

Just got hold of this one, will watch over the weekend... plot sounds VERY similar to "Event Horizon", apart from that had scary nightmarish monsters, and this has... Coolio.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Everlost, imho Event Horizon was flawed (it felt like half the movie was missing) but it is in an order of magnitude above this turkey... I'd say enjoy, but I know you won't... I look forward to a rant however.