Saturday, July 22, 2006

Die Hard Dracula - review

Director: Peter Horak

Release Date: 1998

Contains spoilers

The things I put up with for the sake of vampires. From the title you know two things, firstly a combination of the Dracula mythos and, yippee-ki-yay, Die Hard (1988) should be a fairly decent combination. A hard action vampire flick with a rich mythology to borrow from. You also know just from the name that it is going to be rubbish.

First of all you need to know that three ‘actors’ play Dracula - Chaba Hrotko, Ernest M Garcia and Tom McGowan. Plus Art Vanik voices the count. There is no real plot reason for this being the case; though at one point we get a line about Dracula turning fat and ugly again. Hmmm…

The film starts with the fastest spoken voice-over section in the history of film, with a brief background to Vlad Dracul. There is a scene of Dracula decamping from Transylvania by means of a flying coffin to the Ride of the Valkyries.

We then cut to the 1800s and three horsemen approach a farm, King Ludwig (Chaba Hrotko) is searching for a virgin bride. The farmer tells his daughter, Sonia (Talia Botone), to run and then attacks the king (being, later, hung for his troubles).

The girl goes to hide in the crypt of Dracula’s castle (as you do) and is followed by Ludwig who stabs her. The Count kills Ludwig and turns the girl.

Cut to modern times and Steve (Denny Sachen), Brad and Julia (Kerry Dunstin) are water-skiing. Julia falls into the water and is lost. Steve is distraught and wishes upon a falling star that she might be alive again. Over in Dubonia a meteorite strikes the coffin of a young village girl, Carla (Kerry Dunstin), as she is being buried and she awakens in her coffin.

Steve goes to Romania to forget his troubles, his mother giving him a cross as a charm as the old evils still exist there, and eventually he ends up in Dubonia. He and Carla fall for each other but the village is plagued by Dracula and the peasants have called in the help of Van Helsing (Bruce Glover). Van Helsing explains to us that vampires do not like garlic, daylight, fire, crucifixes, bibles, horses, the church, and stakes, and to destroy a vampire you fire a silver bullet through the heart or chop their heads off.

The film then follows a pattern of Steve and Van Helsing attacking Dracula and failing to kill him. It starts with the silver bullet, Van Helsing is sure he hit and so realises that the vampire’s heart floats around the inside of the body. Then a five pronged stake fails. They use a hand grenade at one point and Steve chops Dracula's head off and that fails. Carla, of course, is turned into a vampire.

Dracula seems to have developed the ability to throw magic meteors and generate electric bolts from his fingers. Of course, you might be wondering if the heroes win in the end but more likely, just like me as I watched it, you don’t really care!

The film is played for laughs, unfortunately the jokes are not funny and the actors poor, with no comic timing. The soundtrack is very obtrusive and the special effects not very special. The blurb says that “its lighting mood [is] straight out of a hammer flick” which is simply insulting to even the weakest Hammer film. It also suggests that it is a “modern day, low budget tip of the hat to Roman Polanski’s ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ (1967)”. This claim is past insulting and almost libellous.

There really isn’t anything I can find in this movie that would allow me to recommend you spending your valuable time watching it. 0.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

Wow! This has to be your lowest rating to date!

I've often found these type of genre films played for laughs are decidedly unfunny. I'm usually much more entertained by a movie that is "played straight" and just happened to turn out unintentionally hilarious.

I've only seen the American cut of Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, which is a shame, as Polanski has reportedly said he would rather not have his name associated with this version.

I've also found that most films comparing themselves to Hammer fall far short of their claim.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Mark, not quite the lowest score, which is here and is utterly irredeemable!

I believe the UK cut of the Fearless Vampire Killers is classed as good in Polanski's book (I will review it sometime) and the DVD has a 10 minute made for cinema trailer starring Max Wall. If your player is multi-region it might be worth tracking down.

Anonymous said...

Heh heh, I forgot about Ankle Biters.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I wish I could!