Friday, May 02, 2008

I Dream of Dracula – review

Director: Jim Haggerty

Release date: 2003

Contains spoilers

I Dream of Dracula is listed as a comedy horror. Now I know that, of all the filmic art forms, comedy is the most subjective but I really failed to see the humour in this one. Toupee gags and fart sounds just do not make me laugh, at least not in the way they were done in this movie… sad but true. Comedy also needs a little thing called comic timing, but we’ll get to the acting shortly.

I should mention that, despite the title, Dracula is not in this.

The opening credits have a slow, maudlin keyboard over black and white shots of a forest. It might have been moody but the music captured little atmosphere. We then go into a silent (dialogue wise) black and white sequence of a woman, Prunella Wandenburg (Michellina Shaffranski), walking through the woods in period dress. She meets her husband but is observed by two black clad women (whose dress isn’t exactly period). They hug and then she bites him. At first she seems shocked but then, with fangs out, she lunges…

A scream resounds as Priscilla (also Michellina Shaffranski) awakens from her dream. Her husband Roger (Jae Mosc) seems sickly sweet concerned about her bad dreams and suggests that she talks to Jeanette (Maria Bolaris) – Priscilla’s best friend and, handily, a shrink. Priscilla is opposed to the idea but then agrees. Roger goes back to sleep – cue unfunny snore and fart joke with sound effects obviously adding in post production.

Jeanette is the most unsympathetic shrink ever, it would seem. She refuses to indulge the vampire fantasy and starts mentioning underlying psychotic tendencies. Roger speaks to her alone and it becomes all too apparent that he and Jeanette are having an affair. They plan to have Priscilla declared insane, siphon her funds, Roger divorce her and get together. At this point we should discuss the acting. Firstly, the dialogue is awful but it is not as bad as the acting. There is an earnestness to the performances but that does not translate into a good performance at all – we are talking sub-school play.

Cut to Mrs Lynley (Anastasia Bosakowski-Chater) who faints and then starts declaring to her husband (Gareth Chater) that the devil and his incubus are coming for them. Mrs Lynley spends most of the film raving unconvincingly about evil or (much more convincingly) puking and is the reincarnation of a vampire hunter.

We get a gratuitous sub-story of a woman and her fiancée, Gunnar (Jim Haggerty), who split up because he has slept with her whole family (sister, cousin, Grandmother, mother and, it is clearly hinted, father). He leaves and they are individually stalked by the two vampire women, played by Jenna King and Spike. This is a cue for gratuitous nudity – think Female Vampire without Franco’s ‘artistic integrity’.

Anyhoo, Pricilla gets a book from the library – given by one of the vampires – which is a handwritten account of her ancestor Prunella. She discovers more about vampires but with the vampires trying to seduce her to their way of life and her husband and best friend plotting against her, will she survive?

The vampire lore is a little unusual. They are a different species, immortal, stronger, blood-drinking and with magical powers. They intermingled with humanity and thus those like Priscilla are born vampires but do not know it. They must choose to be vampires. It was a muddled lore and not very convincing, especially as Satan (Paul Doughery) was included in the mix leaving an unsatisfying blend of natural lore with supernatural lore.

They cast reflections, daywalk and must kill their mortal love to achieve their biological heritage. They are killed by stake and then vanish into thin air. There is also a sub-conspiracy about vampires having to sacrifice vampires every 130 years to the aforementioned Satan, though why this should be the case isn’t clear.

The whole thing is digital camera shot and the fangs weren’t that great as they were clearly of a different colour to the natural teeth – something born of budget, however the actresses found that their speech was impeded by the fangs also – something that regular readers will know bugs me. That said the blood looked rather good for a film of this budget.

This is not a great film. The acting was poor and, as a result, the comic timing sucked. The dialogue was poor also. Yet, as I said, there was an earnestness within it – misplaced but noteworthy. Still 1 out of 10 is about all I can muster and that comes from the fact that I believe those involved were truly trying to achieve something, no matter how misguided they might have been.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

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Aaron Soto

Taliesin_ttlg said...

aaron, many thanks for your praise and the news... I am really looking forward to Let the Right One In.

Anonymous said...

I know this movie wasn't really up your alley but this is something that I want to see. I can't seem to find it anywhere. Any thoughts on "Beyond the Rave" or are you waiting for the entire movie to be released?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Swish - other than one exception, I'd encourage everyone to see every vampire movie despite the quality of it, simply because it is a vampire movie :)

I got this in a set of 50 movies called "Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares" It's on Amazon, I picked it up from marketplace for £10 - aprox $20 US - so the price was fairly good as well.

Beyond the Rave, I'm waiting til the end... call me a chicken...

Anonymous said...

I'm the director of this film and I am deeply offended by this review - the snoring and fart sounds were NOT added in post, they were recorded live! :)

Seriously though, I enjoyed your review - I always like reading someone's thoughts on my stuff, especially a well-written, well-thought out review.

Just to let you know, I have two new movies coming out - a horror anthology called "Grave Danger" and a voodoo story called "Witchmaster General" starring Phil Lewis of L.A. Guns. Neither of those are vampire movies, but they're both a lot better than "I Dream of Dracula" (which was my sophmore effort). If anyone's interested, there are MySpace pages for both films, you can get more info there.

Thanks again for the review!

Good luck in all things,

Jim Haggerty

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Jim, thanks for commenting - and they were so added post production. ;)

I try to be positive on review and thus I said that "I believe those involved were truly trying to achieve something".

Despite lack of vampiric content I will check out "Witchmaster General", for definite, as I was a fan of LA Guns way back in the dark old days of them first appearing (Ahem, shows his age!)

Please always keep on making movies, bottom line is there have been some first rate directors who made some questionable films at the head of their career - a combination of lack of experience and lack of funds.

As I said to Swish, with the exception of one film, I'd encourage everyone to watch anything with a vampire in it - the exception being Geek Maggot Bingo, which even I couldn't get through

Taliesin_ttlg said...

For information, Witchmaster General's MySpace is here and Grave Danger's MySpace is here