Sunday, September 28, 2014

Saint Dracula – review

Director: Rupesh Paul

Release date: 2012

Contains spoilers

The claim is that Saint Dracula is the first 3D Dracula movie. Untrue. That honour goes to Dario Argento’s Dracula, which had its official release before this and, I believe was completed prior as well. EDIT 29/9/14: by 3D I am referring to digital 3D. However there is a synopsis of this film, on its homepage that I want you to read… indeed read it twice:

Mitch Powell as Dracula
Longing for vengeance, he waited in hunger and thirst for his long lost admirer. The night hid him in the dark, the earth and the woods were his haven. He is a fallen angel, a catastrophic lover, the trodden Prince of Wallachia, but a vampire in revenge. His partisans await his reprise with celebration. He turns lucky in love, if not for ever. Beautiful nights of love and lust entangle him with his lost love - Clara, a passionate young nun but still a mortal. The peaches and perfection takes a turn the day Clara gets spellbound by the Catholic Church. The Vatican plots the trap but will the plan thrive? Or will it be love?

from the opening credits
Ok, I understand that the filmmakers are not English, and I have sympathy for folks working in a second language and, to be fair, after two reads you might get some sense of what it is saying, but ultimately it is still almost unreadable. The point is, that this is kind of like the film, which you can watch, get a sense of story but that sense is ephemeral, quickly lost between bizarre plotting, strange imagery and really poor acting. Before we get to that, the film launches straight in to the opening credits and these are computer generated and clearly designed for 3D viewing. Two things to note are the fact that there is a gravestone which clearly references Vlad Ţepeş (via the years of birth and death) and the fact that there is some frame-rate lag on some of the graphics!!

note the pentagram
After an opening montage of girls being attacked and murdered by a female vampire we cut to a bishop (Micheal Christopher) and priests eating. It is strange enough that the bishop's seat has a pentagram carved in it more strange when he seems to eat a grasshopper and then says “You got away with a lot” in such a way that it sounds like it’s going in to a song (it doesn’t, yet). Given that he is genuinely a Bishop (apparently) this feels even stranger than had he turned out to be something else.

Brother Benjamin & Father Nicholson
He stands in the inside of the bombed out shell of St Luke's Church, Liverpool, but the person he is waiting for is not there. They are forced to travel to see him, and he turns out to be a monk called Brother Benjamin (Daniel Shayler). The bishop wants him to look into the murders of the girls all of whom had a lock of hair ripped out – they are similar to murders previously investigated by Father Nicholson (Bill Hutchens) who was expelled from the church for not revealing what happened in his investigation and yet, apparently, somehow keeps his position as a monk!

Suzanne Roche as Sister Agnes
Meanwhile a young woman, Clara (Patricia Duarte), visits her sister, Agnes (Suzanne Roche), who is a nun. Agnes is horrified when Clara declares that she wants to be a nun too. Benjamin visits Nicholson, discovers that the old monk’s eyesight was seared by the shadow of a bat, has a vision of naked female flesh and self-flagellates. He then goes to see a vampire expert (unnamed) who tells him that Dracula (Mitch Powell) is a myth and that the historic person was a Prince of Transylvania (sic) – in fact the film oscillates between the titles Count, Prince and King – and was the seventh son of a seventh son. This complete mess of historical addition is underlined in the film's press kit where Rupesh Paul suggests that Ţepeş was a “pitiless sovereign who entwined forty thousand Ottoman civilians on the crucifix as recommended by the church.” Paul’s first language is not English and so there is an amount of latitude that should be given, of course, but his butchering of the history is worrying.

fangs out
Further to this we get some vampire lore. The expert tells us that Dracula is not like other vampires as he can go out during the day (but we’ve seen a female vampire in daylight already). Crucifixes only bother him if held by a man of faith, indeed only silver will kill him. Then (a sentence later) we are told that staking will kill him. We see him attacking a girl at one point and he clearly has a reflection. There is some astral and teleporting aspect to him. At times he is called a fallen angel but then he is associated with a mortal ruler.

Patricia Duarte as Clara
Anyway, Clara sings in the choir (this attracts Dracula’s attention). That night she has a sexy dream and awakens to discover that she is no longer virgo-intacta. Her jealous sister goes mad (and is sent for exorcism) and Brother Benjamin realises Clara is the vampire’s focus (and falls for her himself). We later discover that the reincarnation aspect of the plot sees Clara being the reborn lover, Agnes the reborn and deceitful sister of the original Clara, Benjamin the reborn brother of Ţepeş and the Bishop the reborn version of another Bishop! The film stumbles along, with some strange and meaningless symbolic orientated cuts, to a climax (that I won’t spoil, mainly to see if you have the tenacity to sit through the whole thing).

suddenly there's dancing
The film is truly dreadful. The dialogue is stagey but the delivery makes it sound even worse. The broad brush of the story is fine but the detail is confused and contradictory. The director couldn’t help himself and we do get a song moment ala Bollywood with young ballet dancers dancing away. There is an interesting take on good and evil (I’ll give the film that). But that is contradicted within the film, and I’ll pretend that the darkening and lightening of Dracula’s hair was deliberate!! The main positive thing I can say is that there was the occasional good vampiric imagery.

1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: