As many of you have probably picked up from my Ivanhoe Bad Book Covers post, or seeing me dick around on Twitter, I collaborate a lot with my good friend @VictorianMasculinity (not her real name, but how baller would that be?)
We also have a penchant for watching terrible Victorian-themed films and taking the ever-loving piss out of them, much in the vein of Mystery Science Theater 3000. We realized about a year into our regular movie sessions that these would make amazing blog posts (or self-indulgent, unfunny crap, but hey, let’s give it a go).
Last Friday we had the profound misfortune of watching Dracula 2000 which had SO MANY GOOD ACTORS IN IT that I’m not sure how they fucked it up.
Oh, wait, yes I do: the plot, the script, the directing, the special effects, all the rest of the bargain basement cast, and the dubious racial politics.
So here, for your reading pleasure, is a recap of Dracula: Y2K Edition.
And, myyyyyy god, is it Y2K-y.
[SPOILERS AND SWEARING BELOW]
I would like firstly to point out the theatrical poster, with a tag-line that makes NO FUCKING SENSE
Is . . . is our time . . . outside of ‘all time’?
Then the movie opens with the title credits “Dracula 2001″. Continuity errors this grievous cannot bode well.
The film also opens with a rip-off of the Gladiator soundtrack, described by Cleolinda Jones as “Our Lady of Soundtrack Sorrow”. It’s that sort of soulful, vaguely foreign-sounding keening (WAOOOOOOO-oooooo-AAAAAAA-OOOOOoooOOOOOoooo) that was ALL OVER the early- and mid-2000s film soundtracks.
The movie opens with rich-ass Matthew van Helsing (Christopher Plummer), the “descendant” of the Dutch doctor Abraham van Helsing, at his fancy office.
The “Dutch” van Helsing inexplicably has a German accent, so I’m already convinced that this is a shared universe with The Sound of Music and this is just super old Austrian Captain von Trapp who got waylaid into this steaming turd of a film when he crossed the Swiss Alps.
He’s chilling in his office with the unlikely hero of our film, who we’ll call Baby Sherlock because I can’t be bothered to look up the character’s name, and also he’s played by a very young Johnny Lee Miller. Just what we need. A shared universe between Elementary, The Sound of Music, and Dracula.
Baby Sherlock hits on van Helsing’s uptight secretary (you can tell she’s uptight because she’s attractive and young, but her hair is in a bun, the instant movie shorthand for a frigid woman who is going to get all kinds of slutty later on when her hair comes down during her character arc) (Wait, is she named Lucy? Please tell me she’s named Lucy) (No. She’s named Selena. Dammit).
She rejects him in a really confusing way, by saying, “Does English charm work on English women?”
… but you’re both English, so … surely … you would just call it … “charm”?
BUT TROUBLE’S A-BREWIN’ in the shape of our only characters of color, who are, of course, criminals.
Considering this is a horror film in the early 2000s, and considering that these are the ‘sinful’ characters, what are the chances that the Black Dude Dies First?
And I’m super distressed because one of the crooks is Omar Epps, who I love. RUN, OMAR, YOU ARE TOO GOOD FOR THIS FILM.
Omar Epps and crew are there to rob Captain von Trapp because they are convinced that he has valuables in a vault in his office. Omar Epps throws what appears to be an exploding Christmas ornament at some security guards—
—a rip-off of The Matrix happens—
—Omar Epps produces a fake eyeball that presumably has Captain von Trapp’s retinal details inside—
—and he is through the security system!
And what does he find in the vault? Some old fucking gravy boats and—I shit you not—bucktooth vampire skulls.
NO OTHER VAMPIRE IN THE WHOLE FILM HAS TEETH LIKE THIS. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
The uptight secretary joins Omar Epps because she is secretly his girlfriend (gasp!) and was just placed in Captain von Trapp’s office to get his details so they can break in.
Okay, two things:
One, Wikipedia is telling me that Captain von Trapp is supposed to be an antiques dealer in this film, so why on earth would he be targeted for this plot? Unless they think Captain von Trapp made off with some Nazi gold when he fled to Switzerland, and this is really going to become sort of Inside Man heist film (that’s a shared universe I could get on board with).
Two, these people are DEAD MEAT. Again, we are in an early 2000s horror film. He’s a crook, she’s secretly slutty, and they’re in a taboo interracial relationship! We’re still at least a year away from having a regular black character on Friends! No WAY are they making it out of the film alive.
So they dick around in there, trying to figure out where Captain von Trapp keeps his valuables, and then they discover a giant coffin.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, Omar Epps is like, “The valuables are definitely inside the coffin, let’s steal the whole thing, because logic”. They somehow manage to steal the coffin, and they set off some booby-traps, and one of the henchmen gets impaled and deaded (wow, Black Dude didn’t die first. That’s refreshing), and his blood seeps into the coffin through the convenient sippy-cup holes that van Helsing had installed because…
… look, don’t think about it too hard. The point is, blood goes in the coffin and rejuvenates Gerard Butler-Dracula, who is inside the coffin, biding his time.
The special effects are amazing. They have clearly leaked some fake blood OUT of a hole in the coffin lid, and then just run the film in reverse so it looks like the blood is being sucked in. Stellar.
Captain von Trapp is upstairs doing rich people shit. He’s put on some opera, gone over to his elegant chess board and … opened a trap door in the chessboard to reveal a tank full of leeches.
Rich people and their alternative medicine, amirite?
So he’s doing weird things with leeches and injections and vampire science, and this will probably be a plot point later, but we don’t have time to dwell on that because the vault alarm goes off! He rushes in and sees that they’ve somehow blasted through a steel-plated vault and carried out a coffin that clearly weighed several hundred pounds. Rather than call the police, Captain von Trapp unearths his vampire hunting kit and goes on a RAMPAGE.
At this point in the film, VictorianMasculinity started narrating Captain von Trapp’s inner monologue, saying, “I’m so angry I could just … sing!”
Fast forward to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, where some gormless looking bint gets out of a very virginal bed, wearing Ripley’s underwear and wig.
She, if you can believe it, is our sorry excuse for a heroine, Mary, and she is THE WORST. She wanders around for a while, hallucinating boringly about Gerard Butler and having daddy issues.
What’s even less believable than her as a heroine is the fact that it’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans and I think we only see two pair of boobs during the entire film, and yet everyone is plastered in beads. Ahhh, PG-13 ratings.
Omar Epps, slutty secretary, and crew (which includes Danny Masterson, for some reason), are on a private plane with the coffin. A private plane? Seems like they have good enough financial resources NOT to need to rob elderly antiques dealers, but maybe that’s just me.
Danny Masterson goes in the back, ALONE, with the coffin to try to figure out how to open it, since it’s got magical vampire locks or something. He manages to get it open, and everything starts getting all fogged up with dry ice. 90% of this film’s budget went toward dry ice. Rather than holler to the other crew members, he peers inside the coffin by himself.
Yes, Danny Masterson. Keep investigating. Maybe this will end happily for you.
Except it doesn’t, because inside we find a gross corpse covered in leeches, and one of the leeches must have a jet-pack or something, because it leaps an absurd distance in the air and lands right on Danny Masterson’s eye. This is the only legitimately horrifying thing in the entire film.
While Danny Masterson deals with this, we get a better look at the corpse, which has, as best as we can tell, steel wool pubic hair—
After some stupid scuffling, Danny Masterson gets it in the neck, and then a black henchmen comes in and also gets nommed by Gerard Butler.
Black Dude Dies … Third? Hurray! Racism is over!
Gerard Butler turns from old corpsey Dracula into young Dracula, and he’s all pale and confused-looking (aren’t we all, Gerard. Aren’t we all), like he’s getting a glimpse into his acting future.
Omar Epps and Selena come in (Selena is in full horror movie whore drag at this point, i.e. in a spaghetti strap tank top with her boobs a-bouncin’, and her hair down and voluptuous, so I guess she’s not long for this world).
Sho nuff, Selena gets all seductified by Gerard Butler and he gets her in the neck, too, but only a little bit, and then Omar Epps pulls a gun and SHOOTS A HOLE IN THE PLANE CEILING, which causes no other disruption than to make Gerard Butler go, “Oh no, a tiny pinpoint of sunlight!”, which he deftly avoids while nomming on Omar Epps.
RIP Omar, be free to go do House, M.D.
They’re clearly attempting to do a whole Russian ship Demeter thing with this, like in the original book, but it falls very flat.
Back in tame New Orleans, Mary keeps hallucinating about Gerard Butler and we don’t know why. In this hallucination, he comes to sniff her. I don’t even have anything funnier to say than the basic stage direction written in the script. He walks through her room and sniffs her. The end.
Mary ends up screaming and cowering, and her best friend—with whom she both lives and works—comes in and wrassles with her for a bit.
You see, children, the most important thing to do when someone you know is having a psychotic break is to approach them suddenly, grab them aggressively, and shake. If they don’t respond, they’re just being stubborn. Shake harder and squeeze.
Or so says this film.
Mary doesn’t go a see a doctor. Oh no. She goes and sees Nathan Fillion, a priest, because hallucinations to Mary are a religious crisis, not a neurological one.
I would like to point out that this movie probably got some sort of 2-for-1 deal from the Buffy set cast-offs.
As Mary sits in the confessional, the film’s budget script writing team really starts to show, as Mary and Father Nathan Fillion start to backstory as though their lives depended on it.
MARY: We’re friends, Father! Remember how we grew up together? Do you remember how you knew my mother!
FATHER NATHAN FILLION: Ah, yes, we played! As children! Because we are long-term friends! And also I knew your mother. And took her confession many times, but as I’ve stated before, I cannot tell you what she said to me!
MARY: We are stating things that we both already know, and have no real need to say! We do not speak like normal humans with a shared history! Exposition for the benefit of the audience!
This was the point in the film where VictorianMasculinity went, “Backstory HARDER. HARDER!”
Then we shift to a subplot that has NO FUNCTION except to give Gerard Butler another vampire bride (Selena is presumably already the first, after getting bitten just a little bit on the plane). There is an attractive news reporter wearing something low cut and talking about how the audience at home loves her boobs. She is reporting on Omar Epps’s private plane, which has conveniently crashed (after Butler-Dracula ate the pilot I guess?) in New Orleans.
Her creepy camera man tells her he’s rolling and that she should “Go when it feels juicy.” Gross.
It gets “juicy” real quick, though, when a swarm of swamp mosquitoes turn into Gerard Butler and make quick work of the camera man and then her.
Wait … it’s broad daylight. In the reality of the film, Dracula can’t be in daylight.
OH MY GOD, THIS FILM IS SUCH SHIT.
Mary continues to have sexy dreams about Gerard Butler, and she wears a lot of virginal cardigans, and VictorianMasculinity is convinced that the reason Mary keeps running off screen, looking upset, after her Gerard Butler hallucinations is because she needs to masturbate furiously while whooping like a gibbon. Those repressed virginal types always do.
Captain von Trapp and Baby Sherlock, who I have already forgotten were even in the film, have arrived in New Orleans to kill Dracula and his new vampire servants, and they knew he was going to surprise-crash a plane in New Orleans because…?
Whatever. They find the Less Dead Than Previously Suspected Omar Epps, and get into some sort of West Side Story rumble in a school gymnasium, but sadly with far fewer dance-offs. Baby Sherlock gets cornered by Omar Epps, and Baby Sherlock pulls out a cross.
In maybe the worst bit of dialogue seen yet, Omar says chirpily, “Sorry, sport! I’m an atheist!” and attempts to eat him. Omar Epps gets killed (again?), but Selena escapes by pouting seductively at Baby Sherlock, while Captain von Trapp stares in disbelief, screaming, “FINISH HERRRRR!”
After the rumble, Captain von Trapp reveals that he’s not a descendant of Abraham van Helsing … he IS Abraham van Helsing! (Not that anyone is surprised by this “plot twist”). He captured Dracula in 1897, but couldn’t figure out how to kill him, so he locked him in a box with leeches, and uses the leeches to gather Dracula’s blood, which he then injects himself with in order to prolong his own life, so he can guard Dracula forever.
They will continue to fight each other FOREVER, until one of them dies. Like The Duellists, but shit.
Meanwhile, someone in an interrogation room somewhere (it’s never explained, they might be … police? Medical staff?) has managed to capture Selena. She prances around in front of a 2-way mirror, but she has no reflection (due to extremely shoddy special effects). Dracula comes in and kills the dudes behind the mirror and rescues Selena.
“I lied on my CV! I’m not a real doctor!”
This whole scene is absolutely pointless.
Then we find out that Mary works at … the Virgin store.
Does it even count as symbolism if you just label it? This is the equivalent of Lindsay Bluth attempting to get male attention by wearing this shirt:
We then discover that Dracula is targeting Mary in her dreams because she is actually Captain von Trapp’s daughter! And everyone knows that women are really just pawns for men to get revenge on each other!
When Mary’s mother discovered that Captain von Trapp was actually hundreds of years old, she was like, “Fuck this shit” and took Mary away to America, and Captain von Trapp hasn’t seen her since.
So Gerard shows up at the Virgin store looking for her, and the Virgin store seems only to be populated by attractive women in their twenties who respond to Gerard’s presence like dogs around a giant steak.
This is the Virgin store in the early 2000s. Where are all the angry middle-aged men and teenage boys listening to Linkin Park?
God, Gerard Butler is getting so much practice lurking in dark corners and swooshing capes. No wonder he got the Phantom of the Opera role a few years later.
Dracula, of course, meets up with Mary’s roommate, whom he immediately seduces. She takes him back to their house (Mary isn’t home) and proceeds to have a very uncomfortable sex scene with him.
She discusses, during foreplay, how she was named after the Peanuts character “Lucy” (ah, so she’s Lucy) (side note: who doesn’t love discussing Charlie Brown during coitus? That really revs my engine).
Then they levitate. They have levitating sex.
And he bites her. Okay.
I mean, he could have just bitten her. I’m note entirely sure why elaborate seduction and sex was necessary, if he’s just looking to get to Mary.
Omar Epps comes back again and he’s pissed. I’d be pissed, too, if they kept dragging me back in every time I thought my character had died and I was released from my contract. His head gets cut off by Baby Sherlock, so I guess he’s finally done. Good for you, Omar.
Captain von Trapp shows up at Mary and Lucy’s place, but Dracula is waiting. Captain von Trapp does that whole, “You’ll never take my daughter!” thing, and Dracula goes, “Well, she was conceived when you already had my blood in your veins, so she’s really our daughter, because of leech science”.
Aww, I would love it if this became a Two Men and a Baby situation.
But then things get rough and Captain von Trapp gets thrown into a mirror and methinks we’re about to see the end of him.
Mary comes home to discover Lucy’s been vamped and her father’s been impaled in a very elaborate way underneath a mattress. How he ended up underneath the mattress, I’m sure I don’t know. RIP, Captain von Trapp.
Now, if it weren’t bad enough that her father has been killed and her roommate turned into a vampire bride, Mary also discovers that Dracula has apparently gone around redecorating her house, with SLUT RED curtains, in honor of her (metaphorical? literal?) impending virginity loss:
VictorianMasculinity: That is the most vaginal corridor I have ever seen.
The brides corner Mary in the big ole vaginal hallway and climb along the “walls” toward her, but you can tell that they’ve just made Mary lie on the floor and flipped the camera, because these are the only kinds of special effects they can be bothered with in this film:
Then I wasn’t really paying attention, but somehow Mary escapes with Baby Sherlock (who I had forgotten was in the film again), and Gerard Butler turns into a wolf and starts chasing them.
VictorianMasculinity: *singing to the tune of the Spiderman theme song* Butler wolf, Butler wolf! Nomming virgins, Butler wolf!
Baby Sherlock and Mary go someplace—a library? her father’s study? a church?—and Baby Sherlock explains all the stuff about the leeches and her father really being 200 years old.
VictorianMasculinity: I know Mary’s supposed to look upset in this scene, but really, I think her acting process during the entire film has been “look as though someone is about to deliver bad news, but also that they might start tickling you at any second.”
Baby Sherlock and Mary then go on to discuss how they should destroy Dracula. He can’t be killed like the other vampires. The only thing that seems to hurt him, besides sunlight, is silver.
In a moment wrought in the fires of Mount Obvious, Baby Sherlock goes, “But why silver…?” while looking at a painting of the Last Supper.
At this point in my home, the entire room erupted in, “Wait. Is Dracula supposed to be … Judas? Nooooooooo. Surely they wouldn’t ……. Noooooooooooooooo……. He can’t be ……… Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”
Yes, my cherubs. Yes, he is.
Dracula bursts into wherever the hell Mary and Baby Sherlock are hiding out. Baby Sherlock tells Mary to run, while he holds off Dracula. He holds him off with a Bible.
Dracula takes one look at the Bible and is like, “That’s just propaganda. You realize this doesn’t work on me, right?”
Only, in some weird twist of logic, it DOES work, because Baby Sherlock opens the Bible and it starts SPITTING PAGES VIOLENTLY all over Dracula, who cowers in fear, and I have no idea what’s happening any more, except that maybe somewhere along the line I’ve dropped acid.
Dracula follows Mary out into a cemetery, where she’s hiding. She gets the brilliant idea to hide inside a tomb—you know, a very confined space where she could easily be found, but has no place to run—and she manages, like an IDIOT, to scrape the shit out of her hand.
Everyone knows that vampires are like sharks, and Dracula manages to sniff out her blood in no time.
We’re gonna need a bigger Bible.
He starts monologuing about how he’s walked the earth for centuries, and VictorianMasculinity yells at the TV, “That’s a LIE! You were laying down in a coffin for a lot of that!”
And then he finally stops monologuing and vamps Mary. Even though she is his daughter (ish). We are treated to the sexy wails of Our Lady of Soundtrack Sorrow (and Incest).
Baby Sherlock runs out to find Mary, but gets cornered by the vampire brides.
The one who used to be the news reporter (who is also a B-list celebrity in real life), starts seducing Baby Sherlock:
Reporter Bride: *seductively, to Baby Sherlock* Ever dream of making it with a TV star?
VictorianMasculinity: Uhh, “TV star” is a bit rich.
Newly vamped Mary and Dracula find Baby Sherlock and the brides. Baby Sherlock looks really sad and disappointed. I think he was tricked into making this film by being promised Monica Bellucci as one of the brides.
I wish Monica were here, too, buddy.
Dracula tells vampire-Mary to bite Baby Sherlock. She does.
Then they go up to the roof, which I am convinced was also being used at the time as the set of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet.
Do you have ANY idea how much I would pay for that statue of Jesus to come to life and start fighting with Dracula? I would pay such good money for this film to turn into Dracula vs. MechaJesus.
SUCH GOOD MONEY.
Dracula starts monologuing again about how he was Judas, and he betrayed Christ, and then he got hanged, but the rope snapped, which meant that he … became a vampire. Because shoddy hemp weaving has supernatural capabilities.
Look, we’re ten minutes from the end of the film, let’s not question things at this point.
And, of course, we’re treated to a shot of the crucifixion from afar, and it looks … rudimentary:
Now, VictorianMasculinity claims that at this point in the film, I started drunkenly screaming, “What kind of fucking Games Workshop fucking plasticine fucking model did they put the crucifixion on?”
But I have no memory of this, and such vulgarity doesn’t sound like me at all, so she must be thinking of someone else.
Meanwhile, Dracula is STILL droning on in what I assume is a perpetual dick-measuring contest with Jesus:
“Jesus is all like, ‘I give them eternal life’, but fuck you, Jesus, because I’m Dracula, and I give them eternaler life!”
Kill me. Kill me now.
Baby Sherlock is not really dead or vamped, because vampire-Mary only pretended to bite him. He attempts to kill the brides, and at first things do not go well.
How do they not go well, you ask?
Well, they bust out guns for some reason (I don’t know why, because they’re vampires and we’ve already seen them be able to do extraordinary gymnastics and defy physics and shit, so I don’t know why they need bullets).
Baby Sherlock attempts to win by throwing dirt at them.
That’s right. He brought dirt to a gun fight.
But then he gets his shit together and chops some heads off with garden shears, and now it’s just him and Mary and Dracula.
While Dracula is distracted STILL moaning about Jesus, Mary manages to wrap a metal cable around his neck (so there’s no chance of the rope breaking this time), and she throws him over the edge of the building, while Jesus looks on in a smug and approving manner:
Dracula grabs Mary before he goes over, and she Hans Grubers off the building, presumably breaking every bone in her body when she lands. Dracula, knowing he’s about to die, says, “I release you” to Mary (how very unexpectedly magnanimous of him), and she is no longer a vampire.
(And also he manages to heal her multiple fractures in this way? Sure, let’s go with it. She’s fine).
The sun comes up and he turns to ash.
In the next scene, Mary is dressed in a white polar fleece, but leather pants. So she’s still a good girl, but she’s finally lost her virginity or something. She says that even though she’s pretty sure Dracula is dead, she’s going to keep his ashes close and watch over them forever.
Then Linkin Park starts to play in the credits, because this movie is “edgy”.
Wow. That hurt like a hangover.