Today’s feature is Dracula 2000, a Wes Craven produced re-imagining of the classic vampire mythos for the new millennium.
Dracula 2000 was written and produced by Joel Soisson, who also wrote the screenplays for Hollow Man 2, Mimic 2, and Trick or Treat.
Dracula 2000 was directed and edited by Patrick Lussier, who also directed the films Drive Angry, The Prophecy 3, White Noise 2, and the remake of My Bloody Valentine, and cut such films as Scream, Mimic, New Nightmare, and Vampire in Brooklyn.
The cinematographer for the film was Peter Pau, who also shot Shoot Em Up, Double Team, Bride of Chucky, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The musical score for Dracula 2000 was provided by Marco Beltrami, who also did the music for the movies Scream, Snowpiercer, Hellboy, and The Faculty.
The team of producers on Dracula 2000 included the famed Miramax duo of brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein, acclaimed horror master Wes Craven, W.K. Border (The Prophecy, Maniac Cop 3), Marianne Maddalena (Scream, Shocker, The People Under The Stairs), Andrew Rona (The Brothers Grimm, Mimic), and Ron Schmidt (Foxcatcher, Black Snake Moan).
The makeup effects for the film were provided by Wendi Lynn Allison (24), Carla Brenholtz (Sabotage), Snowy Highfield (Pulse, Burying the Ex), Paul Jones (Wishmaster) Steven Lawrence (I Know Who Killed Me), Sean Sansom (Jason X), Gary J. Tunnicliffe (Blade), and Mark Wotton (Hannibal, Jason X).
The Dracula 2000 special effects crew included Taku Dazai (Death to Smoochy, Slither), James Gawley (Jacob’s Ladder), Daniel Gibson (X-Men), Walter Klassen (Death to Smoochy, Tommy Boy), Ted Ross (In The Mouth of Madness, The Fly).
The cast for the film included Johnny Lee Miller (Hackers), Gerard Butler (Reign of Fire, 300), Christopher Plummer (Wolf, The Sound of Music), Justine Waddell (The Fall), Jenifer Esposito (Crash), Omar Epps (House M.D.), Sean Patrick Thomas (The Fountain), Danny Masterson (That 70s Show), and Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle).
The plot of Dracula 2000 follows the traditional Bram Stoker vampire mythos into present-day New Orleans, with a few religious twists on the lore. Dracula is revived after a botched robbery at Van Helsing’s estate, leading to a series of vampiric shenanigans.
Dracula 2000 interestingly has no relation to the infamously terrible Dracula 3000, but did have two direct-to-video sequels: 2003’s Dracula II: Ascension and 2005’s Dracula III: Legacy.
Dracula 2000 was made on an estimated budget of $54 million, on which it grossed $33 million domestically and a total of $47 million worldwide, making it a financial failure on the whole.
The reception for Dracula 2000 was generally negative. It currently holds a 4.9 rating on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 17% from critics and 40% from general audiences.
The long life of Van Helsing, which is critical to the plot of Dracula 2000, isn’t explained particularly well in the story. He is revealed to have lived multiple generations (he poses as his own grandson), which is related to his injections of what is shown to be vampire blood harvested through leeches. While this treatment does give him an unnaturally long life, he doesn’t appear to become an actual vampire as a result of it. It is never really clear how these rules work: do the leeches filter out the vampiric impurities of the blood? If so, why does it still make Van Helsing vital? While it does provide an interesting aesthetic and justification for Van Helsing’s presence, the gimmick ultimately doesn’t make a lot of sense.
It is explicitly stated in the first act of Dracula 2000 that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a fictional work that exists in the universe of the movie. However, people are shown to be inconsistent in their knowledge of vampire lore. For instance, the outside notion of a vampire actually being real doesn’t occur to any of the thieves in the movie, despite the fact that they discover a locked coffin in the catacombs beneath a building owned by a man named Van Helsing. With the amount of prep work that they had to have done for the job (including the creation of elaborate fake optics and voice replication of Van Helsing), there’s just no way that at least a passing reference to Dracula wouldn’t have been made by somebody on the crew.
Another minor detail that bothered me in this movie is that Dracula is shown to be invisible to video recording. Clearly, this was a way to update the concept of vampires not appearing in mirrors, but it just didn’t work very well for me. It felt like an excuse to have shots of people being choked by an invisible entity, which didn’t come out quite as chilling or interesting as the filmmakers had hoped.
One of the most loathed modifications to the Dracula lore in Dracula 2000 is the revelation that Dracula is the biblical traitor Judas Iscariot. This ties into a bit of a larger problem with the movie: it has an extreme amount of religious rhetoric, even for a vampire tale. By the end of the movie, the story makes the director’s cut of The Exorcist look subtle.
The stunts and effects used in Dracula 2000 are unfortunately underwhelming, with a lot of cheap wire work and shoddy-looking visual effects. The action sequences aren’t particularly action-packed, making the generally brooding tone and slow pace all the more painful to sit through.
If there is anything really positive to say about Dracula 2000, it is that Gerard Butler is pretty solid as the eponymous blood-sucker (despite limited time in the movie), and it is pretty interesting to see him in a film that was a good few years before his rise to prominence. It is also pretty great to see Nathan Fillion, regardless of how fleeting his role is in the movie. Unfortunately, there isn’t nearly so much positive to say about the rest of the cast, which range anywhere from mediocre to abysmal with their performances.
Overall, Dracula 2000 is a pretty weak movie that was clearly patched together to capitalize on the concept alone. The amount of product placement is almost as nauseating as the soundtrack, and the highlights that do pop up here and there are scarce. Personally, I don’t think there is quite enough entertaining going on here to recommend it as a bad movie watch, and there are many more entertaining and fun vampire movies out there to spend time watching. Unless you are determined to see every film incarnation of Dracula, there isn’t much of a reason to sit through this one.