Thursday, December 15, 2011

Argento Finally Loses It

That's Rutger Hauer as Abraham Van Helsing in Dario Argento's upcoming Dracula 3D. Argento is the director of what many consider to be the seminal giallo film, Suspiria. Argento's 20-odd other fims include the classics The Bird with the Crystal Plumage; Deep Red and Tenebre. His films usually feature American or British stars who speak English and are later dubbed into Italian (except in English speaking countries, where the Italian actors are dubbed in English). They also often feature his daughter Asia, who is best known in the U.S. for George A. Romero's Land of the Dead and Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.

While I understand the appeal of Argento's films, I don't really count myself a fan. They are often boring and make little sense, even after the killer is revealed, though they usually have an artistic flair rarely seen in American slasher movies. Of course, Argento's last film, 2009's Giallo (featuring Adrian Brody), was critically reviled and only released in the U.S. direct-to-DVD. It performed so poorly, Brody had to sue to claim his salary, blocking the DVD release until he received his contracted fees.

Argento is back, with his own take on the Bram Stoker novel, shooting in 3D. The movie stars Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong; Wanted) as Dracula; hunky Spaniard Unax Ugalde (Goya's Ghosts) as Harker and Asia Argento as Lucy, as well a bunch of Italian and German actors playing characters which cannot be found in Stoker's novel. Thanks to JA at My New Plaid Pants, here's the teaser trailer (which is still missing some key effects):

Wow. Okay, let's start with the positives: The film seems to have an old Hammer Studios vibe from the days when Christopher Lee played Dracula and Peter Cushing was Van Helsing. And there seems to be a bit of bare boobage for the str8 boys. And Rutger Hauer will always be badass. But that's all I got.

The negatives? I can't begin to count them. But, I will start with the GIANT EFFING PRAYING MANTIS!!! Seriously - WTF? I have read Stoker's novel several times. Hell, I even wrote the lyrics and libretto for a musical adaptation of it. I am intimately familiar with that novel and I can assure you that NO WHERE in "Dracula" is there a giant praying mantis. Seriously, this movie is just dying for the MT3K treatment, and it hasn't even been released.  I can only conclude that Argento has completely lost his mind. Either that, or he's pulling the greatest prank in film history. 

I really can't decide whether I want to see this movie or not. Will I laugh at it's obvious ineptitude or just be sad to see one of the most famous pieces of English literature get bastardized even worse than in Andy Warhol's Blood for Dracula? Maybe if I see it with two smart-ass robots...

More, anon.

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