Halloween Scene: Dracula 2000 (2000)

I believe I saw Dracula 2000 in the theaters with my friends. I would have been about 17 at the time and had been watching horror movies extensively for a year or so at that time. If memory serves it was the first feature length version of the Dracula story that I ever saw. I’d seen or heard enough through cartoons and TV to understand the basics: some people encounter Dracula who winds up surrounded by vampire chicks, but wants another woman who’s harder to get. Meanwhile, some humans of the Van Helsing family are trying to stop him. My problem with the Dracula movies I’ve seen is that they follow the template too closely. If you’ve seen the original–or even Nosferatu–then you’ve pretty much got the gist. I had this problem with the last two Drac movies I watched Count Dracula And His Vampire Bride and the 1979 Dracula. Just absolutely boring.

I did not have that problem with the unfortunately named Dracula 2000. Any movie with a year in the title, especially the year 2000, just comes off as gimmicky and corny, doesn’t it? Anyway, the story this time around is that Van Helsing trapped Dracula years and years ago, but when he did their blood mingled, granting him a portion of immortal life which he uses to make sure no one accidentally brings Drac back. Of course, that doesn’t work out as one of his workers winds up telling her boyfriend and his crew of criminals about Van Helsing’s secret vault. They break in and grab the casket, thinking it’s an elaborate safe, and wind up resurrecting the original vampire. From there Dracula (played by an almost unrecognizable Gerard Butler) amasses his trio of hot lady vamps (Vitamin C, Jennifer Esposito and Jeri Ryan) and stats stalking Mary who happens to be VH’s daughter. Joining Mary on the side of the angels is Johnny Lee Miller as Van Helsing’s young protege.

I like this flick because, while it does stand on the structure of a traditional Dracula movie, it also updates things, including setting and special effects. Those other two movies I mentioned were both made in the 70s but set in the Victorian era which is ultimately another boring trope you’ve seen several times. D2K is set in modern day London and then New Orleans, features some pretty impressive wire-fu stunts and takes advantage of technology without relying on it too much. There’s only one CGI scene I can remember that looked cheesy (when Dracula turns into a wolf), which is pretty impressive considering how bad some of the movies from this time look now.

Director Patrick Lussier, who also did My Bloody Valentine 3D, also seemed to have fun with the movie. I guess there was a bit of a trend of combining horror and action around this time with big budgets like Brothers Grimm and Van Helsing, neither of which I’ve seen. It’s fun to see some money put behind one of these classic stories set modern times with the inclusion of big technologically impressive prisons, smaller secret hiding places and an arsenal of vamp-killing weapons. It’s also fun to see such a well-known cast. Nearly every role is filled with a name or at least a “that guy.” The crew of bad guys alone includes Omar Epps, Danny Masterson, the drunk roommate from Dead Man On Campus, Sean Patrick Thomas who was also in Halloween: Resurrection as my favorite character and Esposito. Nathan Fillion plays a priest. IMDb tells me Shane West was even in the movie, but I can’t remember who he played! And, to add a connection to the flicks that came before it, Christopher Plummer plays Van Helsing.

I remember being pretty blown away by the reveal of Dracula origins when I saw this in the theater. SPOILERS I guess if you haven’t seen it. We’re shown that Dracula was actually Judas, the man who, according to the Bible, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. This explains why silver hurts vampires. Kinda neat, right? I thought so, and still do, though I see a few problems with it now. If the whole eternal life thing is supposed to be a punishment from God, why does Dracula wind up causing even more trouble for humanity? Wouldn’t it have been better for him to just die and go to hell? On the other hand, maybe humanity was intended to be punished for allowing the son of God to be murdered? I’m not sure. Maybe it was better explained and I missed it, but I thought it was an interesting take on a story I’ve read and seen hundreds of times.

I highly recommend watching Dracula 2000. I’m usually pretty skeptical about these early 00 horror movies because most of them are pretty bad. Sometimes you stumble across something like Halloween: Resurrection that isn’t great, but not as bad as you thought it would be. I’d say that D2K is actually a good vampire movie, with a new spin on the Dracula mythos, a solid cast and enough fun on the screen to keep you entertained. I’d say it’s probably one of my favorite Drac movies ever! Has anyone seen the sequels? I know they’re by the same director, but I assume the budgets were nowhere near as high. I think that, like this one, they’re available on Netflix Instant so maybe I’ll give them a whirl.