|Thomas Kretschmann as Dracula|
Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) arrives in the town of Hapsburg to do work for Count Dracula (Thomas Kretschmann), who has a sinister reputation. Waiting for his wife, Mina (Marta Gastini), to join him, Harker renews his friendship with Lucy (Asia Argento), who begins withering from the attacks on her by Dracula. Apparently Dracula is primarily interested in Mina, whom he believes to be a reincarnation of his wife, who died 400 years earlier. Will Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer) be able to save her from the fatal "love" of the vampire? Argento's version of Dracula seems to take its cue from the earlier Dan Curtis telefilm (and other versions), adding an unconvincing pseudo-romantic subplot that barely amounts to anything. The film's main strength is Kretshmann's excellent portrayal of the undead count -- attractive and compelling he makes the best Dracula since Christopher Lee. If only Argento's picture had the entertainment value of the best of the Hammer Dracula films. There is one striking scene when Dracula forms from a swarm of bees then rapidly dispatches several men who are conspiring against him -- naturally this has its share of gore a la Argento -- but otherwise the film is relatively lethargic and minor, with no real justification for yet another version of the story. The other actors all give good performances for the most part, although a fatigued Hauer seems rather uninterested in the proceedings. The picture is not especially scary, but there are some good FX, including a giant preying mantis that seems dragged in as an extra added attraction. This version takes place entirely in Hungary. The following year Kretschmann played Van Helsing -- not Dracula -- in the TV series, Dracula.
Verdict: Paging Peter Cushing. **.