Friday, July 25, 2014
Friday, July 18, 2014
The inaugural post in our countdown to Oct. 17's release of Dracula Untold, featuring one of the most ridiculously handsome men on the planet, Luke Evans. Jeanette and Molly feel the need to celebrate this as it's very rare for us to find a man we BOTH drool over. We have very different types. But in the Molly-Jeanette Venn Diagram of Hotness, Mr. Evans lands right in the middle.
And so we examine one of Molly's favorite versions of Dracula, Dracula 2000. And it's written from Molly's perspective because it's her post and she'll do what she wants.
(If you're watching at home, hit play now.)
OK, we have the pre-requisite scary image montage to show us that while the fillmakers are updating the classic Dracula tale, they still respect the original material. I call this the “We’re not going to crap all over your favorite story” montage. And holy hell, suddenly it’s modern day London and Carfax Abbey seems to be part of an enormous, super-modern mall.
Let’s just stop and admire the deliciousness of Jonny Lee Miller holding a crossbow.
It’s almost enough to make me miss the dialogue about antiques dealer “Matthew Van Helsing” being a put-upon descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, who doesn’t like to the talk about his grandpa inspiring Bram Stoker’s vampire hunter character. Or that his antiques business seems to deal exclusively in scary medieval weapons used to kill vampires. And he runs his dealership out of a building named Carfax Abbey. Coincidence, I tell you! Coincidence!
Meanwhile, Simon (Jonny Lee) is flirting with Selena (Jennifer Esposito) and she is turning him down flat, which is just proof that we can’t trust Selena.
And suddenly, we’re in a heist film. Selena is in on it, which proves my theory on her untrustworthiness. Omar Epps is in charge of this diverse, technologically advanced theft crew, which makes them significantly less scary.
The thieves completely ignore their sense of self-preservation as the stairway to the Abbey vault is decorated in a “fanged skulls and cobwebs” theme. Instead of saying, “Hey, the number of fanged skulls in this room seems… excessive for an antiques dealership. Let’s go bump off a nice safe auction house NOT associated with the Dracula legend,” they press on, griping about the lack of expected gold and jewels.
Poor Danny Masterson. Horror movies are historically discriminant against gingers, curly haired people and smartasses. Completely unfair. I estimate he has about ten more minutes to live.
OK, so when you rob a place and the big prize is a silver coffin with no latch, surrounded by skulls – bug out. The coffin is going to be booby trapped with spikes and swinging gates of death.
(Cue swinging gates of spiky death)
NO ONE LISTENS TO ME!
It’s hard to feel sorry for Mary Van Helsing and her “torturous” dreams of locked in a coffin with a hot dude with fangs. Personally, I think she should stop whining and go with it; particularly when she has more upsetting issues to contend with, like the fact that popstar Vitamin C (stunt casting!) is her roommate and coworker. She does not have access to any Vitamin C-free space. This is something to worry about.
(If you understood how many times I had to listen to “Graduation: Friends Forever” while covering school events, you would not judge me for my anti-Vitamin C feelings.)
Simon discovers Matthew bolting after the thieves and questions why he doesn’t maybe call 911 instead. Matthew yells something along the lines of “Don’t ask me questions about my business!” and catches a plane to New Orleans. He seems to instinctively know that this is exactly what the thieves are doing, except they are going the classy route and flying a private jet, US Flight 2KDoooooooooomed.
Danny Masterson fulfills my ten-minute guess by opening the coffin to reveal a leech-covered emaciated corpse, and Danny pokes it with a stick. Always a good idea. The corpse comes to life, drains the ginger dry, steals his coat and turns into a gorgeous, flowy coat-wearing vampire…. Who promptly shows Omar Epps that you never, ever doubt Dracula’s ability to steal your girlfriend with a meaningful look, then drains all of the thieves on board and crashes their plane into the swamp.
Mary has a vision of this carnage, which is upsetting since she’s awake instead of dreaming… also, Dracula seems to recognize her in that “Hey, didn’t you dance topless at Mardi Gras once?” way, which is never good. And then Lucy bursts through the illusion of Dracula like a puff of smoke, which is a super-crappy tradeoff.
Mary confesses her Dracu-lusions to her late mother’s priest, Father David (NATHAN FREAKING FILLION). And he is not very forthcoming about her family’s deep, dark, terrible secret. Basically, Nathan Fillion is equally reluctant to help distressed damsels as a priest and a space cowboy.
Meanwhile, in the swamp, smartass cameraman Shane West is shooting news gal Valerie’s (Jeri Ryan’s) report on the “Death Swamp Crash.” Shane West is both a smartass (see above) and not a beautiful blond and therefore expendable. Valerie is scared at first, but then willingly submits to being a hot vampire’s juicebox, which just goes to show you that Paducah, Ky., girls are smarter than almost everybody in this movie.
By the way, I am having super-inappropriate thoughts about Nathan Fillion in that priest’s collar. I should be ashamed.
But I’m not.
Matthew visits the death swamp church and uses his scary anti-vampire weapons on the now vampirized Omar Epps and Selena. (How did he get that stuff through airport security?) Simon witnesses this vampire versus old man confrontation and promptly flips the hell out.
Matthew explains that he is actually Abraham Van Helsing, (surprise!) and he helped capture Dracula back in Merry Old London during the events that inspired the book. He was accidentally infected with Dracula’s blood during the capture, and has become the Splenda of vampires –getting eternal life without the hassle of bloodthirst. For years, he filtered Drac’s blood through leeches and used it to stay alive. And when he settled down with Mrs. Van Helsing, Mary inherited the crazy coffin sex dreams and a link to the telepathic vampire network.
Having had another vision, Mary has bolted, leaving Drac with second-choice, Lucy. Lucy has so sense of girl code or self-preservation and promptly invites a total stranger with fangs back to her house.
Dracula assures her that he doesn’t drink coffee and then has sex with her against the ceiling. (It happens.) While this is an interesting scene and I totally dig hearing Dracula sweet talk, I didn’t need to see Vitamin C topless. Also, I’m pretty sure it makes Dracula terrible boyfriend material.
Simon demonstrates heretofore unknown badassery dispatching vampire Omar Epps, who learns an important lesson: Never eff with an antiques dealer.
Dracula straight up murders Van Helsing, telling him that his daughter is “my Mary now.” Cause the best way into a girl’s heart is murdering her roommate and leaving daddy’s corpse under her bed. And scrawling Aramaic messages in blood on her walls. And having your three girlfriends try to recruit her to your vampire pimp harem. And then sending a hallucinatory wolf after her, which turns into a flock of bats.
Also, vampire Lucy has some major jealousy issues and is a pretty crappy undead friend.
Again, Simon is showing some amazing proficiency with unfamiliar vampire-fighting weapons, especially while a girl is literally falling on top of him. What exactly are they teaching at British boarding schools?
There’s a lot riding on Mary’s shoulders right now. She’s Dracula’s chosen bride. She’s Simon’s shot at salvation and continued employment. Sometimes a girl just needs to step back and say, “you know what, I just want to eat ice cream in my yoga pants. Keep your vampire bullshit to yourself.”
It’s exposition time. I’m bored and thinking about Nathan Fillion in the priest outfit again.
I gotta be honest, if vampire Gerard Butler was chasing me through a cemetery, I would just let him catch me. Even if he is making vampire duck faces.
“Everything I am is yours and all you are is mine.” OK, I fell for it. Can’t help it. It’s an awesome line.
Dracula’s brides have changed into three white gowns of alternating necklines. Simon foolishly follows them into the Dracula’s Bride Storage Warehouse. Valerie gets staked first while Selena and Lucy cartwheel out of the way, which I find remarkably anti-Kentucky. Also, I call bullshit on anybody being able to cartwheel in a bridal gown.
In a sexy, blood-swapping Biblical flashback (words I never thought I’d write), Dracula reveals his origin story to Mary. Turns out Dracula is Judas Iscariot, cursed to live forever, with no shot at heaven, while being tortured by reminders of his betrayal – the cross, silver, holy water. The music of Vitamin C, whom he foolishly chose to make immortal.
Dracula decides to get his revenge on God by feeding from his children, Mary in particular. Unfortunately, Mary’s initiation into Club Vampire is killing Simon and she thinks he’s pretty cute.
Betrayal all around! Lucy discovers Mary faked biting Simon just before Mary shish kabobs Dracula and cuts off Lucy’s head. Selena, whose hair has inexplicably grown two feet in the last hour, is dispatched at last by Simon. For the record, I am now going to carry a pair of hedge clippers with me, everywhere I go.
Dracula’s all, “Bitch, my middle name is Betrayal!” and proves my bad boyfriend theory by tossing Mary around like an adorable rag doll. She makes good use of Dracula’s blood swap, breaking out British kung fu moves and hanging Drac from a neon cross. (Irony!)
Dracula releases Mary from his vampire-y curse, which still doesn’t make him a nice guy. And then he bursts into flames because Simon and Mary timed this just before sunrise.
It’s actually pretty realistic that this would happen, dangling over Bourbon Street, and no one would notice.
So Mary and Simon return to London, presumably to deal in antiques and hunt vampires on the side. Mary keeps her ash-crumbled ex in a coffin in the family vault. Everybody lives happily ever after.
Except for the people who were decapitated with hedge clippers.
So ten years after watching it for the first time, overall, I still enjoyed the movie. It’s likeable and campy and has a sense of fun about it. And it helped me remember why I based my first vampire hero’s appearance on Gerard Butler. But I still haven’t forgiven him for The Ugly Truth. Or Vitamin C. For everything.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Happy Release Day! BETTER HOMES AND HAUNTINGS is now available in print, ebook and audio from these lovely vendors:
BARNES AND NOBLE
SIMON AND SCHUSTER