MAY 21, 2008
I learned something today that changed my entire outlook on ridiculous plot twists. For years, I thought “Alucard” was something invented by the creators of Castlevania III, only to discover that Son Of Dracula had come up with this ‘genius’ concept some 45 years previous. Credit where credit is due! It’s not quite as idiotic as “Nilbog”, but it’s not as clever as “Dr. Acula”, either.
It would be one thing if this was implemented and quickly understood, but no – they actually try to make it some sort of mystery. The first time it is shown, the guy looks at the name, and begins to puzzle over it, only to shrug it off. WHAT COULD IT MEAN?!?!? (is what I assume we in the audience are supposed to be thinking).
Stupidity is actually the order of the day in this movie. Take, for example, this bewildering exchange from later on in the movie, after Drac’s enemy has escaped from jail:
Professor: “Did you hear him do any talking?”
The Dumbest Cop Alive: “Some kind of trick he pulls... he pretends to talk in his voice and then hers!”
Professor: “Did you listen in like we asked you to?”
TDCA: “Yeah but it was too crazy to bother about.”
Professor: “For instance?”
TDCA: “Well, the girl’s voice said something about getting him out of jail...”
Professor: “Well that wasn’t too crazy – he’s out!”
TDCA: “Yeah I never thought of that....”
It doesn’t seem to be played for laughs.
Also problematic is Lon Chaney as “Alucard”. He’s fine in the other monster roles, but he just doesn’t work as a vampire (not even a spinoff of one). He is lacking Lugosi’s charm, and big does not equal menace for vampires. And since none of the other cast members have stuck around by now, it makes the movie feel even more of a cheap knockoff than the real deal.
Still, it has some good moments, and of course, the effects are pretty impressive for back in the day (this was the first to show Drac transforming into a bat). I particularly liked the mist effects, such as when a real puff of smoke slowly becomes an animated one, which in turn becomes Dracula (this moment is a bit botched due to the fact that the other characters in the scene somehow don’t even notice it). Since they obviously weren’t spending any money on developing the script, it’s nice to see they went all out for the FX guys.
One nice touch – Universal has kept in the original ad for war bonds at the end of the film. The ad essentially says “Buy a war bond.” I wish modern advertisements were as direct, instead of the abstract bullshit we get nowadays. The other day I watched 3 commercials in a row that I had no real idea of what was being advertised until the announcer said so. Why would watching computer animation of a guy getting tortured make me want to drink a goddamn Sprite?
What say you?