Dracula 2001 (2000)

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Directed by Patrick Lussier
Starring Johnny Lee Miller, Gerard Butler and Christopher Plummer

BMM keywords: Gratuitous sex, Pitiful attempts at cool, egregious gore & Metal soundtrack, Gratuitous sweeping aerial shots.

    A bunch of high-tech thieves break into Van Helsing’s antique storage depot in London, steal a coffin believing it to have some treasures inside; instead of containing valuables it has a lot of dry ice, some Leeches and the body of Dracula. Who promptly awakes chows down on the thieves and heads to New Orleans in search of Van Helsing’s daughter and future bride Mary. Van Helsing and his assistant Simon following in not so hot pursuit whilst Dracula swaggers around Mardi Gras and record shops chomping on nubile sexy teenagers until he gets to Mary.
    Van Helsing gets killed leaving antiques dealer Simon to rescue Mary from the clutches of Dracula.
    It all culminates in a rooftop finale where we find out Dracula was in fact Judas and has been cursed for eternal damnation to walk the Earth as an sexy charismatic immortal with superhuman strength (bummer!). The only way he can be killed is to be hung from a Crucifix in the Sun (whoa triple whammy!), which he is…And Mary and Simon return to London to become Vampire hunters…Or something.

   If you're wondering about the title and the release date, it helps to know that the US title was Dracula 2000, but in the UK it wasn't released until 2001.

What’s wrong with it?

    Ah Dracula; One of those choice roles that needs a very charismatic actor to play. Who do with get for this film’s Dracula? The bastard love child of Art Malick and Paul Mcgann. Gerard Butler flounders in the role with almost zero chemistry and charisma. With his incessant whinging, billowy clothes and Kevin Keagan Mullet hairstyle he’s supposed to be a hit with the ladies? There’s a scene where he minces into a Virgin Megastore dressed in a dressing gown (only one of the numerous product placements for Virgin in the film) that’s full of sexy young woman, all of which stare misty eyed at him and he proceeds to cop off with Mary’s flatmate.

    He’s ably backed up in bad acting stakes (no pun intended) by Johnny Lee Miller who lumbers through the film with an equally silly haircut and Michael Caine/Dick Van Dyke ‘cock-er-nee’ accent.

What’s right with it?

    Christopher Plummer lends the film some class (and another silly accent) as Van Helsing. Sadly he gets creamed almost as soon as he’s explained the plot though.
    The females actually come off with a little more credibility. Mary (Justine Waddell) is quite watchable, and winsome enough for you to actually care about her. Jennifer Esposito and Teri Ryan, although with little to do other than ooze sex appeal and moan provocatively do it well.
    The film is quick slickly done, with some great moody scenes (especially the ones set in Victorian London) and there’s some nice effects and some interesting (albeit bizarre) ideas.

How bad is it really?

    I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed it. The director keeps things moving competently enough.
    But in terms of quality, it’s pretty low.

Best bit?

    Probably Van Helsing's rapid firing silver stake launcher. Or the ingenious multi-usage of garden shears to despatch vampires.

What’s up with…?


Production Values – Good. Nice effects, moody settings, some funky zero gravity shagging scenes and a decent creepy score. Looses a few points for the shocking ‘Virgin’ plugging every 20 minutes. 9

Dialogue and performance – The script chugs along and is taken with a small bucketful of salt. Acting is varied between unadulterated ham (Plummer), cue card reading (Miller) sulky teenage brooding (Butler) and excessive pouting (Ryan, Esposito) 16

Plot and execution – Everyone knows the Dracula plot, and this bends the rules slightly, but contains nothing too radical. It’s well handled with some good action set pieces and pacing. 9

Randomness – The plot jumps around a fair bit, but the majority of it is straightforward…If you can get over the whole ‘Judas’ thing. 10

Waste of potential – Hey I’ve come to realise there’ll never be a Dracula film to match the Christopher Lee ones. At least you knew where you were with Peter Cushing! 12

Overall 56%


Ripper (2001) (aka Ripper: Letter From Hell)

Directed by John Eryes
Starring Jurgen Prochnow (uh-oh), Bruce Payne (Uh-oh!) and Kelly Brook (UH-OH!!!!!)

BMM keywords: Incomprehensible, egregious violence, so bad it hurts, Gratuitous sweeping aerial shots, Bruce Payne.

    The film opens with Molly (A.J Cook) running for her life in the woods. All around her are women crucified to trees, and someone half buried "What do you want from me?" she shouts before escaping onto what we later find out to be the serial killer’s luxury yacht. She escapes, not before knocking a potential victim into the propellers.
    Fast forward five years and Molly (now Ginger and grungy) is studying a bizarre ‘genetics/criminology 101’ course with creepy profiler/writer/suspect Mr Kane (Payne, thankfully without turquoise lipstick!) a bunch of clichéd, and not terribly likeable, teenagers (including former Big Breakfast presenter Brook).
    One by one her classmates get pegged off, so the remaining students band together to do a profile of the murderer (despite the randomness of the killings!)
    They deduce it’s in fact a copycat killer of Jack the Ripper, and conveniently (although not for them) all their initials match the original Whitechapel victims of 1886, so they are all for the chop…
    After some timewasting pop-promo bits involving Molly running, climbing cliffs and graffiting her basement (or is it a roof?) and snogging Mr Kane, the teens go off to an empty shack in the woods (for some reason). Soon after, the lights all go out, and the ‘Satellite phone’ needs re-installing, everyone goes off to get help, get on-line or get killed.
    It turns out it was Bruce Payne all along…No wait, it was a schizophrenic Molly…No wait it’ll all be explained at the end.

    The End.


What’s wrong with it?

    Pretty much everything. Acting, directing, writing, credibility…It’s all wrong!

What’s right with it?

    Nothing at all.

How bad is it really?

    Man Alive! It’s the worst film Bruce Payne has ever been in! Quake in your boots, it truly is!

Best Bit?

    There isn’t one…Unless the concept of Kelly Brook being dropped from a roof, then repeatedly stabbed is a plus point.

What’s up with…?


Production Values – Grainy, dimly lit woods, epileptic editing. The mumbling French actress or the mumbling German U-boat captain (Jurgen Prochnow) are given all the explanation scenes. 19

Dialogue and performance – The script has classy retorts like "Fuck you man!" and nubile young teenagers walk down corridors saying "Is there anyone in here?". The entire cast is forgettable; Bruce and Jurgen don’t even seem to be remotely interested in trying. The day when even Bruce Payne can’t be arsed to ham up for your film…You know you’ve got troubles! 18

Plot and execution – The plot rambles along at a snails pace until it is time for another teenager to be butchered. There is no red herrings, no twists…Just confusion. It’s a complete shambles. I’m honestly surprised there wasn’t an ‘Alan Smithee’ director credit…19

Randomness – Where to begin? The whole thing doesn’t make a scrape of sense. How did Molly get into the woods at the start? What was all the crucifixion stuff (Not Jack the Rippers M.O)? Who was the killer? Why do none of the students notice there’s a new kid in there class (he was on loan from the Drama class, to fake begin sliced by Mr Kane)? Who, what where and a big side order of Why? 20

Waste of Potential – This could have been a decent trashy teen slasher. Or a contemporary Ripper story…Hell the James Spader film ‘Jack’s Back’ showed it could be done, in America and reasonably well made. I actually rented a second ‘Jack the Ripper’ film as part of a double bill…But it was actually too good to review (it looked Oscar worthy compared to this), and that was a TV movie starring Patrick Bergin and Michael York…19

Overall 95%


Watchers (1988)

Secret experiment, Unstopabble monster, Deadly mistake...

Directed by Jon Hess
Starring Corey Haim and Michael Ironside.

    When whiney teenager Travis Cornell (Corey Haim) finds a stray super intelligent dog he takes it in, only to realise it’s being stalked by a super psychotic baboon/gorilla hybrid designed as the ultimate soldier (isn’t that Kurt Russell?) called the ‘Oxcom’.
    Michael Ironside shows up as NSO Agent ‘Johnson’ tracking both creatures and generally killing witnesses (after explaining them the plot). But wait…Michael Ironside is also a genetically mutated killing machine.
    The end gets all a bit ‘Macguyver’ as Haim goes off into the woods, builds lots of traps and gadgets, stabs Ironside in the neck and has a final ‘mano-a-talon’ with the Oxcom.

What’s wrong with it?

    Corey Haim, who spends the entire film whinging, or mugging at the camera. The dull pacing, over egged direction and 80’s sub ‘Terminator’ score. Limp performances (even from Michael Ironside). And there’s clearly no hiding the fact that it’s a bloke in an unconvincing Gorilla costume as the Oxcom.

What’s right with it?

The dog, who is by far the best actor in the whole thing.

How bad is it really?

    It’s another of those films you remember liking when you 13…But then realise they are in fact complete shite…

Best Bit?

    When Jason Priestly and the guy with the black mullet (with blond streaks) get ripped apart by the monster. Thank God!

What’s up with…?


Production Values – Mostly filmed in woodland settings (in Canada). The effects are of the crappy ‘dude in a Monkey suit’ variety. 17

Dialogue and performances – Limp, none of the actors are trying…At all. The script is nothing special; lots of dull explanation scenes and even duller gory deaths. 14

Plot and execution – The plot was actually based on the Novel, and is quite a good concept. But the whole thing has been butchered and cack-handedly directed you couldn’t care less. As for the protagonists, you begin to wish the heroes would just get killed to stop their moaning (or high pitch shrieking…which goes for Haim too) and the baddies are either Michael Ironside (no sympathy there) or Chewbacca's little brother. 16

Randomness – When compressing a 400-page best-seller into a Roger Corman produced 80-minute movie, you can guess there’s been some trimming. So inevitably huge sections are missing, so it doesn’t really make sense. Plus the crowbarred ‘Michael Ironside is a genetically created killing machine’ scene suddenly crops up at the end, and serves no purpose, other than to make him evil(er). 17

Waste of Potential – A cracking novel, with a great storyline, lots of action, sex and scares, a solid buffed hero, decent characters (well as decent as Dean Koontz gets), this was brimming with possibilities…But what did we get? Corey Haim, with a mullet, shrieking like a girl…Get in line folks! 20

Overall 84%