Van Helsing, driven by an obsessive desire for vengeance, pursues Dracula and his friends across Central Europe
In these times of True Blood and Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, when every bloodsucker is a brooding bag of hunksome repression and each of their paramours is a quivering, wobbling stick of adolescent longing, it is nice to come across a film that takes the vampire myth back to its roots. Bramblebum Barnabus Stoker, the author of ‘Dracula’, first conceived his story not as a tale of improbable romance nor as a horror-piece, but as a sort of proto-Top Cat. In this respect his novel was true to the original vision of Lord Byron, who used to draw little sketches on parchment of vampires wearing straw boaters and waistcoats.
So it is, in Francis Ford Scrofula’s adaptation that Dracula and his gang – Benny the Ball, Brains, Spicy Samuel, Fangmaster 2000 – root around in dustbins and scamper about on rooftops while suffering police harassment from an Officer-Gordon-like Van Helsing. Dracula is the coolest of all the quasi-feline street vampires, and he always knows how to get his kicks. ‘Hey Benny the Ball’, he says, ‘let’s have an illegal crap game in the alleyway and drink moonshine’. ‘Fuck yeah DC!’ replies Benny the Ball. ‘Hey Brains, let’s set up a pyramid scheme and fleece some chumps’ says Dracula. ‘Hey nice idea’ miaows Brains, ‘I’ll just rustle up some spurious business plans’. But their fun cannot last. Before long, that monomaniacal fascist pig Van Helsing is busting in on their scene and trampling all over their kicks. Eventually Dracula tears off Van Helsing’s head and sticks it on the railings outside town hall, but not before drinking monstrously of his severed arteries and exalting in the bloodfeast. No one catches out that old DC!
On the Coppola-ometer, this film rates above Godfather II but below Jeepers Creepers. It recalls the Sicilian hoodlummery of the former but fails to reach the winged beastliness of the latter. Keanu Reeves was a bad choice for Benny the Ball, although Philip Seymour Hoffman puts in a characteristically thoughtful performance as Fangmaster 2000. The script appears to have been written by a jive-talking bum-turkey, and is all the more authentic for that very reason. The score – a cacophony of boings, pings, and dwoinks – is a flipping disgrace. Tut Tut Coppola. Tut tut