Dario Argento’s “Dracula 3D” sets a tone for the next generation of Argento fans that is a mildly flat sound quizzical sadness. The film was heralded as the great horror master’s return but proves to be anything more than the standard absurdity that quite frankly Dario Argento’s work has always been seen as by me. That sounds really bad and may make me seem like a horrible horror fan but in all honestly Dario’s films have never been top shelf cinematic gold, the films have maintained a basic over-the-top, ridiculousness that seemed more tongue-in-cheek, grandeur. Which is really what I always loved about his films. If I wanted to watch serious, grounded horror I would always turn to the more mature horror styles like Fulci or America’s own John Carpenter, both of whom maintain a classic balance of dark situation with a black satirical subtext. Argento is awesome because of the simple fact that his films have always been anything but serious attempts at horror storytelling. Which is no different in his revision of “Dracula 3D”. As a kid I reacted much the same way over his classic heralded films “Trauma” and “Suspiria” with the same wide-eyed, confusion that I experienced watching “Dracula 3D”. Okay so “Dracula 3D” carried the absurdity a bit further but not by much more than is his normal amount of off-beat, illogical vision of theatrics.
“Dracula 3D” offers a blended story that seems part classic Dracula lore mixed with Hammer’s own mythos for the Prince of Darkness. There is an obvious lackadaisical approach to Dracula story that begins almost in the middle, forcing the viewer to stay focused on this particular retelling of Bram’s story. There isn’t much that is recognizable and I found myself having to remind myself that I was watching “Dracula” because there is almost nothing other than the names that resembles the classic tale and the film shows more of a Hammer Film’s influence than Bram Stoker. It is a bit cumbersome in creating an instant connection with the film and the characters but I found myself very captivated by this story that almost made for an original counter-piece. The characters fall short of actualizing into multifaceted personas but I have always found that to be the case with Argento’s characters. The emotion and interactions to the situations his characters often face have always seemed sterile and robotic. It does very little to disconnect me completely from “Dracula 3D” much as the characters in his previous material have not keep me from getting into the films. To me this is one component that makes Dario Argento’s style so Dario Argento. Either you like his film and style or you don’t. The fact that his style of telling a story is often so overtly bad is what I like about his films.
The special effects and sound effects in “Dracula 3D” are borderline terrible. Mostly the effects, they offer more visual spectacle akin to SyFy or below B-movie quality than one would expect from Argento with this caliber of film. Plus the 3D tricks are subpar or mediocre at best. So that was a bit of a downer, even for such a liberal horror fan as I am. I personally don’t get the whole 3D schtick, wasn’t impressed with it as a kid and even with today’s new technology I still am not impressed with it. So that instant dismissal of the 3D gimmick in “Dracula 3D” has no baring in my review of this film. The special effects though is another matter. It was far too cheap to overlook. The sound effects and musical score for the film seems pretty cool, offering an expected creepy, haunting feeling that you would expect in a Dracula or film like this. For me, “Dracuala 3D” is standard Argento level story telling, take that as good or bad. This film is plenty bad and on the cultish, bad movie level there is plenty that will make the film good, at least for those of us who have no decades built delusion that Dario Argento’s work has been anything but bad, tacky awesomely fun cinema wasteland viewing. “Dracula 3D” is a film that, if you are only looking for some tongue-in-cheek, WTF film fun, you may enjoy- I did. However if you only have room for serious horror stories and films that take the Dracula material straight forward then definitely skip this film because it is more laughable than entertaining on that level-but then why would you really be watching a Dario Argento film anyway?!