THN’s Guilty Pleasures: Dracula 2000

Or DRACULA 2001. Depends on which country you’re in. In any case, it was produced by horror legend Wes Craven and directed by his longtime partner Patrick Lussier and is a loose sequel/retread to the original tale.

1897: Van Helsing – played by Christopher Plummer, no less – manages to finally trap Dracula in London and seals him away underneath Carfax Abbey in a silver coffin. Unable to kill the count, Van Helsing reasons that if Drac can’t die, then neither will he. And so Van Helsing develops away to literally leech immortality from Dracula.

Jump forward 104 years and Van Helsing is still looking pretty spry, running a successful antiques business, with Jonny Lee Miller as his apprentice/surrogate son Simon. But Simon’s colleague and former girlfriend (Jennifer Esposito) turns out to be in with Omar Epps’ gang of techno-thieves, who break into the original Carfax abbey and make off with the only thing of any worth they can find; a rather snazzy silver coffin. En route to the Cayman Islands, the gang start squabbling over what is is they’ve taken while they try and crack the coffin open. Naturally, Dracula manages to break out and feast on a few of the hapless thieves – regenerating into Gerard Butler – and causes the plane to crash near New Orleans, where Van Helsing’s estranged daughter Mary just happens to be living…

From then on it’s pretty much a standard vampire movie; beautiful people being bitten, fighting, killing, and being killed in a variety of imaginative ways. Dracula struts through New Orleans oozing charm and menace, bedding then biting Mary’s bestest friend to add to his obligatory collection of brides. Van Helsing buys the farm and passes the torch to a new generation of vampire hunters, and the heroes manage to work out Dracula’s one true weakness in the space of a day, something Van Helsing himself couldn’t pull off in 120-odd years. The scourge of humanity is defeated and the credits roll to the tune of Linkin Park’s ‘One Step Closer’.

As a movie, it’s slick, it’s sexy, it does what it says on the tin. It’s not as gloomy and pretentious as UNDERWORLD, has more of a sense of humour than BLADE, and it shares more than a little DNA with BUFFY. Some of the product placement is a little ham-fisted, as is some of the acting, but if you’re looking for a dumb, sexy, park-your-brain movie, you could do worse than this.

But then the movie goes off in another direction entirely, and that’s where my love for the film really lies. As they desperately try to find a way to defeat Dracula, Simon and Mary discover the reason WHY Dracula is so averse to crosses, silver and Christianity in general…

He’s freakin’ Judas Iscariot, the guy who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. As punishment for his betrayal he was cursed to walk the earth in darkness, and eventually took the name of Dracula. It was a real curveball first time I saw it, and the concept still fascinates me today.

It’s a pretty bold and unique spin on the tale, and Butler’s tortured, embittered Dracula/Judas has a surprising sympathy. He feels gypped because his betrayal was necessary for Jesus to rise to power and change the world.

DRACULA 2000 failed to make back its budget and is generally considered an amusing little curio as far as vampire movies go, but it’s one of those films I can always go back to and enjoy, whether it’s picking out the injokes or just ogling the cast. It’s one of those films you can just sit back and enjoy with a beer after a long hard day at work.

And it includes one of my all-time favourite movie one-liners, courtesy of Johnny Lee Miller.

You never fuck with an antiques dealer.

You can see the rest of our guilty pleasures here

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