The connection between sex and death announces itself throughout all vampire movies. Yet few takes literalize the link as brazenly as Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D, a camp-fest that plays like a paean to the schlockier aspects of Argento’s ’70s horror heyday, evincing a B-movie attitude toward gratuitous nudity and illogical gags (though if you’ve ever wanted to see the Count turn into a gargantuan preying mantis, buckle up: This Dracula can become any creature he desires). Curious embellishments aside, Argento’s narrative hews closely to the original novel, with Dracula (Thomas Kretschmann, grandiose) imprisoning librarian Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) and then going after his wife (Marta Gastini). With the juxtaposition of Dracula’s ornate home with his vicious tendencies (the Count dismantles townsfolk with animalistic brutality), Argento highlights the tale’s fascination with high culture and base behavior, aided by Kretschmann’s ability (though unsubtle) to perform at both ends of the spectrum. Yet the laughably bad CGI (the aforementioned mantis brought out peals during a screening) and clumsy dubbing ensures that we’re unable to suspend our disbelief, firmly marking the film as camp. Unfortunately, Argento never acknowledges he’s in on the joke, nor is the film quite ridiculous enough for us to coast enjoyably on derision. When it comes to B-movies, sometimes anything less than way too much isn’t nearly enough.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 2, 2013