Directed by Dario Argento


This was the official website for the 2012 horror film DRACULA 3D, directed by Dario Argento. Asia Argento stars in horror legend Dario Argento's sexy spin on the classic tale about the sharp-toothed count who craves human blood.
Content is from the site's 2012 archived pages as well as from other outside sources.


Dracula 3D Official Trailer #1 (2012) - Dario Argento, Rutger Hauer
A young librarian, Jonathan Harker, is welcomed at Castle Dracula by the Count and a young woman named Tania, who seems intent on seducing Harker. The Count prevents Tania from biting the young man, but Dracula attacks Harker himself, leaving the him weak. Harker attempts to escape the castle, but is killed by a wolf. Harker's wife, Mina, arrives in the village and stays at the home of her friend, Lucy Kisslinger. Worried about her husband, she visits the castle, and falls under the spell of the Count. It transpires that Dracula has engineered their meeting, because Mina is the reincarnation of his long-lost love, Dolinger. Lucy also becomes undead before the mysterious happenings in the village attract the attention of vampire expert Van Helsing, who prepares for final combat with his deadliest foe.

A movie By 

Director of Photography 
Luciano Tovoli aic - imago 

Dario Argento 
Antonio Tentori 
Stefano Piani 
Enrique Cerezo 

Visual Effects Digital 
Rebel Alliance 

Digital Effects Supervisor 
Raffaele Apuzzo 
John Attard 

VFX Producer 
Andrea Marotti
3D Stereo -Technical Supply 
DBW Communication 

3D Stereo Stereographer 
Jean-Antoine Delille 

3D Stereo Image Supervisor 
Stephen Rebechi 

SFX Make Up Created by 
Sergio Boots 

Original Music composed by 
Claudio Simonetti 

Film Editor 
Marshall Harvey ace 
Daniele Campelli
Designer Costume 
Monica Celeste 

Production Designer 
Antonello Geleng 

Claudio Cosentino asc 

Technicolor Rome


An update: 2020 Covid 19 Pandemic in Melbourne Australia
One hundred eleven days in lock down was finally lifted October ending a dizzying and surreal experience that many of us in Melbourne have described to friends and family living elsewhere as an emotional roller coaster. The rollback came after the city reported zero new coronavirus cases for two days straight an amazing feat from the hundreds logged each day during the outbreak’s peak in late July and early August. Working at home, watching movies from my computer and playing some of the best pokies online at my two favorite internet casinos Fair Go and Uptown Pokies. Aussie punters turned to the internet in droves when our local pokie venues shuttered their doors. When the Australian government ordered Australia’s gambling operators to close their venues for up to six months to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, it affected both workers at the venues and players. I read somewhere that since the outbreak of the coronavirus, it is estimated that over 600,000 casino employees have been furloughed or laid off due to the pandemic. Ouch, that has really hurt the industry. A lot of my friends went nuts, Australians like their gambling. Australia’s gambling losses per adult are more than double those in the United States, and around 50 percent higher than second-placed Singapore, according to H2 Gambling Capital, an analytics company. I play pokies for fun with a limited budget that I stay within. But anyone under a shut down for 111 days is bound to be a bit stubbie short of a six pack.

Now regarding my thoughts on Dario Argento's DRACULA 3D. But it is colorful and tacky and eccentric. I'll just say it wasn’t savvy enough to earn the right to be intentionally bad. But hey, I was in lock down day 91 and was a bit bat crazy myself. I did love it when the praying mantis showed up!




Dracula 3D

** October 4, 2013 Review by Peter Sobczynski / www.rogerebert.com

Thanks to such gorgeously gruesome cult favorites as "Deep Red," "Suspiria," "Inferno" and "The Stendhal Syndrome," Italian director Dario Argento has long staked out a position as one of the all-time great horror filmmakers, but even his most ardent followers would have to admit that his recent output has been a bit on the shaky side. "Mother of Tears," the long-awaited conclusion to his so-called "Three Mothers" trilogy divided his fanbase down the middle. Reaction to lame potboilers like "The Card Player" and "Giallo" ran the gamut from mild confusion to outright hostility. Argento's latest film, "Dracula 3D," is at least a bit of an improvement over the embarrassment of "Giallo", but no matter how promising the idea of him tackling Bram Stoker's classic might sound in theory, the result cannot be regarded as anything but a disappointment.

Argento and his three cowriters have stuck to the basic parameters of Stoker's tale while making a few changes along the way. This time around, the story opens with straightlaced Jonathan Harker (Unex Ugalde) arriving in a remote village to go to work as a librarian for mysterious town benefactor Count Dracula (Thomas Kretschmann) and quickly becoming the prisoner/walking feedbag for both the count and his "niece"—the newly vampirized town tart Tania (Miriam Giovanelli, supplying most of the film's nudity). Before long, Jonathan's beloved wife Mina (Marta Gastini) arrives in town to stay with her best friend Lucy (Asia Argento, supplying the rest of the nudity) to await her husband's return.

As it turns out, Dracula has had a long-standing agreement with the townspeople in which he helps the village prosper in exchange for unlimited snacking privileges, a deal that the locals are finally beginning to realize may not have been such a smart bargain after all. Meanwhile, Lucy, who has secretly been in the count's thrall, has been transformed into a vampire herself and Dracula now finds himself romantically obsessed with Mina herself. Just at the point when all seems lost, venerable doctor-turned-vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer) arrives in the hopes of saving the day and defeating his old nemesis once and for all using his faith, his cunning and a fresh batch of garlic-infused silver bullets.

"Dracula" is a story that has been told so many times on film over the years that anyone daring to do it again needs to bring something new to the party—a fresh take to the narrative or a striking visual approach—if it is to have any hope of standing out from the rest. This is what filmmakers as diverse as Werner Herzog, Francis Ford Coppola and Guy Maddin did with their respective versions ("Nosferatu," "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "Dracula: Pages From A Virgin's Diary") and the results were among the finest vampire-related movies of our time.

Although the advance trailer for this film promised a wild riff on a familiar tale, "Dracula 3D" proves depressingly staid. As he did with his adaptation of "Phantom of the Opera," Argento offers up a version that plays like a choppy condensation based on hazy memories of the book, then augments it with nudity and gore. However, and also as was the case with "Phantom of the Opera," he seems to be largely going through the motions without ever offering any suggestion as to why he would want to yoke himself to such a familiar property in the first place.

At least with "Phantom of the Opera," the excuse could be made that since he had already done hi own unique riff on that story a decade earlier with his masterful "Opera," he had already used up his ideas. From a technical standpoint, there are some impressive contributions from two longtime collaborators, cinematographer Luciano Tovolli and composer Claudio Simonetti, and the retro production design is equally striking. However, Argento wastes their considerable efforts on a story that he never seems especially interested in telling in the first place.

He introduces one intriguing idea—the notion of the village being in cahoots with Dracula in exchange for prosperity—but then does nothing with it other than use it as an excuse to throw a couple of gory axe murders into the mix. There are also flashes of his flair for staging violence and his weirdo sense of humor (such as a jaw-dropping moment in which Dracula assumes the form of a giant praying mantis that is either the high or low point of the proceedings) but they are little more than brief respites from the lethargy that are further undone by "Sharknado"-level CGI effects. And while I understand that endings have never been Argento's strong suit over the years, the denouement here is especially weak, though it does lead to one of the most unintentionally hilarious lines of dialogue to ever be heard in one of his films.

The performances in "Dracula 3D" fail to show much depth either—Kretchsmann is perhaps the least terrifying version of Dracula to come along since Leslie Nielsen, Gastini and Giovanelli are pretty blanks (though the latter will no doubt become a favorite of followers of Mr. Skin) and Ugalde seems to have based his performance on the one that Keanu Reeves almost gave in "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and fails to live up to those standards. Rutger Hauer and Asia Argento, on the other hand, make more vivid impressions, but since the former doesn't arrive until 70 minutes in and the latter is largely wasted in a secondary role, their efforts are largely in vain.

However, when the two do get to share the screen for a brief confrontation, things liven up so considerably that I found myself wondering why Argento didn't choose to properly exploit his daughter's alluringly feral persona by simply casting her as Dracula and going on from there. I am not saying that "Dracula 3D" would have been a complete success had he done this, but that would have been the kind of audacious move that the movie sorely needed. More importantly, the end result almost certainly would have had more bite than this one



** 1/2 Review by Marianna Cappi / www.mymovies.it
Monday 21 May 2012 


When Johnathan Harker finds work in the library of the castle of Count Dracula, his young bride Mina sets off to join him, and stops at the home of her friend Lucy. Here he discovers a country devastated by the barbaric killing of a girl, attacked by a wolf, and must postpone the meeting with her husband because Lucy falls ill with an unexplained fever and dies. After meeting the count and being seduced by her extraordinary power of persuasion, Mina is increasingly suspicious of the strange occurrences of the place and relies on the only person who seems to know what to do: Abraham Van Helsing, vampire expert

For him and his family, over the centuries, books have always been the most important thing: this is what Argento has Dracula say, at his first meeting with Johnathan, and this is the bridge he launches with Bram Stoker's book , at the same time betraying him (in the original Mr. Harker is an agent in charge of a real estate transaction) and yet recovering the characters and part of the plot. Choosing to eliminate the many journeys of the literary protagonists to concentrate on a single place, the director draws a small and successful universe of reference, between the fairytale (the wood) and the western (the mayor's house, the tavern), on which he dominates , geographically and not only, the Gothic represented by the castle.

Although the acting contributions are very unequal and some effects are not well resolved, the film as a whole is held together, alternating prose, classic, synthetic, not excessively affected sequences, with violent and grand guignolesque sequences. There is also an episode to say the least imaginative involving a phosphorescent mantis.

The biggest flaw is the didacticism of the dialogues which, with the alibi of the original text as a reference, beautifully ignore the universal knowledge of the theme and, where they are not of pure service, they propose a sort of subsidiary of vampirism out of time. Yet the atmosphere is there, there are colors and faces: Rutger Hauer for Van Helsing, Marta Gastini for Mina, perhaps the weakest is Dracula, aka Thomas Kretschmann. 3D technology is reinforcing, it does not make the difference, but paradoxically the patina of craftsmanship increases and therefore it is welcome.

 In other words, bright silver, even if it doesn't shine.


Poor Count ... and we poor

** 1/2 Review by Kanc52 / www.mymovies.it
Saturday 1 December 2012 

For me it was an obligation, two myths in one shot: Dario Argento and Dracula. There is only one left, it is easy to prophecy to hope forever. I now believe I am in good company if I say that our Silver will hardly stop us from disappointing, we old fans of the Italian thrill-seeker along with the great Bava and Pupi Avati of Zeder and La casa delle finestre che la laughing, we must resign ourselves: we have it just lost as a director of "de paura" films. He cannot relieve the use of ultra-modern 3D, a completely negative opinion of this Count Dracula exaggerated in the gradguignolesco that at times almost expires in the splatter of animation in scenes of pseudo-western and drowns in a romanticism without strong romantic impulses. The material is certainly delicate.

The literary theme is the one that in the cinema has suffered the greatest sacking (we are now over 250 films), so the terms of comparison are not lacking. Only in chronological order: the unreachable Nosferatu by Murnau (1922), Dracula by T. Browning (1931) Vampyr by Dreyer (1932) in a blinding claustrophobic chromatic contrast the vampire is a woman and the literary inspiration is Carmilla di Le Fanu ; Dracula the vampire (1958), the first of the Hammer saga with the great couple Christopher Lee-Dracula and Peter Cushing-Van Helsing. In more recent times Herzog with his Nosferatu (1979), pays a great tribute to German Expressionism with Klaus Kinski emulating the Count Orlok of Murnau, the last master Coppola with Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), which historicizes and emphasizes the figure of prince of darkness. To say of directors with whom in my opinion, facing the Dracula theme in the cinema it is impossible not to come to terms.

Dario Argento would seem to be inspired by the productions of Hammer, those where the blood is and can be seen, but the context is not the same. Today, too many are the severed heads, the severed limbs and the spurts of red liquid that comes out from many parts, so the sense of the pathetic is imperiously afloat. Silver should know it and therefore it bores us more than frightening us, it almost makes us laugh with those scenes that bring back to mind the fights in the old saloons of the far west.

The mystery of the vampire is not in the blood, but in its being the undead that cannot live in the light of the sun, which it cannot love if it does not bring death to the beloved, who carries the condemnation to eternal life. Dracula is the sum of philosophical contradictions: good and evil, love and repulsion, good and bad, right and wrong, life and death. The exploration of these antinomies has long been the preoccupation of man, especially in art and therefore the cinema could not hold back; I think this is the reason why Bram Stoker's novel has been, in a hundred years of visions, an inspiring subject like no other. If the contradictions lead to many questions and a wide range of opinions and theses, it is always good not to overdo and above all fall into acrobatic directorial digressions. Dracula can be fog and wolf, wind and bat, but certainly not become a ridiculous green mantis.

The level of dialogue and acting is very low; the actors in too many moments appear to be at the service of modern technology, with distraught and ultimately unrealistic mannerist poses and appearances.


Dario Argento’s Dracula

Director Argento half-heartedly mixes schlocky 3D f/x with one-dimensional characters for a near-two-hour joke that ought to have been funnier.

By Rob Nelson / https://variety.com

With: Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, Asia Argento, Unax Ugalde, Rutger Hauer, Miriam Giovanelli, Giuseppe Lo Console, Franco Ravera, Giovanni Franzoni, Christian Burruano. (English dialogue)

A blatant farce from its first scene of a naked tryst turned bloody to its end-credits disco ditty “Kiss Me Dracula,” “ Argento’s ” takes a playful nibble out of Bram ’s undead source material but fails to move in for the kill. Director Argento half-heartedly mixes schlocky 3D f/x with one-dimensional characters for a near-two-hour joke that ought to have been funnier. Sex and gore abound, but German thesp Thomas Kretschmann’s count seems neither seductive nor scary, while the potential to stake out camp from Rutger Hauer’s vampire-hunting Van Helsing remains untapped. Only Euro distribs appear bound to bite.

Even with its goofy, bad-is-good approach, channeling the spirits of many a poorly dubbed and laughably exploitative Euro-horror cash-grab, “3D Dracula” represents a more or less classical take on Stoker, with basic adherence to the tale of a small-town Transylvania bloodsucker seeking a replacement for his dear-departed soulmate. Stoker’s story is exceedingly simple, but somehow Argento manages to deliver a choppy pic, its utter lack of fluidity being among the film’s few elements that can’t remotely be read as tongue-in-cheek.

Enjoyably stilted dialogue helps those unfamiliar with preceding “Dracula” pics to grasp that handsome Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) has been summoned by the count to serve as his librarian along with Harker’s wife, Mina (Marta Gastini), who’s late to arrive in a town that Drac and his vampire minions have been sucking dry. A pain in the neck, administered by buxom, blank-eyed Tania (a wonderfully vapid Miriam Giovanelli), leaves Harker looking like he’s got one hell of a bad hangover. In comes sweet-faced Mina, whose best friend, Lucy (Asia Argento), gets jiggy with the prince of darkness and starts feeling woozy, too.

Deploying his supernatural powers of persuasion, the count bids to seduce Mina, whose only hope of staying among the living is Van Helsing, played by Hauer as tired-looking and little else. Kretschmann’s Dracula appears largely anemic, although the character is quite well-played on the CG side, as the count takes the form of a swarm of insects or, in a hilariously awful scene, a gigantic praying mantis.

Tech credits are a mixed bag, with Argento’s deep-red mise-en-scene remaining trademarked while whites look blown out in the manner of lo-fi video. Not all the CG works, although a nifty recurring effect has undead bodies turning to ash when they’re stabbed or shot in the heart. Mostly convincing, the 3D doesn’t strain for undue depth except in a few instances, as when, apropos of nada, a buzzing fly moves well beyond the screen, ostensibly to remind viewers that “Dario Argento’s Dracula” is indeed a comedy.


Production: A Les Films de L'Astre (in France) release of a Multimedia Film, Enrique Cerezo P.C. production, in association with L'Astre. (International sales: FilmExport Group, Rome.) Produced by Roberto Di Girolamo, Gianni Paolucci, Cerezo. Directed by Dario Argento. Screenplay, Argento, Enrique Cerezo, Stefano Piani, Antonio Tentori, from the novel by Bram Stoker.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, HD, 3D), Luciano Tovoli; editors, Daniele Campelli, Marshall Harvey; music, Claudio Simonetti; production designer, Antonello Geleng; costume designer, Monica Celeste; sound (Dolby Digital), Antonio Rodriguez Ramirez; visual effects supervisors, Raffaele Apuzzo, John Attard; visual effects, Rebel Alliance, Film Maker, Video Masterwork; special effects makeup, Sergio Stivaletti; associate producers, Sergio Gobbi, Elisabeth Bouquet. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Midnight Screenings), May 19, 2012. Running time: 110 MIN.

Cast: With: Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, Asia Argento, Unax Ugalde, Rutger Hauer, Miriam Giovanelli, Giuseppe Lo Console, Franco Ravera, Giovanni Franzoni, Christian Burruano. (English dialogue)


Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D: Cannes Review

5/20/2012 by David Rooney / www.hollywoodreporter.com

Thomas Kretschmann, Asia Argento and Rutger Hauer hit Transylvania in Italian horror veteran Dario Argento's take on the Bram Stoker classic.

CANNES – You’ve got to love Italy. The first of many unintentional laughs in Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D comes on the opening credits of this seriously intended but risible gothic trash, when a tag that indicates partial government funding identifies it as a “film of national cultural interest.” Really?

Vampire entertainments have taken countless divergent paths in recent years, from the toothsome Louisiana luridness of HBO’s True Blood to the haunting sensitivity of Let the Right One In to the swooning teen passions of the Twilight series. So perhaps it makes sense to go back to the granddaddy of them all, with a fresh take on the Bram Stoker model, shot in stereoscopic 3D and making use of new-generation digital effects developed since Francis Ford Coppola revisited the classic with his sumptuous 1992 version. But if anyone really thought the right person for that job might be Dario Argento, a director stuck in stylistic gridlock for well over a decade now, they were drunk on V. The only explanation for this dismally kitsch spectacle’s official slot in Cannes is that Argento evidently has acquired sufficient auteur status to become part of the title.

This is a tired rehash that adds little to the canon aside from such outré touches as having Drac shapeshift into a swarm of flies or a giant grasshopper in one howler of a scene. The film sits awkwardly between the 1958 Hammer Horror version with Christopher Lee and the campy 1974 Andy Warhol-Paul Morrissey Blood for Dracula. Sadly, there’s nothing even remotely as fun here as Udo Kier sinking his fangs into the scenery and the “wirgins.”

Instead, there’s Thomas Kretschmann, looking sleepy and embarrassed as the undead Count Dracula, who only seems engaged when he’s mutilating a bunch of troublesome village officials. (Neither gore nor sexual titillation is in short supply.) “I am nothing but an out-of-tune chord in the divine symphony,” he groans in one of the rare attempts to breathe some grandiose dimension into the character in the lumbering script by Argento and three other hands.

German actor Kretschmann heads an old-school Europudding cast – an orgy of different acting styles, poorly post-synched into stiff English. While she’s been used effectively in small roles such as in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, the director’s daughter Asia Argento has always been less of an actress than a fetish object. As Lucy, she’s at her most self-conscious, pouting and disrobing on cue before being reborn as a vamp and then char-grilled in a craptastic CGI fire.

As Lucy’s friends Jonathan and Mina Harker, lured to Transylvania so dead-ringer Mina can take the place of the Count’s mourned wife, Unax Ugalde and Marta Gastini are pure wood. Rutger Hauer’s Van Helsing crushes garlic cloves and sharpens wooden stakes with the concentration of someone who just wants to grab the check and get out of there. There’s fierce competition among Dracula’s minions for bad-acting honors. But Miriam Giovanelli, who appears to be channeling ‘70s soft-core porn as frisky Tania, and Giovanni Franzoni as fawning Renfield share the runner-up prize behind Franco Ravera as the town priest. (“He is evil! EEEVILLLLL!!!”)

The soundtrack is a thick soup of creatures-of-the-night ruckus and Claudio Simonetti’s hilariously cheesy vintage horror score, while visually, the film is predictably over-saturated with the standard palette of deep reds and blacks. So-so digital effects mix with low-tech makeup work from veteran Argento collaborator Sergio Stivaletti. Beyond the occasional swooping owl, leaping wolf, severed head or bloody impalement, the 3D serves mainly to make the whole sad, cadaverous enterprise more ludicrous.

Venue: Cannes Film Festival (Midnight)
Production companies: Multimedia Films Production, Enrique Cerezo, Les Films de l’Astre
Cast: Thomas Kretschmann, Asia Argento, Marta Gastini, Rutger Hauer, Unax Ugalde, Miriam Giovanelli, Mariacristina Heller, Giovanni Franzoni, Augusto Zucchi, Francesco Rossini, Giuseppe Lo Console, Christian Burruano, Franco Ravera, Riccardo Cicogna
Director: Dario Argento
Screenwriters: Dario Argento, Antonio Tentori, Stefano Piani, Enrique Cerezo
Producers: Roberto Di Girolamo, Gianni Paolucci, Enrique Cerezo
Director of photography: Luciano Tovoli
Production designer: Claudio Cosentino
Music: Claudio Simonetti
Costume designer: Monica Celeste
Editors: Marshall Harvey, Daniele Campelli
Sales: FilmExport Group
No rating, 109 minutes 


Critics 14% | Audience14%


He’s Back for More Blood

Argento's Dracula 3D | Directed by Dario Argento | Horror, Romance, Thriller

By Neil Genzlinger | Oct. 3, 2013 | www.nytimes.com

Rutger Hauer in "Argento’s Dracula 3D. | CreditMaria Aurora Yvette Dimao/IFC Midnight

When insects are the best thing in your movie, it’s probably time to retire.

The Italian director Dario Argento, who in his prime was sometimes compared to Hitchcock, serves up a perplexing mess in “Argento’s Dracula 3D,” a retelling of the Dracula story that isn’t savvy enough to earn the right to be intentionally bad. The tale is indecipherably told, with clunky dialogue and clunkier effects. Occasionally, something comes along — most memorably, a giant praying mantis — that makes you think that the whole thing is supposed to be a joke, but you haven’t been laughing. And the world didn’t really need another parody of bad horror movies, anyway.

Thomas Kretschmann is the least scary, least sexy Dracula ever, and why people keep baring necks and other body parts to him is a mystery. Rutger Hauer turns up as Van Helsing, but for most of his screen time seems as if he were looking for an exit that would let him escape from this movie. There is a moderately amusing bit involving an infestation of flies, and the brief appearance of that mantis at least wakes you up. But it, unlike Mr. Hauer, finds the exit and disappears in an eye blink. Smart mantis.



Argento's Dracula

**** Jul 14, 2015 | by Rob Gonsalves | Rob Gonsalves eFilmCritic.com

Most of the people shaking their heads sadly over Dario Argento's "Dracula" don't seem to know what he's up to.

Anyone who's seen Euro-horror of the '60s and '70s, particularly by Jean Rollin or Jes's Franco, or Blood for Dracula or Flesh for Frankenstein or even some of the classic Hammer films, will go into this affectionate homage with a receptive state of mind. Argento's Dracula does reflect some of the foibles of the above movies ' it has its cheesy parts, its dull stretches, its incomprehensible moments. But then that's Argento, too. The world-renowned maestro of such works as Suspiria and Profondo Rosso pretty much always left logic bleeding in the dust. He cares more about mood, music, the crescendo of violence, the rich sanguinary history of art. He's going to make Dracula and amuse himself doing it and he doesn't give a damn whether you think it's the 2013 definition of cool.

Shot whenever possible in and around crumbling Italian castles and villages, Dracula has a distinct European whiff that can't be faked or built, especially not on the $7 million budget Argento had. The relatively tiny piggy bank also shows in the never-convincing computer effects ' Dracula (Thomas Kretschmann) turns into a wolf, an owl, a swarm of flies, and, in the movie's height of nuttiness, a man-sized praying mantis. But no gritty verisimilitude is established here in the first place ' it's not as though any sane viewer is going to say 'Man, I was totally convinced by this movie's stark realism until the praying mantis showed up' ' and if sketchy special effects send you packing, you're going to miss out on half a thousand fun films from every era of horror cinema. The effects here (partially handled by longtime Argento collaborator Sergio Stivaletti, joining an old-school crew including cinematographer Luciano Tovoli and composer Claudio Simonetti) are pretty obviously consciously, winkingly artificial.

Argento and his three co-screenwriters more or less glance at Bram Stoker's novel, toss it aside and make shit up. Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) is now a librarian, summoned to catalog the tomes lining the walls of Castle Dracula. Lucy Westenra is now Lucy Kisslinger (Asia Argento), the mayor's daughter and best friend of Harker's beloved, Mina (Marta Gastini). There's also Tania (Miriam Giovanelli), a fair-haired local maiden who becomes a bride of Dracula and gets her kit off whenever feasible; Renfield (Giovanni Franzoni) is now in blood thrall to Tania. Since this Renfield is too weird to do Dracula's bidding effectively, Dracula also has a bald, beefy bruiser named Zoran (Giuseppe Lo Console), who resembles Pawn Stars' Rick Harrison and lumbers around ax-murdering those who threaten to expose the Master.

And then Dr. Van Helsing shows up; this character has traditionally been an occasion for juicy overacting from the likes of Laurence Olivier and Anthony Hopkins, so perverse Argento has Rutger Hauer play Van Helsing as if awakened from a deep nap before each take. Hauer's compelling anyway, though, making bullets out of garlic and silver, or dispatching an enemy with laughable abruptness (the victim's eye pops out in gnarly 3D, for those lucky enough to see Dracula in the format). I can't really judge most of the acting, which has that charming dubbed quality familiar from many afternoons wasted in front of tax-shelter horror. I can say that Thomas Kretschmann (currently playing Van Helsing, ironically, on NBC's Dracula) brings a certain old-world delicacy to his seduction scenes and a persuasive brutality to his violent scenes, and that Asia Argento seems finally fulfilled as a hissing vampire with her head on fire.

I'd say you need to have seen enough clunky horror movies to enjoy Argento's goofing around here. It's Dracula; he's going to take it deadly seriously? (That's the pitfall of the NBC series so far, methinks.) It's colorful and tacky and eccentric, with elements smuggled in from Stoker's 'Dracula's Guest.' And there's the damn praying mantis, which I think is the firm dividing line here. If you can't cackle and appreciate that, this Dracula does not have your name written all over it. I just sat back and said 'Why the hell not.' And that's not only a useful approach to Argento's party, it's possibly also the film's artistic credo. A seemingly pointless shot of Dracula pacing around his castle and growling, looking like an outtake of the actor trying to get into character? Why the hell not. A long-distance shot of a tiny Dracula scaling the wall of his castle and hissing at the camera? Why the hell not.

Argento hasn't been this playful in years, and neither has "Dracula."