Wednesday, 23 September 2015

#45 Die Hard Dracula (Wes)

Die Hard Dracula
Sometimes when I look at what our next film will be I like to guess what it’ll involve. Sometimes I’m right, but only when the title is really obvious (and even then I would be sometimes wrong if I hadn’t seen Troll 2 (see here) before). Most of the time my predictions of what the movie will entail are completely off though. So when I saw that our next movie was called Die Hard Dracula and I had visions of Christopher Lee in a vest, biting terrorists who were trying to rob a skyscraper I bet you can guess which way my predictions fell…
After Steven’s (Denny Sachen) girlfriend Julia (Kerry Dustin) dies in a waterskiing accident, he decides to travel to Europe to get over her death. Whilst travelling from Prague to Moravia his car breaks down and he finds himself in the small town of Dubova where Julia’s double Carla lives (who was brought back to life after drowning by Steven's wish or something. Oh and is also played by Kerry Dustin). Dubova is also home to Dracula (Ernest M. Garcia, Chaba Hrotko and Tom McGowan), and the locals call in vampire hunter Van Helsing (Bruce Glover) when a local woman goes missing. Once Van Helsing confirms that Dracula really is a vampire (by using garlic bread. Peter Kay would be proud!), Steven and Van Helsing team up to defeat Dracula who seems incredibly hard to kill, They try everything they can think of from the traditional ways to kill the undead, silver bullets, crosses etc to more modern methods like grenades. Perhaps if they just called Buffy, The Frog Brothers or even The Monster Squad they’d have gotten the job done much faster and this Dracula wouldn’t bite quite so much…

Well I never thought I’d watch a vampire movie that made me want to watch Twilight instead, and I’m happy to report that that’s still the case. But only just. Die Hard Dracula is an awful movie, and not in a good way. The director and writer, Peter Horak, was attempting to make a horror comedy, and to be fair he succeeded completely. However he managed to make a film where the horror is laughable and the comedy is horrific, so he perhaps didn’t quite succeed in everything he set out to do.
You can tell how bad the horror aspect of this film will be just by watching the first thirty seconds. Starting with a voice over of how Vlad the Impaler punished his enemies by impaling them on spikes. This is accompanied by images of people sitting on wooden poles, with some of them even shifting to get more comfortable during filming. You half expect them to start sing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life it looks so unconvincing.

Similarly you can tell exactly how bad the comedy in this movie is going to be in just over three minutes, when Dracula’s coffin floats from a crypt, while Dracula himself says in a voice over how fed up of all the praying he is (after 300 years – you’d have think he may have acted sooner. I just wish everyone was so patient. I only have to play my Slayer records at full volume at 1am and my neighbours are complaining straight away!). The coffin then proceeds to fly into the country to his castle as Wagner’s Ride of the Valkryies plays. To make it worse the computer graphics used to make the coffin fly, look as though they were last used for the 80s kids tv show Knightmare.
Dracula in this movie is less scary than Count Chocula. It doesn’t help that for some reason they decided to hire three actors to play him, one of which I think was used to dub over his voice. Unfortunately whoever did this has less of a talent for accents than Sean Connery. If you’ve ever wanted to hear Tommy Wiseau from The Room (see here) sound like he’s about to ask where the “nuclear wessels” are, then this is the movie for you. I often wondered whatever happened to Officer Crabtree from Allo Allo after the war, but I now suspect he may have gone into voice acting… (if  for some reason Arthur Bostrum ever reads this… I’m sorry. I know it wasn’t really you!)

The people who played the roles of the characters in this movie (it really would be a stretch to refer to them as actors) really are the most amateurish bunch since Troll 2 and its interesting hiring policies. A few of them have managed to make an acting career of sorts, most notably Bruce Glover (who was in a Bond film! I think he may have played the hatstand in Miss Moneypenny's office once or something), but on the evidence of this film how they’ve done it is a mystery that would take a combination of Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, The Scooby Gang and Mike Tyson to even begin to solve.
What really didn’t help this movie is that they have a reverse Eddie Murphy philosophy when it comes down to portraying Dracula. Whilst they may not have had the budget of Norbit (see here) or more relevantly Bram Stoker’s Dracula (with Gary Oldman playing both young and old Dracula), I’m sure they could have found a make-up artist who could make up one actor to portray Dracula in his various states rather than have three separate actors make a hash of it.

Although released in 1998, this movie looks cheaper than an average Roger Corman movie (the difference being that Corman knew how to make great movies with a low budget). It’s so low budget that at one point in a dungeon scene they even used a plastic rat on a piece of string rather than a real rat! 1998 was the year that DVDs were launched in Europe (and also the year Neflix began its operations in the US, and it seems like the last year it bought any films for the UK version), so you’d think that just maybe producers would be looking to the future and trying to make their movies look sharper and more professional. The makers of Die Hard Dracula unfortunately still seemed to be banking on Betamax to make a miracle last second comeback though and decided that making a movie that looked as though it was an episode of the Australian Neighbours from the 80s was the way forward.
I was partially right about my predictions for this movie, putting this film into your DVD player is basically the movie equivalent of a bunch of terrorists hijacking a building on Christmas Eve. Only in the real world you rarely have Bruce Willis to save the day and come out with snappy one-liners whilst doing it. So be warned! Should you come across this movie, then it should be staked through the heart, have it's head removed and be buried face down under a crossroads at midnight. It’s the only sensible way to try to make sure it stays dead and buried forever, which is where it belongs.