Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 12th, 2004
Jonathan Harker, his fiancee Mina and their friends are partying it up in Budapest when anone Vlad Tepes makes them an offer they can’t refuse. Lured by the dollar signs, Harker hieshimself off to Rumania to the castle of Count Tepes. The Count, of course, is exactly who youthink he is, and soon he and an Italian version of Dr. Van Helsing are locked in a familiarbattle.
In its broad lines, the film is actually quite faithful to Stoker’s novel. The characters’nati…nalities have been changed, locations are different, and the clock has been reset to thepresent day (with Harker driving to Romania in a sports car), but Stoker would have had nodifficulty in recognizing his book. So far, so interesting. Unfortunately, the script is indescribablybanal, weighed down with dialogue so painful that suicide seems a viable escape option, andtaking far too long to get to where we know it’s going to go.
There are both 5.1 and 2.0 versions of the sound here. The music has a good big sound, andthe sound effects (notably thunder) are very impressive when they are present. This caveat is animportant one, however. There are long stretches with no surround effect whatever, and this isdue to the Italian film industry practice of not using direct sound. Since everything is post-synched, there are two major consequences: 1) unless a great deal of care is taken (and thatdoesn’t seem to have been the case here), much of the background action in the film iscompletely silent; 2) that the voices are dubbed is painfully obvious, even though the actors’ lipmovements match their dialogue. The result of the latter case is a curiously flat sound to thedialogue, which is also too loud and detached from the rest of the sound.
Though the audio has its weaknesses, it is nowhere near as awful as the picture. Thefullscreen image is dreadfully soft, with any face not in close-up blurring almost featureless.There is the occasional pulse in and out of focus. The colours and blacks are great, but thesoftness makes the picture really hard to watch.
There are four deleted scenes, a photo gallery, and a passel of trailers (including the newPunisher). The menu is basic.
Interesting idea, earnest effort, clumsy execution. Bad picture quality too.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- Photo Gallery