Category: Movie Reviews
Written by Steve Pattee
Published on Thursday, 23 July 2009 22:08
Dracula’s Curse (aka Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse) DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD Released by The Asylum
Mr. Tattinger, vampires are my business. – Rufus King
Written and directed by Leigh Scott
2006, Region 1 (NTSC), 107 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on April 25, 2006
Tom Downey as Rufus King
Eliza Swenson as Gracie Johannsen
Rhett Giles as Jacob Van Helsing
Jeff Denton as Rafe
Christina Rosenberg as Countess Bathorly
Rufus King (Thomas Downey – Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove) and Jacob Van Helsing (Rhett Giles – Frankenstein Reborn) are the leaders of a group of vampire hunters.
They are good at what they do. So good, the vampire leaders propose a truce: The vampires will stop hunting humans if the hunters stop killing vampires.
Much to the dismay of the soldiers, King and Van Helsing accept the truce.
Five years later, humans are being killed again. Rumor has it the killings are the work of Countess Bathorly—a powerful vampire, thought to be long dead.
Now King and Van Helsing must rally the troops once again to take down the biggest evil they’ve ever faced. In addition, the two must use every available resource, be it friend or foe, to find out who’s killing the people.
Now this is what I’m talking about.
After a string of low-budget versions of big-budget films, this is the Asylum film I’ve been waiting for.
In Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse, The Asylum’s most ambitious film to date, the big guns are brought out — both figuratively and literally.
Clocking in at just under two hours, Curse is a little bit country — action, suspense and romance — and a little bit rock ’n’ roll — gunfights, swordfights, fistfights and cat-fights. Hell, there’s even a brief wire-fu move in the mix.
Curse’s story is a welcome change from The Asylum’s movies of late. Their past few releases have basically been their version of blockbuster movies. For the most part, they were enjoyable, sure, but it’s nice to see something different, something original, from a studio I know is capable of more than what they have been putting out.
But as good as Curse’s story is, as cool as some of the scenes are shot and as well as everything comes together, the acting side hurts it a little. Just a little. Rhett Giles, as usual in The Asylum movies he stars in, is the standout. This cat is one step away from a bigger playing field, and why he isn’t there yet is beyond me.
Downey, as the mysterious Rufus, is a blast, also as usual. While he comes across a bit hammy in some parts, it doesn’t matter, because he has an energy that comes off the screen, and you can’t help but have a good time with him. In addition, there are some scenes he completely nails, and it makes up for everything else.
Last seen in King of the Lost World, Christina Rosenberg is great as Countess Bathorly. It’s too bad she didn’t play a bigger role in the film, because not only is she cute as hell, she is one of the strongest of the cast and deserved more screen time.
Fortunately for the film, these three managed to lessen the blow of some of the surprisingly wooden acting from other Asylum regulars. Rebekah Kochan, whom Sham was impressed with in When a Killer Calls, was not convincing here. One scene, in which she shrieked with rage, made me cringe. I just didn’t buy her as angry Trixie McFly, her character.
But Kochan wasn’t the only one below par here. Both Jeff Denton, as the vampire Rafe, and Tom Nagel, as the newly single Rick Tattinger, seemed to be underperforming as well.
Standing right in the middle of the acting is Eliza Swenson as Gracie Johannesen. Swenson is solid when she is required to either be a bad ass or kick ass, but she’s not so solid in the more dramatic scenes. That’s not to say with experience she won’t be more believable, but she’s not at that point yet.
Scott himself delivers a fine performance as the Old One; Griff Furst as stoner vampire Konstantinos holds his own; and Sarah Hall, who plays Sadie Macpherson, has a kick-ass scene involving a gun and a monologue.
To his credit, Scott put the stronger actors in front to carry the load, and the weaker actors in the background to gain some experience. And once he did that, he made the best movie The Asylum has to offer.
Video and Audio:
It seems The Asylum has taken a step back with its picture quality. For a time, the things that haunted the studio the most seemed to be going away. But in Curse, they seem to have come back in full force. The 16:9 presentation has compression issues, and most of the darks are more muddy than black.
Surprisingly, where The Asylum has normally shined the most, it come up a little short. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack isn’t as full as I’m used to from them.
The voices are always clear, and there are no distortions, but it seems the mix just wasn’t there.
The cast and crew commentary offers some interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits, while keeping the conversation light and, at times, funny. But, once again, I found myself reaching for the remote because of too many people and not enough mics. While I love commentaries from The Asylum, I don’t know how many more I can listen to, because I know I always miss something when they have a room full of people.
The behind-the-scenes featurette is amusing. The Asylum always delivers on these.
The blooper reel is worth a watch, especially for the bit on Derek Osedach, improv master. It’s pretty amusing.
There’s a music video for The Divine Madness’ “Closer” and trailers for Hillside Cannibals, When a Killer Calls, Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers, Dead Men Walking and Dracula's Curse. Fans of Lacuna Coil will probably dig “Closer,” as I did.
Scott has crafted something slick in Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse. It is a perfect starting point for those wanting to delve into the low-budget world.
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