Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1992. American Zoetrope, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Osiris Films. Screenplay by James V. Hart, based on the novel by Bram Stoker. Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Fuchs, Charles Mulvehill. Music by Wojciech Kilar. Production Design by Thomas E. Sanders. Costume Design by Eiko Ishioka. Film Editing by Anne Goursaud, Glen Scantlebury, Nicholas C. Smith.
Exciting, inventive retelling of the vampire legend is marred only by a couple of amateurish performances. Francis Ford Coppola uses ground-level visual effects in the style of Georges Melies and Jean Cocteau (particularly from Beauty And The Beast) in filming a romanticized version of the Bram Stoker novel. That no-account Count Dracula moves to Victorian London when his lost lady love of centuries past is reincarnated as a young English schoolteacher (Winona Ryder, one of the weak portrayals noted above). Her fiance (Keanu Reeves, the other one) is the real estate agent who goes to castle Dracula to organize the Count’s affairs and ends up trapped in the fortress with three vampire brides (look closely and you’ll recognize a young Monica Bellucci) who feed on him for weeks. The highlights of this enjoyable film include stunning production design, sumptuous Oscar-winning costumes by Japanese artist Eiko Ishioka and a thrilling lead performance by Gary Oldman as the title character. Anthony Hopkins is vivacious as the vampire-hunting Professor Van Helsing, and Sadie Frost gives a terrific, scene-stealing turn as the sexy Lucy Westenra that she unfortunately (for us) didn’t turn into a full-throttle big screen career (even after Premiere magazine readers voted her the year’s best Newcomer).
Academy Awards: Best Makeup; Best Costume Design; Best Sound Effects Editing
Nomination: Best Art Direction