Four grad students in Roumania are sent by the Bucharist college dean (Brad Dourif) to investigate, what else, the legend of Vlad the Impaler aka Count Dracula at his actual castle. They have with them a mystical piece of jewelry stolen from the corpse of Vlad himself.
A secret society of Vlad worshippers wants to get their hands on this important relic, which resembles a 1970s hippy necklace more than it evokes the idea of 15th Century magic jewelry. It is an object of great power nevertheless, which can bring people forward in time, including inevitably Vlad himself.
Shot on location in the Carpathian mountains, it's surprising the film doesn't have a lot more interesting scenery, but the mediocre cinematography could have been done in any random park. There are a couple very nice interior sets, at least, more ornate & complete than could've been found back in Hollywood.
It has lots of talky bits obviously because talking heads are cheap to film, & sometimes gives the self-important impression of a history lesson, which just gets increasingly annoying since it gets all the history wrong while pretending to correct the mere myths of mere books & movies, as though this isn't just one more to add to a sorry heap.
Though I was prepared for Brad Dourif having only a token presence in the film, I predicted nevertheless I'd like whatever he did, as he's just about always cool to watch in a film.
Alas, not this time. Dourif's character seemed like an escapee professor from an amateur comic book, & if no one had ever seen him in anything else, they would not want to see him ever again based on this performance.
Billy Zane as the untrustworthy guide is adequate, -- he doesn't make the film worse anyway -- & looks good in the hat. But he's too soon gone from the film, & we're stuck with the cast of nobodies who populate the forefront of the film, & who suck so very much, not in the vampire way either.
The terrible casting of Vlad himself (Francesco Quinn whose only claim to fame is he's the son of an actual actor, Anthony Quinn) is worsened by CGI facial morphing borrowed from the Buffy-spin-off series Angel, but not one-tenth as well done as a mere tv show.
I must say it took me by surprise how bad this thing turned out to be. The advertising packet for this film boasted that the director is "an ex CIA agent" as if that has anything to do with squat. Maybe he should've made a film about zombies in the CIA.
Dracula: The Dark Prince (2001)
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl