Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest (2008, Michael Feifer)


An occasional series where I watch and review works inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…

These reviews reveal plot twists.

Setting? The Victorian era. In London, the English countryside, Transylvania, France and ‘Eastern Europe’.

Faithful to the novel? Dracula’s Guest is a short story by Bram Stoker, published by his widow in 1914. It seems to have been the original opening chapter of his novel Dracula, but was cut by the publisher because the book was too long. Its unnamed protagonist (assumed to be Jonathan Harker) travels across Europe and has a worrying encounter with some kind of werewolf… This film is a very, very, very loose adaptation, which makes the incalculably illogical decision to name the lead character… Bram Stoker. Like Harker, he’s a London lawyer; but like the real-life Stoker, he’s Irish. A mysterious foreigner called Count Dracula (who has no problem sitting in sunlight) employs the fictional Bram to help purchase a house on Regent Street. Meanwhile, Bram is courting a young woman called Elizabeth Murray, whose father is unhappy with their relationship. Sick of her dad’s interference, Elizabeth runs away and bumps into Dracula at the train station – he kidnaps her, takes her back to Transylvania with him, and rapes her (bye-bye, subtext!). When Bram hears what’s happened, he travels to Castle Dracula to rescue her – on the way, he has several spooky encounters, including a nighttime meeting with a quartet of Brides. Bram finally confronts Dracula, but can’t defeat him. Luckily, Elizabeth’s dad then shows up and – because he’s apparently a vampire hunter! – easily kills the count.

Best performance: She can’t act, but at least Kelsey McCann (Elizabeth) is pretty.

Best moment: As part of its start-up sequence, the DVD played a trailer for a low-budget zombie/Western movie called Undead or Alive. It had bags more wit, energy and fun than the film I then watched.

Review: Fuck a duck. This is genuinely one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. A pathetic, boring, bland, badly thought-out, badly paced script of clichés has been given to a uniformly dreadful cast who trot out some atrocious English and Irish accents. (Helpfully, a bad sound mix means you sometimes struggle to hear them. It seems the film’s budget didn’t stretch to ADR.) Even more annoyingly, it’s all so awfully directed. The washed-out cinematography is irritating enough, but the laughably inept framing and sloppy editing mean every scene trundles along with no momentum or style or drama.

One fencing duel out of 10