DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Bram Stoker's Dracula's Guest - DVD Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}A literary and cinematic horror-rich character long sustaining on the plasmatic coagulate of tasty souls - Count Dracula - gets slapdash Type-B-movie treatment from guerrilla filmmaker, writer, director, and producer Michael Feifer (B.T.K., director, 2008). Results have one-stop-shopping Feifer doing his best to collect straight to DVD coin by conjuring author Bram Stoker's public domain-ed name.

Gothic horror connoisseurs are forewarned. In contemporary terms, this ain't Francis Ford Coppola's legendary vampire, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) — a film with steadfast Gary Oldman playing the Count, being received well by fans and critics alike and doing moderate box office. Fifteen years later Feifer stretches the financial limits of his anemically budgeted period piece. The director's â"creative" ambition is wildly incongruous with the material's interpretive atmospheric demands. Made for under $1 million, the movie has The Blair Witch Project's (1999) amateurish visual accoutrements. Blair's uneven home-video graininess served its utilitarian purpose because of the movie's high concept — a home video tape left behind by a group of young adults who all mysteriously disappeared. Feifer's film is more a case of low concept and lower production values tempered with (disheveled) racing to the marketplace speed, all better suited to the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am talkies of the early 1930s, a lá Bela Lugosi's Dracula (1931). Were an obscure sweat factory located in the darkest, dankest of isolated communist third world countries to churn out movies like its tennis shoes, this is what they would end up like — soulless.

Dracula's GuestSet in London, England, but (laughably) filmed south of London, California (pop. 1,848), Count Dracula (Andrew Bryniarski, Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, 2006) is looking for a deal on real estate — he wants a castle to call home. The shroud surrounding the monster's motives are quickly eschewed (the movie is a user friendly 86 minutes) when he makes the acquaintance of a love distraught Elizabeth (Kelsey McCann, Chicago Massacre: Richard Speck), who's been forbidden contact with her one true love, Bram (Wes Ramsey, TV's Charmed and The Guiding Light), by her thespian-challenged father (Dan Speaker). (Feifer combined three Stoker short stories into one tale and inserted the author himself as the hero).

When Elizabeth is kidnapped by the jet black fu manchu-ed ghoul, your're not sure if a Transylvanian WWE'er (Bryniarksi is 6'5", 350 lbs.) has crashed the proceedings Undertaker style and stormed off with the love interest — an altogether more interesting plot twist. The mannered professional wrestling worthy histrionics lead to a showdown between Elizabeth's fiancé and father against the pointy-toothed bloodsucker. Impregnating Elizabeth, the insomniac archfiend has "planted his seed" as a means to exact revenge against her father for a score unsettled.

If you can't squeeze blood from a turnip, cock of the walk Feifer is proof that mere mortals can passionately suck too — even with a measly $4500 Panasonic HD camera as the tormenting instrument. Setting up and knocking down bowling pin shots fast enough to make legendary first-taker Clint Eastwood's head spin, the director's work might be a suitable companion frame to community college Filmmaking 101; making use of no budget, no story, no talent. His service of affordable real world set pieces (Ex. Victorian homes, a mausoleum, natural caves) around southern California are a testament to his resourcefulness, if not his auteurness.

The frugal Feifer trudges blissfully forward with the use of one-day shooting locations, whilst the wind blows 50 miles an hour. He turns the camera on, gets the shot, and then moves on. No delays. The production values are so rawboned that a two-shot scene outside looks sun-drenched and pristine from one angle and shade-draped and grainy from another. In his heyday, seventies B movie drive-in purveyor and guru Roger Corman would have demanded re-shoots.

Production budget notwithstanding, what gives almost any celluloid endeavor its legs (Star Wars, 1977, a notable exception to the rule) are the performances — which doesn't necessitate large sums of money, though its availability for luring talent, behind and in front of the camera, doesn't hinder. With a cast of unknowns, the production and the acting here is so wooden that were they to be carved into the shape of a cross they could be used to kill the hemoglobin-starved antagonist. Bloody stiff.


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DVD

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.78:1

Subtitles: None

Language and Sound: English: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; commentary track.

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with writer, producer, and director Michael Feifer
* Photo Galleries
* Previews - forced trailers for The Spirit, Bangkok Dangerous, Dungeon Girl, Werewolf: The Devil's Hound, Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave, and Skinwalkers

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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