Following The Librarian: Quest for the Spear and The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines, this is the best of three breezy, fantastical TV films about Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle), who works for an immortal sage (Bob Newhart) in a New York library which houses artifacts like Excalibur, the Time Machine, the Spear of Destiny and Noah’s Ark. The saga riffs on Indiana Jones, National Treasure, The DaVinci Code and a shelfload of classic literature and lore, but has its own modestly winning personality.
Flynn is fed up with the strain put on his private life by his secret job – his girlfriend dumps him with ‘maybe some women are okay with the wild and unpredictable life of dating a librarian but I’m not’ – and goes on holiday to New Orleans. Between jazz clubs and drinking, he falls into a mystery runaround involving voodoo queen Marie Laveau’s tomb and pirate Jean Lafitte’s ship in search of the Judas Chalice, an artefact made from the famous thirty pieces of silver, which ex-KGB baddie Kubichek (Dikran Tulaine) wants to use to resurrect Dracula so he can lead an unkillable army and retake Russia.
Flynn gets involved with Simone Renoir (Stana Katic), a 403-year-old vampire chanteuse. It turns out that the bones in Dracula’s tomb belong to a peasant, and the arch-vampire has been walking the Earth as crippled Professor Lazlo (Bruce Davison), who needs the chalice to restore himself to full power. Mild-mannered Davison joins a long line of unlikely actors (David Niven, Roger Daltrey, Robert Pastorelli, Adam Sandler) cast as Dracula, though his king vampire is supposed to be in disguise until the climactic fight, which features good use of disintegration effects and hollow-eyed zombie ghouls.
The series’ signature cracked erudition runs to lifting theology from Dracula 2000 about Judas being the first vampire – hence the aversion to crosses, silver, holy water and stakes made from a particular tree. The franchise took a rest before reviving as a TV series The Librarians. Scripted by Marco Schnabel, based on characters created by David N. Titcher; directed by Jonathan Frakes.
Extract from Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon.