Your Daily Dracula – Hal Handerson, Dino A. Mumonovich, Alucard (2005)
Touted as ‘the truest telling of Bram Stoker’s novel ever to reach the screen’, there’s no faulting writer-director John Johnson’s microbudgeted film for lack of ambition. Faithful if underfunded, this is the first Dracula adaptation to tip ‘Dracula’s Guest’, a posthumously published ‘deleted chapter’, into the plot. It also features scenes and characters (Quincey Harker, the heroine’s son) pruned even from back-to-the-book endeavours like the BBC’s Count Dracula or Francis Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Johnson semi-updates the period and sets it in ‘Nilbog’ (a name copped from Troll 2!) rather than London (Nilbog still has a Piccadilly Circus, though). Jonathan Harker (Liam Smith) taps his journal into a laptop and Dr Seward (Jay Barber) has a mini-recorder for case notes, but clothes are near-period, blood transfusions are unhygienic and Victorian language is only occasionally salted with modernisms. This means losing a key element of the novel, which ‘sells’ supernatural elements by locating them in a recognisable, then-contemporary world bounded by railway timetables and newspaper reports.
Alucard takes place nowhere: so, rather than trespass in a modern world, this vampire moves from one limbo to another. Johnson, who also plays Quincey Morris, does unusual things which respect the text: in the early castle scenes, Count Alucard is played by Hal Handerson as an old, bushy-bearded brute … but scraggle-haired, youthful Dino A. Mumonovich replaces him for the vampire’s subsequent limited appearances, including one full-frontal nude scene (though Handerson continues to dub the dialogue). Acting is competent on a regional theatre level. Most of the cast assume mid-atlantic accents, but David Harscheid and John Vanpatten are surprisingly true to Stoker as a windily Dutch Van Helsing and a ranting Renfield. There’s one good shock appearance from Renfield and a few well-realised key scenes, but the climax dwells oddly on a poorly-staged kung fu tussle with gypsy henchmen before almost throwing away Alucard’s death.
Another curious choice is that the bulk of the film is widescreen but opening and closing moments are standard frame. A mostly effective ambient score gives way to campy rap over the end credits.
Extract from Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon.