Remember when BLADE first came out? Then a couple years later, UNDERWORLD? It seemed the newest thing was the dark, violent vampire movie that involves sexy young things in leather and latex running around dark, damp alleys slashing each other. Enter a low-budget, but earnest attempt to capitalize on this trend: BRAM STOKER’S WAY OF THE VAMPIRE. It’s a relatively bad film, but it tries with such sincerity that I found myself enjoying the 80 minute flick in spite of its clear limitations. By the way, did Bram Stoker actually write a story this movie is based on? Yes, it’s called DRACULA, perhaps you’ve heard of it? This is a movie that takes extreeeeeeme artistic license from that movie. How extreme? Listen to this:
So Dr. Van Helsing, in the 1800s, goes off to take down Dracula. Unfortunately, the guy who he left behind to protect his loved one is a vampire prince named Sebastian. Oops. Next thing Van Helsing knows, Sebastian took a bit out of his woman and turned her into a vampires. Well, what can Van Helsing do? He’s a vampire hunter, he has to take her down. But all is not lost – apparently her immortal soul can be saved if Van Helsing tracks down all the vampire princes and eradicates them. Before you can say “Hugh Jackman,” Van Helsing makes a deal with some Knights Templar and will love on until all these princes are taken care of.
Flash forward to 2005, and Van Helsing is now literally a doctor – a hematologist (aptly) researcher in a modern day L.A. hospital (seriously, do you really think that all these vampires would end up in L.A.). Soon some prostitutes are showing up to the hospital with 90% blood loss. You gotta love horror movie hookers – they always end up taking one for the team so that the good guy can get a lead on the bad guys.
Sebastian and his crew, however, live like strung out junkies in an abandoned warehouse. Seriously, their lifestyle makes TRAINSPOTTING look like an advertisement for 5-star living. Sebastian gets rejuvenated with some fresh blood, and the vampire crew is back in effect. Unfortunately for them, Van Helsing hooked up with a priest and recruited himself a vampire-hunting crew (a particularly unmotivated one at that). And after some goofy, POLICE ACADEMY-style hunting clips, the fight is on.
And that’s where
the lameness kicks in. The vampires
kidnap a nurse that we have no indication Van Helsing cares a whiff about. The action is not nearly up to the level of a
bigger budget production. We do get some
nice scenes of blood, including an extreme close-up of a dirty vampires licking
the blood off of Sebastian’s body. All
in all, the movie is just what it is: a low-budget effort at joining the league
of the BLADE movies. It fails, but I
give it points for trying. It’s a
reasonably entertaining and not altogether poorly made movie. That’s just not enough.
RATING: ** (out of four)