Dracula – Masterpiece Theatre (2007)

It’s a requirement that anyone playing Lucy Westenra should possess a great deal of sexual allure, for the simple fact that it gives logic to Dracula’s hunt on her before going after Mina. And Sophia Myles hands the requirement like a pro. Myles is utterly ravishing in “Dracula” and she’s lusted after, for good reason, throughout much of the film, possessing her usual charm and likable charisma that makes her such a memorable actress. Myles also has a palpable chemistry with Leonidas, who manages to portray the charming innocence with Myles as the blonde siren that eventually gets bitey.

“Dracula” is not an awful film, and it excels with rather dreamy direction, and an interesting story that would have worked much better as another “Dracula” sequel, and not as a proclaimed “faithful” and truncated version of the novel. I hang around a lot of horror buffs. They’re people I often disagree with, and love to debate with, and one of the most mutual thoughts among them is that the novel of “Dracula” just wasn’t good. It also benefited from adaptations that strayed from the story. And I’ll have to take their words for it. “Dracula” a la “Masterpiece Theater” is a less than faithful adaptation of the novel, with a much less menacing Dracula. Why Dracula always has to be some super model or soap opera look alike, I’ll never actually know. Christopher Lee was menacing but charming in a gruff manner.

Meanwhile, this is not so much an adaptation, but more a vast re-imagining of the story, with many liberties taken involving a theme of syphilis and using Dracula’s immortality as a means of a cure. This isn’t the “Dracula” we’ve seen before. Very little from previous adaptations is evident here.Which is sad. Dracula has his castle again, flies to England again, and often resembles a decrepit Christopher Lambert. Lord Holmwood marrying Lucy Westenra, is told he has the possibility to fall ill to syphilis after his father rots away from it. Meanwhile Jonathan Harker is called to Dracula’s presence where he suffers an ill-fate, but Holmwood is tempted with the prospect of eternal life. The eschewed logic behind this character action is only one of the flaws behind this revision for the millennium. Harker who ventures to Dracula’s castle, is turned into a sap. He’s a gaping, often outlandish schmuck, who plays the hapless victim to Dracula, rather than the intelligent man who is overpowered by Dracula’s force.

Surviving only for thirty minutes, Harker is given a sad death accidentally stumbling upon Dracula and is killed rather brutally. Once he’s disposed of, Dracula heads to Lucy, and proceeds to follow the novel by slowly killing her, which is odd considering much of the first half of the film is completely in her focus. I don’t mind different looks at stories, consider that Broadway play that turns the Wicked Witch in “Wizard of Oz” into a protagonist. But, “Dracula” suffers because it lacks any style, or real menace within its story. Dracula is a young man who gazes angrily whenever anyone is talking to him, and no one really seems to gather that perhaps Dracula is to blame. Meanwhile, the story of Holmwood attempting to use Dracula as a device is vastly under-developed.

The producers would have done well to add a different title, dispose of the notion that this is an adaptation, and focus on Lucy’s marriage, and her husband’s attempts to control Dracula to save himself. Now that would have been a great film. Meanwhile, Van Helsing is reduced to a rambling old fool being imprisoned for some reason, there’s a mysterious cult whose intentions I could never understand, and much of what occurs feels like “Pride and Prejudice” guest-starring Dracula. Your best bet for your fanged fix would be to sit down and watch “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” instead, and for the hell of it, “Horror of Dracula,” and Universal’s “Dracula,” because they’re worthy variations. This isn’t, however, because it’s far from anything resembling a true Dracula adaptation. It’s not awful, but it’s still rather anemic. Even if Sophia Myles is a stunning beauty.