Dracula 2000

Dracula 2000Country: United States
Director: Patrick Lussier
Starring: Gerard Butler, Christopher Plummer, Jonny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Esposito, Jeri Ryan, Shane West, Nathan Fillion,
Music: Marco Beltrami

Dracula 2000 (or 2001 as it appears on the screen as the movie starts – it wasn’t released in Australia till March 2001) is perfect popcorn fair. It has laughs, chills, action and as you have no doubt guessed, vampires. What more could you want on a lazy afternoon? No, no, don’t answer that – I don’t want to see any comments that suggest that this movie would have been better with a trio of naked ninja roller-babe zombies – okay!

The film opens in London, with a hi-tech robbery at the offices of one Matthew Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer), who is a well-to-do antiques dealer. Inside his office block there is a well-protected vault, which is the target for a gang of thieves, who believe it must contain vast riches. Inside, all the thieves find is a collection of skulls with oddly pointed teeth and a sealed silver coffin. Displaying a goofball logic that could only exist in a film like this, the thieves believe that Van Helsing is a crackpot and the coffin is only there to serve to scare them away. Meaning that even though it is a coffin, the criminals still believe it is full on treasure. So they steal the coffin and then fly off to the United States. As you will have no doubt guessed, the coffin actually houses the body of Dracula, and the crims are in for quite a shock when the pry open the coffin.

Dracula 2000 almost succeeds due to two factors. The first is Christopher Plummer. Even in the lousiest films – and Plummer has been in some doozies – he always puts on a good show. Here, he is utterly convincing – and this is just what the film needs at the start. The vampire, horror and modern culture aspects of the story were always going to take care of themselves. What the film needed to succeed was a heart, and Plummer gives the film it’s heart as the weary Matthew Van Helsing. The second element that helps lift this film, is ‘the twist’ towards the end. I won’t reveal it here for those who haven’t seen the film, but it concerns who Dracula was, before he became a world famous neck biter. When watching the film, as ‘the twist’ was revealed, I thought that makes sense. Later. Of course, I thought about it a bit more and realised that it only answered half the questions about Dracula’s history – and they aren’t the important ones. But while I was watching the film, I was impressed with what I thought was a new and unexpected slant on an old story.

Dracula 2000 is by no means a classic, but it certainly entertained me over its running time.

Dracula 2000

Starcrash (1978)

Country: United States / Italy
Director: Luigi Cozzi (as Lewis Coates)
Starring: Caroline Munro, Marjoe Gortner, Christopher Plummer, David Hasselhoff, Robert Tessier, Joe Spinell, Nadia Cassini, Judd Hamilton, Hamilton Camp
Music: John Barry

You may have noticed I have been a little light on for posts lately. Well I have had a dose of the flu and been a bit out of it, but sometimes that can work in your favour. During my feverish state I watched Star Crash, a film that had slipped by me all these years. And, it probably has to do with my delusional fevered state, but I believe Star Crash to be one of the greatest films ever made. Sure, it’s a Star Wars rip-off, but Star Wars has dowdy white robed Princess Leia as a heroine. Whereas Star Crash has Caroline Munro in a black leather bikini. That in itself should be enough for most of mankind, but the film also has space ships, amazons, troglodytes, stop motion monsters, and special effects that look like they could have been taken directly from Barbarella. Then we have Marjoe Gortner as some kind of energy guy who can see into the future. And it has Christopher Plummer as the Emperor of the Universe. Plummer once again proves that a decent actor can be given the most atrocious script to read, and still make the words resonate. Oh yeah, Hasselhoff’s in it too. But the movie is really about Caroline Munro in skimpy costumes.

The film starts with an imperial space cruiser searching for a secret planet in the haunted stars. This hidden planet is controlled by the totally evil Count Zarth Arn (Joe Spinell). And as the cruiser gets closer, the ship is attacked by red monsters. These aren’t your average monsters. They’re more like the bubbles in your red lava lamp, but they drive everyone on the ship mad. Well, almost everyone. The cruiser has three escape launches, and these are fired before the ship, well it sorta dies. It doesn’t really do anything. It just floats there.

Then we cut to our heroes. Stella Star (Caroline Munro) is a superb pilot, and Akton (Marjoe Gortner) is a superb navigator, but these two in the past, have breached the law. On their trail are two super space cops. The first is Thor played by Robert Tessier. You may remember Tessier as the bald header bruiser in Charles Bronson’s Hard Times, and many other 70’s action films with Bronson or Burt Reynolds. Here he is painted blue. The other cop is a robot cop (or Robocop if you prefer), named Elle (Judd Hamilton – voiced by Hamilton Camp in the English version). Elle is a pretty determined sort of character and never gives up. When Stella Star and Akton attempt to escape by flying blindly into hyperspace, Elle and Thor follow after them.

When Stella And Akton leave hyper space, they are in the Haunted Stars and are quite close to the drifting Imperial Cruiser. Stella goes for a space walk over to the cruiser and finds one man left alive, he is dehydrated and rambling about red space monsters. Before Stella and Akton can report the ship, Elle and Thor turn up and arrest them. And for their crimes, each of them is sent to separate penal colonies.

Meanwhile news of Stella and Akton’s discovery of the cruiser is relayed to the Emperor (Christopher Plummer). On board the cruiser was his son, Simon (Hasselhoff), and he wants to know happened. So he arranges for Stella and Akton to be released, and teamed up with Thor and Elle. Now all four are working on the same side, they set about tracking down the three launches that were fired from the Imperial Cruiser just as it was attacked.

Okay, I may have been a bit lavish in my praise saying this is one of the greatest films of all time, but it certainly falls into the ‘so bad, it is good category’. If you have a cold or flu, or a simply feeling a lit bit out of it, my prescription is one shot of Star Crash. It won’t cure you, but somehow you’ll feel a lot better.

The Starcrash trailer – uploaded to Youtube by: sideshowcarny

Starcrash (1978)