DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Francis Ford Coppola
Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes, Bill Campbell, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits, Monica Bellucci
Writing Credits:
Bram Stoker (novel), James V. Hart

Love Never Dies.

Gary Oldman, Winona Rider and Anthony Hopkins star in director Francis Ford Coppola's visually stunning, passionately seductive version of the classic Dracula legend. In Bram Stoker's Dracula, Coppola returns to the original source of the Dracula myth, and from that gothic romance, he creates a modern masterpiece. Gary Oldman's metamorphosis as Dracula - who grows from old to young, from man to beast - is nothing short of amazing. Winona Ryder brings equal intensity to the role of a young beauty who becomes the object of Dracula's devastating desire. Anthony Hopkins co-stars as the famed doctor who dares to believe in Dracula, and then dares to confront him. Opulent, dazzling and utterly irresistible, this is Dracula as you've never seem him. And once you've seen Bram Stoker's Dracula, you'll never forget it.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Domestic Gross
$82.522 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 127 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/6/2015

• Introduction with Director Francis Ford Coppola
• Audio Commentary with Director Francis Ford Coppola
• Audio Commentary with Director Francis Ford Coppola, Visual Effects Director Roman Coppola and Makeup Supervisor Greg Cannom
• “Reflections in Blood” Featurette
• “Practical Magicians: A Collaboration Between Father and Son” Featurette
• “The Blood Is the Life – The Making of Dracula” Featurette
• “”The Costumes Are the Sets – The Design of Eiko Ishioka” Featurette
• “In-Camera – The Naïve Visual Effects of Dracula” Featurette
• “Method and Madness – Visualizing Dracula” Featurette
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Bram Stoker's Dracula [Blu-Ray 4K] (1992)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 7, 2015)

Though we’ve seen umpteen cinematic renditions of the Dracula story, none boasted a director as noteworthy as Francis Ford Coppola – until 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Coppola brings an all-star cast with him as well to tell this version.

Since the story’s so well known, a plot synopsis seems almost like a waste of time, but I’ll throw one out anyway – taken straight from the disc’s press release. “A young lawyer named Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) is assigned to a gloomy village in the mist of Eastern Europe. He is captured and imprisoned by the undead vampire Dracula (Gary Oldman), who travels to London, inspired by a photograph of Harker’s betrothed, Mina Murray (Winona Ryder). In Britain, Dracula begins a reign of seduction and terror, draining the life from Mina’s closest friend, Lucy Westenra (Sadie Frost). Lucy’s friends gather together to try to drive Dracula away.”

Although Coppola hadn’t made a great movie in quite some time before 1992, he still coasted on his rep. The prospect of such a formidable filmmaker – or at least a once-formidable filmmaker – behind the kind of material usually left as “B”-movie fodder proved irresistible. It was rare to find such a prominent director’s take on a horror flick, so this one boasted a lot of promise.

Unfortunately, the movie can’t live up to those expectations – or even come close. Indeed, the presence of Coppola behind the camera serves to make Dracula an even bigger disappointment than it would’ve been if created by a less famous director. If some middling talent makes a movie this bad, you think little of it. When someone with Coppola’s classics on his résumé turns out such nonsense, the stench becomes unbearable.

I know I saw Dracula back in 1992 but I can’t recall what reaction it provoked from me. Did I like it? Did I hate it? I really have no idea, though I imagine my reaction fell somewhere between those two poles; if I’d felt actual passion for it, I’d probably remember.

If someone asks my opinion of Dracula in another 15 years, I hope I’ll recall, as I definitely fall into the “hate it” camp right now. Actually, “hate it” might be too strong, as “pity it” sounds more accurate.

The film provokes sadness because it shows how far Coppola fell as a director. How could the man who created the sublime visual poetry of the first two Godfather flicks and Apocalypse Now make a movie as over the top and ham-fisted as this?

I don’t know, but Dracula falters in almost every possible way. The film tries so darned hard to scare us and give us the creeps that it becomes literally laughable.

The opening introduction to Vlad is goofy in its intensity, and subsequent shots of Drac and Harker follow the same lines. Coppola packs the flick with every possible ominous creak, whisper and rattle. He throws out so many of these elements that they become positively goofy, and they completely subvert any potential dread they might inspire.

Indeed, Dracula gets so silly so quickly that I wonder if Coppola meant for us to take it seriously. I think he wants us to buy into the scenarios and terror, but much of the time, his effort comes closer to Mel Brooks than to Tod Browning. This is a downright campy version of the tale, and not an effective one because it doesn’t seem to be aware of its inherent absurdity.

Coppola becomes too concerned with cinematic techniques, as he uses a mix of these to compensate for his inability to tell a competent story. Coppola pours on various effects, superimpositions and other methods to create a supposed sense of unreality and the supernatural. They don’t succeed, as instead they just make us even more aware of how little substance exists at the heart of the film. It’s a whole bunch of stylistic conceits without any depth or punch.

A series of bad performances don’t help. I know it’s easy to pile on poor Keanu and discredit his acting, but in parts like this, he makes it so darned easy.

Horribly miscast, Reeves plods through the role of Harker without any sense of life whatsoever. I get the feeling he tries so hard to reproduce a British accent – without success, mind you – that he can’t muster any attention for other aspects of the part. You know, like personality, intelligence or anything else usually referred to as “acting”.

Oldman doesn’t chew scenery – he feasts on it with giant bites. As Professor Van Helsing, Anthony Hopkins takes the same path, and he proves no more effective. Perhaps the actors were aware how little punch Coppola could bring to the project so they went broad with their performances to compensate.

But the whole thing’s big, isn’t it? Coppola can’t leave us alone with our thoughts for a half a second since he feels compelled to throw so much at us. Frankly, this makes the film kind of boring. It tries so hard to scare us and disturb us that it provokes the opposite effect.

When costume design offers the most – and perhaps only - interesting aspect of a movie, you’re in trouble. This is the state of affairs we confront with the impotent Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a nearly completely ineffective retelling of the classic tale. This one ends up as a misguided misfire.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus A

Bram Stoker’s Dracula appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this was an appealing presentation,

Sharpness was positive most of the time. Occasional shots appeared a little ill-defined, but those instances cropped out without frequency. Instead, the majority of the flick looked crisp and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and I noticed no edge haloes. Grain suited the material and I noticed noconcerns with print flaws.

In terms of colors, Dracula tended toward either an orange-red feel or blue overtones. These didn’t match the orange/teal tints that affect so many modern movies, though; they offered a stylistic choice but not an overwhelming one. The hues seemed well-rendered within the fimmaking decisions.

Blacks also demonstrated nice clarity, and shadows seemed acceptable to good. The minor murkiness of the era’s stock meant a few low-light shots appeared a little muddy, but they worked fine in general. In the end, I felt this was a solid “B+” image.

In terms of audio, the Blu-ray came with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. For those who lack Dolby Atmos equipment, the mix played as a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 presentation, and it was one that fared much better than I’d expect from a semi-older film.

To be sure, the movie boasted an active mix. From start to finish, the film made frequent use of all five channels. The various speakers kicked in good ambience during creepy quiet scenes, and they rocked to life well in louder, more action-oriented bits. All the elements meshed together smoothly and created a fine sense of place and environment.

Audio quality also was positive. Music sounded lush and full, while effects were clean and concise. Both of those elements showed nice range, with crisp highs and firm lows. Speech appeared natural and distinctive. This was a terrific soundtrack.

How does the 4K Blu-ray compare to the 2007 Collector’s Edition DVD? Audio was fuller and more involving, while visuals seemed tighter, cleaner and better defined. This was a clear upgrade.

Note that the 2015 Blu-ray comes with some controversy, primarily related to color timing. The 2015 release offers hues that differ notably from those of the 2007 DVD and Blu-ray. Some minor framing differences also occur. I don’t know Dracula well enough to claim which version provides the more accurate representation of the source, but I wanted to mention the variations.

The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras. We start with an introduction from director Francis Ford Coppola. In this three-minute, 55-second chat, Coppola discusses prior vampire films and his childhood experiences with those and the book. He also tells us why he wanted to make his own version of the tale. Though the intro isn’t crucial, it opens the movie in a pleasant manner.

The set includes two audio commentaries, the first of which comes from director Francis Ford Coppola. Created for the earlier DVD, Coppola provides a running, screen-specific chat. He looks at how he came onto the project, visual storytelling and the use of shadows, effects and costumes, the adaptation of the original novel and other influences, sets, music, cast and performances, and other thoughts about the experience.

The best parts of the commentary come when Coppola reflects on his own mindset. In regard to the movie industry, the director seems weary at best and bitter at worst. I don’t know if he intended this, but the commentary provides an interesting entry into Coppola’s psyche.

So how does it fare as a look at the movie itself? In that regard, it works fairly well. Though the track never becomes scintillating, it provides an honest view of the flick. Coppola goes over a nice range of subjects, especially during the second act. He starts slowly and fades somewhat toward the end, but the middle portion of the commentary includes quite a few good notes. This ends up as an unusual and intriguing piece.

Created for a 1993 Criterion laserdisc, the second commentary features Francis Ford Coppola, visual effects director Roman Coppola and makeup supervisor Greg Cannom. Recorded separately for this edited piece, we learn what led Francis to the project, inspirations and influences, the adaptation of the source as well as character/story choices, visual design and cinematography, effects, cast and performances, costumes, music and related topics.

Criterion commentaries tend to be good, and this one works well. It covers a nice array of subjects and benefits from its proximity to the movie’s release. While Francis’s solo track took plays years after the film hit screens, the Criterion chat occurred only months after its debut. That gives it an immediacy that benefits it and allows it to become a solid overview of different subjects.

As an aside, I wonder if Francis remained stung by the criticisms Godfather Part III received a couple of years earlier. His commentary for Part III left me with the impression he felt bitter about the experience, and a similar tone occasionally creeps into this track, as Francis gripes about those who didn’t like his movie. It kind of feels like sour grapes, especially since Dracula did pretty well with both critics and audiences.

Next comes The Blood Is the Life – The Making of Dracula. This 27-minute, 48-second program involves movie clips, archival components, and interviews. We hear from Francis Ford Coppola, screenwriter James V. Hart, and actors Gary Oldman, Richard E. Grant, Anthony Hopkins, Sadie Frost, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Bill Campbell, and Cary Elwes. “Blood” examines the rationale behind the creation of another Dracula film and a desire to remain faithful to the original novel. It also goes into characters and story, cast and performances, script alterations, and aspects of the shoot.

“Blood” was created with elements around the time of the flick’s release, a fact that initially caused me some concern. I feared it would be fluffy and not very informative. However, those fears proved unfounded, as “Blood” offered a strong examination of the film. The inclusion of so much prime movie personnel helps, and they offer consistently open and frank comments.

The shots from the set contribute to this tone as well, for we find quite a lot of intriguing background clips. In particular, the rehearsal images are fun, and we see fascinating shots of on-the-set conflicts between Coppola and Oldman. This is a very good program that doesn’t sugarcoat the experience.

Next we find the 14-minute, two-second The Costumes Are the Sets – The Design of Eiko Ishioka. It gives us notes from Francis Ford Coppola, Oldman, Frost, and designer Ishioka. The show tells us about Ishioka’s costumes and the realization of her designs. We see lots of conceptual sketches and behind the scenes footage that gives us a good look at the creation of the elements. This is another informative piece that digs into its subjects well.

In-Camera – Naïve Visual Effects lasts 18 minutes, 46 seconds and features Francis Ford Coppola, Reeves, visual effects and 2nd unit director Roman Coppola, visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr., and visual effects camera operator Christopher Lee Warren. The show examines the visual effects techniques used in the film. Dracula went with “primitive” effects, which makes “Naïve” all the more interesting. We get a great look at these various methods in this fascinating program.

After this we go to Method and Madness – Visualizing Dracula. The 12-minute, six-second piece provides remarks from Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Coppola, and storyboard artist Peter Ramsey. “Method” discusses artistic influences and goals for the visual design of the film. It shows the storyboard process and its use on Dracula as well as different aspects of the flick’s look and style. I really liked the other featurettes, and this one finishes the set with another terrific show. It’s consistently informative and intriguing.

12 Deleted Scenes show up here – though many are extensions of existing sequences. Taken together, they fill a total of 28 minutes, 14 seconds.

Among the extended pieces are “Prologue” (6:28), “Gypsies In Coach” (1:08), “Lucy’s Party” (3:44), “Harker Meets Dracula” (2:03), “Harker Explores Castle” (1:44), and “Rule’s Café/Convent” (2:41). There’s a “trim” from “Harker/Dracula Dinner” (1:04) and an “early version” of the “Ending” (2:53).

This should mean the remaining four clips offer new sequences. We locate “Harker’s Escape Attempt” (4:14), “Dracula on The Demeter” (0:41), “The Demeter Lands” (0:58) and “The Death of Renfield” (1:41).

Do any of these prove interesting? Not really, though the extensions are often more substantial than expected. “Prologue” creates a bloodier sequence in which Dracula condemns God, and it provides greater exposition in terms of our intros to Mina, Harker and Lucy. That one and the other elongated scenes don’t tell us anything we don’t already know, however, and the added sequences usually fail to develop much of interest.

“Escape” drags, and the Demeter pieces are downright goofy. “Death” is a little more compelling, at least, but the “Ending” isn’t satisfying. Though I can’t find much good material here, I do appreciate the inclusion of the cut clips.

We also get two components specifically created for this Blu-ray. Reflections in Blood goes for 29 minutes, 11 seconds and offers a conversation between Francis Ford Coppola and film critic FX Feeney. They discuss the adaptation of the source novel and related story/character choices, costumes, sets, effects and the movie’s visual style, and cast/performances. While a good chat on its own, “Blood” repeats a lot of info found elsewhere, so it feels redundant.

During the 20-minute, seven-second Practical Magicians: A Collaboration Between Father and Son, we find another conversation with Feeney, this time with both Francis Ford Coppola and Roman Coppola. As implied by the title, “Magicians” mainly looks at effects and the movie’s style. Once again, it works well in isolation, but like “Blood”, it covers too much material found elsewhere to add much new information.

Finally, the set includes two trailers. We get the “Beware trailer” as well as the film’s standard theatrical promo.

Busy and over the top, Bram Stoker’s Dracula provides an unsatisfying retelling of the vampire legend. It musters a few intriguing moments but proves so goofy and overdramatic that it doesn’t work. The Blu-ray offers strong picture and audio as well as a terrific compilation of supplements. I don’t enjoy Dracula as a film, but the Blu-ray reproduces it well.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main