Dario Argento's Dracula
ZERO STARS/**** Image B Sound A Extras A-
starring Thomas Kretschmann, Maria Gastini, Asia Argento, Rutger Hauer
screenplay by Dario Argento, Antonio Tentori, Stefano Piani, based on the novel by Bram Stoker
directed by Dario Argento
by Walter Chaw I used to love Dario Argento. Heck, who didn't? But at a certain point, it became clear that the quality of Argento's work is directly proportional (or it was for a while) to the quality of work he's riffing on. A shame that lately he appears to be mostly riffing on himself--the elderly version of a vital artist doing his best to recapture something he's lost. It was Hitchcock as muse, of course, initially, joining Argento at the hip for a while with Brian DePalma, who was doing kind of the same thing at the same time with about the same audacity in the United States. There was genius there in the Deep Reds and Suspirias, certainly in the logic-bumfuddling submerged ballroom the heroine must enter to retrieve a key in Inferno. Argento didn't really start to make bad movies until after Tenebre. Since, with notable half-exceptions like Opera and The Stendhal Syndrome, he's made almost nothing but. It all comes to a head--or a tail, as it were--with Dario Argento's Dracula: the worst entry in a filmography that includes stuff like Sleepless and Giallo, and frankly belonging somewhere in the conversation of the worst films of all-time. Until you've endured it, I can't quantify it. Coming from someone once revered for his innovative camera, for his groundbreaking work with music and production design--coming from the guy involved at some level with the conception/production of Once Upon a Time in the West and Dawn of the Dead, fer chrissakes (who, indeed, counted Leone and Bertolucci and George A. Romero as friends and collaborators), it's a fucking tragedy.