Dracula (2006)

Starring: Marc Warren, Tome Burke, Stephanie Leonidas, Sophia Myles and David Suchet
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 08 January 2007

The BBC's new adaptation of Dracula, which was screened after Christmas 2006 is, of course, based on Bram Stoker's landmark horror novel, which in turn is said to be loosely based on the real-life exploits of Vlad the Impaler. The character has arguably spawned more books and movies than any other in history - some rewriting their own take on the myth, while many others have waxed lyrical with the idea of nests of more active vampires.

The idea of a TV drama version of Dracula is not exactly a new concept for the BBC who, you might say, has had several stabs at it. While Count Dracula, their late seventies version, stuck pretty rigidly to Stoker's book, this latest adaptation attempts to push the characters and situations in a slightly different direction. Harker is killed off reasonably quickly so that Dracula can use his documents to travel to England. However, the biggest change here takes place in the first third of the story, wherein Arthur suffers from a hereditary form of syphilis. He is afraid to consummate his marriage to the lovely Lucy, and sees his father die a horrible creature of madness and disease. He is then approached by the leader of a cult that claims Dracula can cure his blood illness.

With a period drama handled by the current blue-eyed boys at BBC Wales, and a sterling cast consisting of Marc Warren, Sophia Miles, David Suchet, Stephanie Leonidas and others, you would think this had all the ingredients of a fine soufflé. Unfortunately, rather than rise to the occasion, Dracula simply collapses in on itself. Warren (best known for Hustle, and the only good thing about the Doctor Who episode Love and Monsters) is wholly unconvincing in the title role, and David Suchet's Van Helsing is almost reduced to a bumbling laughing stock. Even the special effects seem below the standard we've come to expect.

Disappointing is the key word here. Aside from the aforementioned, you can only blame the script, which should grab you at every turn but instead causes your mind to wander and not care about anything that is happening on screen. Quite simply, this is Dracula by numbers.

Ty Power

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