Bram Stoker’s Dracula

I had a birthday recently! After years of planning these big elaborate celebrations and parties and movie nights and events with minimal attendance, I figured I’d keep it low key this year. I just didn’t have it in me to plan something big, and nothing was really calling to me. Right at this moment, where am I happiest? If you’ve been keeping score at home, you know my current happy place is Alamo Drafthouse. Around when I was starting to solidify this plan, they announce Bram Stoker’s Dracula as their Terror Tuesday screening on my birthday. It’s not my favorite vampire film (in fact, I didn’t really care for it the one time I saw it) but it’s a freaking vampire film playing on my bday. How could I not? And it was late enough that I could hang out with people for a bit first. Awesome.

So that’s what I did. Movie started at 9. I invited people to come hang at Video Vortex downstairs as soon as I could get there from work. I ended up with about 10-12 people sitting around the table I picked out up against the wall. We were all sharing apps, that kept on appearing every time someone got up for another drink (thankfully everyone else seemed to love the buffalo cauli as much as I do because that supply seemed endless). I’d planned on maybe playing some Cinephile or the Blockbuster game, but the conversation was going so well, we didn’t need it. Maybe 2/3 of the crowd knew each other, but the odd men out had enough commonalities with the others that they seemed to fit right in. And as probably the best surprise, the giant wall screen behind us was playing old episodes of Double Dare. I would have happily just sat in front of the screen and watched that all night.

I was watching the clock, trying to time my goodbyes so I wouldn’t be late for the film, and I didn’t want it to end. We’d had a solid 2 hours or so, and I was still having a lot of fun. But at the same time, I know myself. In almost any social situation, I will eventually hit a point where I’m just done. So it was nice to not only not hit that point, but to have a definitive end that kept me from getting there. That guaranteed the evening went well. Closed out the check, gave hugs all around, and ran upstairs (with my fangs on) and a smaller subset of the crew.

As I said before, I’d seen this movie once, and I didn’t care for it. It was too long and slow and just couldn’t hold my attention. Plus all that I remember afterwards is how terrible Keanu Reeves’ accent was. Maybe sitting in a theater at rapt attention and with my new undying love for Keanu I’d enjoy it more, and I did to some extent.

What I realized in watching this is that it’s the most visually beautiful vampire film I’ve ever seen. The costumes, the sets, the make up, all of it is gorgeous. It stays true to the novel while pulling in from all the vampire films that came before it, and attempts to make the ultimate visual vampire encyclopedia on film.

It just feels like director Francis Ford Coppola (yes that guy) is trying to hard to make it the Godfather of vampire films. It’s this big sweeping epic that feels more self important than sincere. It sets a pretentious tone and a glacial pace that undermines a lot of the artistry. As a friend exclaimed after “That was a MOVIE”, and yes it was. It had all the pieces in place to make a great epic, but the intentions seemed to tarnish it.

Oh and Keanu’s accent is still atrocious.

But I did appreciate the film more this time around, and I won’t think of it was such disdain as I once did. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I think I could have because about five minutes in I remembered something. My go to parking structure across the street, where I’d left my beloved Samwise, was the one I tried to park in for the Rambo marathon. I didn’t end up there when I found out that it closed at 11. Dracula was a 2 and a half hour movie starting at 9. So I sat there freaking out that my truck would be locked up and I’d hafta deal with getting it back the next day or some other hassle. As soon as the film ended, I bid my friends an abrupt goodbye (even though one had lots of questions I would have happily answered). The garage entrance was locked, but the exit gate was half open with a security guard. He didn’t bat an eye as I ran in and freed my truck from its prison. And then drove home in less than 20 minutes, as opposed to the hour long drive from work at rush hour. I love LA