Will the new Dracula suck?

It’s not news that lately there’s been an increase in reimaginings of classic horror movies. Aside from the rather cynical motives behind the making of these movies, there really isn’t anything wrong with taking an old story and putting a new spin on it. Unless you spin it so hard that it gets dizzy and vomits all over itself, which appears to be the formula for modern horror reboots.

Recently, a trailer was released for a brand new Dracula movie titled Dracula Untold. Everyone’s favorite blood-sucking undead count is back, but this time it looks like he’s getting a Maleficent-like backstory where he starts out as a hero but ends up turning to the dark side. Well, that’s not so bad. The trailer looks nice, and it’s vampires! As long as it’s not Twilight, it’s hard to mess up vampires, right? Well… don’t count on that.

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Horror revamps have been unscrupulously churned out en masse of late, and their track record isn’t so great. Take, for instance, Dracula’s buddy Frankenstein(’s monster): In this year’s travesty I, Frankenstein, the monster is supplanted into a story that really has no connection to Frankenstein, his monster, or anything, really. In fact, why Frankenstein? It could easily have been anybody as the hero of this movie. Why not just slap Snake Plissken in there and call it a day? It would have made about as much sense. Even if it’s supposed to be a continuation, or fall under the guise of “artistic liberties”, it doesn’t excuse it from being a terrible mess of a movie and a terrible adaptation.

Will the new Dracula suck?

And then there’s 2010’s The Wolfman, which fails for almost the exact opposite reason: director Joe Johnston neglects to bring anything new or fresh or interesting to the 1941 original, other than an abundance of CGI and gore. Benicio del Toro is literally an American werewolf in London, but the John Landis film (along with other ‘80s films like Wolfen and The Howling) already did a pretty good job of reimagining werewolf mythology and bringing it into the modern horror era. The 2010 version just feels like it came out a few decades too late.

Will the new Dracula suck?

Another factor to consider is that Universal recently announced plans for its own “cinematic universe” to eventually team up all of their classic monsters. These days, all the studios are falling over themselves to do crossover movies, even though no one other than Marvel has really made a team-up movie work as of yet. So you’re probably thinking Dracula Untold will be the first entry in that universe, right? You’d be wrong. The continuity will begin with the 2016 Mummy reboot, and this new Dracula movie will be totally unrelated. Before it’s even released, it seems they’re already telling us it’s unworthy of having a place in the bigger picture.

This could mean nothing at all, or it could be a huge red flag. Another possible red flag is that the movie comes to us from some fresh faces: this is director Gary Shore’s first feature film, and the writing team of Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless have no other credits to their names. It’s a big deal to take an iconic character and give him a prequel of sorts, and even bigger still to make it a good one, and it remains to be seen if a group of newcomers are up to the task. This could also be a positive; Perhaps what the wonderful world of horror remakes needs is some new blood, so to speak. With that in mind, however, it’s important to remember that just because it’s an adaptation that goes in its own direction, it’s not exempt from being compared to the classic, more straight-from-the-book movies that came before it.

Will the new Dracula suck?

Ultimately, I can’t say for certain whether anything mentioned will have a bearing on the quality of the movie or not, but there does seem to be a disturbing pattern with these reimaginings. Older horror movies were about the slow burn, while the new ones are about gore and flashiness and over-edited CGI action. It feels a bit incompatible. It seems they’re starting more from the perspective of, “we have to make Dracula/Wolfman/Mummy/Frankenstein hip for the new generation!” instead of trying to figure out why these characters caught on in the first place.

Regardless, as long as Dracula Untold isn’t hyped as the second coming of Dracula films or something, it has a good chance of turning out well. Judging by the trailer alone, the worst case scenario is it becomes just another generic fantasy action popcorn flick—and contrary to how harsh that sounds, that’s not at all a bad thing. We need those kinds of movies, too. So will the new Dracula suck? Maybe not, so long as it doesn’t get too outrageous. Hopefully, it won’t be a story that was better left untold.

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  • If this one makes a lot of money you can bet it will be the entry point in Universal’s “monster universe” they want to create.
    I still think a “monster universe” is a bad idea, though.

    • Moppet

      I don’t agree, the old monster movie cross overs, even the ones that were pretty bad, had their charm. James over at Cinemassacre has gone over some of them for anyone that wants to know, but not actually go through the watching.

    • Nessus

      I think something in the vein of a Stephen King style shared universe would be cool, but when it comes to Horror I like mine relatively straight. Camp and schlock aren’t horror to my mind, since one generally isn’t watching them to be scared. There’s no reason why The Mummy, Dracula, The Wolfman, and Frankenstien(s monster) can’t exist in the same world, and having details established in one also showing up in another could be neat (provided it wasn’t ham-handed, or requiring you to watch one to fully get the other).

      But we all know they’re going to go for a revival of the old X vs. Y schlock aimed at copycatting Marvel’s sucess, which I’d agree is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

  • There has never been a good movie made for $100m+ by a first-time director (47 Ronin, Tron Legacy, Maleficent, Eragon, Transcendence etc) nor will there be.

    • Muthsarah

      Gotta wonder why they’re doing this so often these days. On the surface, it’s utter madness. Like the studios are playing chicken, trying to one-up the others by putting more and more money into riskier and riskier products helmed by less and less experienced directors. All the while the marketplace gets increasingly crowded, the blockbuster seasons are getting shorter than ever, and movies increasingly have to open HUGE or be guaranteed to fail, due to how short a life these movies have before the audience loses interest and moves on to something else.

      I imagine that the studios are choosing these less-experienced directors partly due to a desire to keep them under their thumbs. Sometimes an auteur director can be a huge moneymaker (Cameron), other times they can be notoriously over-time and budget (Gilliam). They want a predictable product. Unfortunately (for all of us, really), it’s predictably unsuccessful. Failure is the only thing about this that feels sane.

    • Wizkamridr

      I liked 47 ronin and Tron 2. To each his own.

  • Phil Andrews

    …The negativity…jeez. “I can’t tell you it’ll suck. It’ll suck, definitely. But I can’t say.” Also, Holy Knight renouncing god and becoming evil is pretty much Dracula’s origin in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He’s even got red armor, with dragons on it. Like Order of the Dragon, like in that movie. He’s even fighting Turkish hordes. Not really new for the character.

    There’s one trailer, it won’t be out for months. If the internet had been around in the ’40s Citizen Kane would’ve been utterly drowned out by an echo chamber of bloggers mocking Orson Welles’ fake nose and declaring the ending contrived before it ever saw a theater.

    .

  • Wizkamridr

    I liked the 2010 Wolfman. Oh well.

  • Moppet

    The Trailer looked pretty good. I don’t know if will be good or not, but hopefully it’s decent. I liked the Wolfman actually. Actually someone below mentioned 47 Ronin and Tron Legacy as not being good, but I rather liked both. Maybe that makes me one of the tasteless masses, but I’d be hard pressed to care.

  • Immortan Scott

    Whether this “Monster Universe” turns out good or bad, I know one thing: there’s no way it can be as bad as Van Helsing.

  • david f white

    Yes it will suck (very hard)!!!

    • Nine Breaker

      ba dum tish

  • JD

    Why cant they just use the original Bram Stroker story?

    hire some actors, find a set, movie magic.

  • Nine Breaker

    Meh. This seems like nothing more than an attempt to humanize the monster (I’m sure there’s a trope for that…). Can’t say I’m too surprised about it. The trailer looks ok, maybe something I’d watch on Netflix on a sunday afternoon.

  • Phantom Dennis

    Did anyone else go Rumplestiltskin? This is remarkably like Rumple’s Dark Lord ORigin in ONCE UPON A TIME. Just like the NBC Dracula was some sort of SteamPunk Tony Stark.
    If Universal is really trying to recreate it’s old universe. I wonder who’ll be Abbot & Costello

    • Phil Andrews

      Rumplestiltskin was never really a hero, as far as I know anyway. Unless they retconned something after season 2. His defining character trait was that he was descended from a coward, therefor branded a coward already by everyone, so he decided he might as well be a coward and crippled himself to get out of a hopeless war. If memory serves he just kindof happens on the dark lord thing because the current one wants out of the job so he jumps on it to save his son?

      Actually, now that I type it out the Bram Stoker’s Dracula movie had him going from hero to dark because his wife had killed herself due to a false report of his death and he cursed God for it. So this new version seems like a slight smash up between the two with the character from Dracula but the setup based on OUAT, ’cause saving his son…no dead wife…

      • Jennifer

        The interesting thing was, as I learned later…that backstory in Bram Stoker’s Dracula was supposedly based on an event in the life of the real Vlad Tepes.

    • JD

      i thought Rumpelstiltskin wheni saw the trailer for Into The Woods

  • Cameron Vale

    I was debating with someone whether it’d be a sideways kind of biography that overlays a magical interpretation on historical events, sort of like ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,’ or more like a ‘300’ thing with a vampiric Leonidas, and after seeing that trailer I’m still not sure.

  • Endorenna

    I rather want to see this movie, surprisingly, now that I’ve seen the trailer, and I’m not into remakes of horror movies the vast majority of the time. So now that I’m interested, it’s time to ignore every other trailer that comes out for it until I can go see it, haha.

  • Chris Hedrick

    I’ll bet the guy who greenlit this idea just finished playing the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow games, and still had it on his mind when this was pitched.

    • frodobatmanvader

      So glad I’m not the only one who thought the same thing. This movie looks like it’s to Lords of Shadow as Van Helsing was to Symphony of the Night.