Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Dracula - The Dark Prince (2000)
Movie rating: 7/10
DVD rating: 7/10
Release Date: April 23, 2002
Running Time: 1 hour 29 minutes
Rating: R
Distributor: Artisan
List Price: $24.98
Disc Details
Special Features:  Full frame format.
Chapter selection.
Director and cast filmographies.
Photo gallery.
Sneak peeks.
Digitally mastered.
Video Format: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Languages: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles: English, Spanish.
Captions: Yes
Casing: 1-Disc Keep Case

"Dracula-The Dark Prince" purports to be the true story of Vlad Tepes, the Romanian ruler who is the basis for the legend of Count Dracula. I'm not enough of an expert of Vlad the Impaler to know if the story is completely factual, but I've read enough to recognize that the filmmakers did their homework on the grizzly warrior. Much to my surprise, "Dracula-The Dark Prince" is a surprisingly good film.

The story is told in flashbacks. Vlad Dracula (Rudolf Martin) is the crown Prince of Rumania. He has been called before a counsel of orthodox priests lead by Father Stefan (Peter Weller). The counsel is considering excommunicating Vlad because his war against the Turks is financed by the Pope. Vlad recounts his bloody life before the counsel. For his entire life, his homeland has been under siege by the Turks. Vlad and his brother Radu (Michael Sutton) were kidnapped by the pedophile Turk Sultan as boys. Radu became a sex slave of the abusive Turk. Vlad eventually was released. While the boys were prisoners, their father (Dan Badarau) was murdered by Romanian nobles bent on saving their wealth by appeasing the Turk Sultan.

The adult Vlad remembers that his father said he should go to King Janos (Roger Daltry) of Hungary if there is ever trouble. Vlad appeals to the king to finance his quest to retake the throne from the Sultan's puppets. While at the Court of King Janos, Vlad meets and falls in love with Lidia (Jane March: The Color of Night), the daughter of Romanian noble who also hates the Turks. Vlad returns to Romania and begins a long bloody campaign to free his country. Vlad's father warned him about the nobles. "Greed is more powerful than loyalty" his father said. Vlad finds a more powerful means of generating loyalty: fear. Thus Vlad the Impaler is born. Nobles are captured and slowly impaled in long wooden stakes. Their bodies left in the sun to rot as a warning to others who might betray Romania, and to strike fear into the hearts of the Turks. I'll stop here as far as the story is concerned.

"Dracula-The Dark Prince" is made up of a fine cast of mostly Hungarian actors. The production design is excellent. Filmed on location in Hungary, "Dracula-The Dark Prince" is high on period atmosphere. The acting is quite good. Rudolf Martin is excellent as the troubled ruler who commits the most atrocious acts in the name of patriotism. All he does, he does for the people of Romania. Jane March, so terrible in "The Color of Night" turns in a very good performance as Vlad's lovely, but ignorant wife. Once she discovers the true nature of her husband's tactics, Lidia becomes a different creature. Ms. March pulls the difficult role off quite well. Roger Daltry seems a bit out of place with his British accent. In a cast filled with Hungarian and Romanian accents, Daltry's English accent is as out of place as Keanu Reeve's was in "Bram Stoker's Dracula." Peter Weller is effectively sinister as Father Stefan.

The movie makes a nice swerve from the realm of historical fact into the world of vampire legend during the last 5 minutes. I was bothered by this at first, but upon reflection thought that it was a nice twist. While not as original as the ending of "Dracula 200" in which the Count is revealed to be Judas Iscariot, this ending is satisfying. Even though their are fangs on the DVD cover, there are none in the movie.

The Disc
Good movie, sound and picture. Fair extras.

Picture Quality: 9/10
Nice transfer. No artifacts or pixilation. Some problems here and there with delineation of light and dark colors. All in all, a very good picture.

Sound Quality: 10/10
I preferred the 5.1 surround sound to the 2.0 stereo, but both are quite good. Lots of crunching and slashing during the film's many battle scenes.

Menu: 7/10
OK design. Nothing special. Easy to navigate.

Extra Features: 5/10
The photo gallery is limited and adds little or nothing to the DVD. The filmographies are extensive. The only extra I really enjoyed were the sneak peeks. I usually rant when a company calls sneak peeks and extra, but that is all this DVD has going for it in the extra department. I liked them because they were for several cool looking horror films.

The Final Word:
Fans of vampire films and Dracula in particular will want this one in the permanent library. It should also appeal to history buffs as it only deals with the supernatural aspects of Dracula in the closing scene. I wish there had been more extras. The USAfilms website has a lot of great stuff including behind the scenes features and interviews about the movie. I don't know why that material wasn't included on the DVD.

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