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ARGENTO'S DRACULA
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, Asia Argento, Unax Ugalde, Miriam Giovanellia, Rutger Hauer
Director: Dario Argento
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: IFC
Features: See Review
Length: 110 Minutes
Release Date: January 28, 2014

Listen to the children of the night...”

Film ***

Italian horror master Dario Argento's take on Dracula will not be remembered for any bend on the legendary tale...fans of Bram Stoker may actually find this one of the more faithful filmed versions of the novel in a long time. No surprises are in store, unless you have actually never heard the name “Count Dracula” before.

No, what makes this version stand out is the amazing visual style, which, instead of bringing a modern look and technique to the tale, actually strives for something more historical. If you didn't know better, you would SWEAR you were watching a horror film from the 70s. This is so faithful a reproduction of a classic era and style, Quentin Tarantino would tip his hat.

Being Argento, there is a bit of gore expected and delivered, though it is not overwhelming, nor does it upstage the story. The best sequence is one where Dracula (Kretschmann) quietly encounters an inn filled with conspirators, and dispatches them quickly and grotesquely.

In addition to Kretschmann, Rutger Hauer is a nice touch as vampire hunter Van Helsing. The rest of the cast is not so memorable, but then, neither were the original characters. They are a means to an end, to finally bring the Count and Van Helsing together for a final showdown.

This is an entertaining picture, even though I confess I have never been a fan of Dracula as a story, or as a subject matter for movies. I've always believed the only way to film Dracula was black and white, but I stand corrected before Dario Argento's offering. This film is a case of style exceeding substance, which for me, was the best possible scenario for the story.

Video ****

It's only January, and we already have a disc to measure all other 3D releases for the year by. This is a superbly rendered offering, including both 3D and 2D versions on the same disc, but thanks to Blu-ray, nothing is compromised. Screen composition is stunning throughout, lifelike, and virtually flawless. Color representations and sharpness are strong throughout. A wonderful job!

Audio ****

Sound is crucial in horror (have I said that before?), but it's been a long time since I heard a mix this good. True horror sound is about the subtleties, not the loud bangs. This track is beautifully and cleanly rendered, making expert use of the surround channels. In one scene, a buzzing insect moves so perfectly from speaker to speaker that I actually swatted around my head. The balance is stunning, as is the dynamic range.

Features **1/2

The extras include a high definition hour-long behind the scenes documentary, plus a 3D music video, and both the green and red band theatrical trailers.

Summary:

Dario Argento has been helming frightening and suspenseful films for many decades. His first foray into modern 3D? As comfortable as a warm robe. Dracula is a superb 3D offering, and a wonderfully stylistic take on the tale.

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