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Eric D. Snider

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Eric has been a film critic since 1999, and a beard wearer since 2008. He holds a degree in journalism and used to work in "the newspaper industry," back when that was a thing.

Eric’s Bad Movies: ‘Dracula 3000′ (2004)

dracula 3000

“Dracula 3000″ doesn’t have anything to do with “Dracula 2000.” They’re both just bad movies about Dracula with the year they take place in added to the title to distinguish them from the other bad movies about Dracula, of which there are hundreds, if not trillions. What makes “Dracula 3000″ different is that it’s set in outer space! Which only sounds exciting until you realize that means it’s set inside a grim, Soviet-looking spaceship that has all the futuristic appearance of a present-day federal building made entirely of dimly lit corridors.

Who is this movie for? That’s what I kept asking myself as I watched it, annoying myself with the constant questions. The film has nothing to offer fans of horror, vampires, or science-fiction. Nor does it have anything for people who enjoy entertainment, diversion, or pleasure. What it does have is the casting coup of the century: Casper Van Dien AND Coolio! So if you’re such a fan of both of those individuals that you’ll watch any movie with which they associate themselves, I can report that “Dracula 3000″ is indeed a movie with which they have associated themselves.

Casper Van Dien plays Capt. Van Helsing (yep, they’re going all the way with this), commander of a salvage ship in the year 3000 that comes across an abandoned cargo transport drifting in the cosmos. The laws governing space society are basically “finders keepers, losers weepers,” so Van Helsing and his scrappy crew are allowed to take whatever they find.

First, though, Van Helsing tells us who his crew members are. It’s the only time in the film that voice-over narration is used, so presumably he is speaking directly to you and me. Hi, Casper! Who are your friends??

- Aurora (Erika Eleniak) is Van Helsing’s hot blond second-in-command, an enigmatic woman of mysterious origins who will turn out to be a robot because this is a shameless “Alien” ripoff.

- Mina (Alexandra Kamp) is an unpaid navigator intern who does all the thankless tasks, including being the first one to enter the scary abandoned ship. When she gripes about it, the guys tease her about how great her job is because she gets to work with buff, sweaty men all day. Then another crew member sneaks up on her, scares her, and steals a kiss from her. There is a lot of sexual harassment in the future and/or in space.

- Humvee (Tiny Lister), the strapping deckhand who’s good at being large and picking up heavy things. Also Mina’s chief sexual harasser. (Note: Humvee is a nickname, and sometimes they call him “Hummer,” which means his nickname has a nickname.)

- The Professor (Grant Swanby), a wheelchair-bound Jeff Goldblum doppelgänger who does all the computer-y stuff. To underscore his smartness, he speaks in a British accent.

- 187 (Coolio): cargo specialist, comic relief. They call him 187 because that was supposedly his I.Q. “before he enrolled in the Berkeley satellite campus and starting smoking everything in sight.” (I don’t believe you that that’s where you got “187″ from, movie, but whatever.) He is smoking weed when we meet him, and all of his subsequent activities involve either looking for or smoking more weed. For example, he thinks maybe this abandoned cargo ship will have some weed on it. It’s possible that looking for weed is his actual job.

To summarize: Capt. Van Helsing’s crew consists of a lazy stoner, an unpaid intern, a paraplegic, a secret robot, and a strong guy.

Once they’ve boarded the deserted ship, the movie has two choices: get to the vampire action — which we know is coming because the movie is called “Dracula 3000,” so there’s no point in coyly building false mystery — or stall by coyly building false mystery and delivering cutesy non-jokes that wink at the audience. The movie chooses the latter path. Mina expresses cliched apprehension — “I’ve got a bad feeling about this ship” — and the Professor says, “It’s a spaceship, not a forest. Nothing’s gonna bite you!” DO YOU GET IT? Because later something* will bite her!

To aid in the stalling process, the film gives us snippets of video recorded 50 years earlier by the doomed captain, who is played by Udo Kier, who was in some other Dracula movies a long time ago and was persuaded to spend no more than two hours on the set of “Dracula 3000″ to film his segments. Capt. Udo Kier reports that soon after his ship left Transylvania Station (!!!) with its mysterious cargo**, his crew members were overtaken by a mysterious illness, and that no one can figure out who or what*** caused it.

Capt. Udo Kier is still aboard now, albeit in the form of a desiccated corpse sitting in the captain’s chair and clutching a crucifix. “A metal plus sign!” says 187 when they find the body. “This dude was into mathematics. That explains everything!” Now, I don’t deny that 187 is fairly stupid, but it’s not entirely his fault. Turns out religion and all its accoutrements were banned 200 years ago (when crucifixes are outlawed, only outlaws will have crucifixes), so it’s not surprising that it’s unfamiliar to him.

Capt. Van Helsing says practically no one believes in God anymore. Then Aurora says, “Who’s God?” OK, that’s stupid.

Unable to stall any longer, the movie finally gets to the point. 187 finds a bunch of coffins, each filled with sand and dust that used to be vampires, whereupon Dracula (Langley Kirkwood) emerges from hiding and vampirizes him. When 187 rejoins his teammates, the other crew members know something is unusual about him because he says filthy things to Aurora that are only slightly filthier than the things Humvee and Van Helsing say to Mina every day. OK, and also because he tries to kill them all.

Then 187 goes away for a while. People do that in this movie. There are only seven characters (not counting Ret. Capt. Udo Corpse), yet the movie loses track and just lets them wander off sometimes. Dracula disappears after telling 187 to kill everybody — you know, like Dracula’s got better things to do than help carry out his own plan.

While 187 is gone, Aurora encounters Dracula (who’s going by “Count Orlock” on this trip, so that’s the name you need to use if you call his hotel). He tells her what he is, what his hopes and dreams are, etc., and she returns to tell Van Helsing and Humvee. Humvee’s response: “What the hell is a ‘vampire’??”

OK, look. Maybe they banned religion 200 years earlier and no one believes in God anymore, and maybe for some reason in the year 3000 vampires are no longer part of humanity’s storytelling arsenal and haven’t been for a while. But just because ideas fall into disuse doesn’t mean people forget they ever existed. That’s not how culture works! “‘God’? What is this ‘God’ you speak of?” “A ‘vampire’? Am I saying that right? ‘Vam-pire’? My, what fanciful terms!” I mean, it’s been a long time since we had slavery, but people still know what it is.

Anyway, Van Helsing and Humvee want to know how Aurora met Dracula without being vampirized by him, and that’s when she has to fess up about being an android. The guys are mad she didn’t tell them sooner, but they have more important things to worry about. The ship’s computer reveals that Van Helsing’s ancestor hunted Dracula centuries ago, which leads Van Helsing to conclude that his being here now is no coincidence. The odds of that happening by chance are pretty astronomical. “Count Orlock” must have arranged it somehow, eager to settle an old score! A little later, Van Helsing comes face-to-face with Dracula, and he’s like, “Guess what? I’m a Van Helsing!” and Dracula is all, “Hmm? Oh, right, your ancestors. Whatever.” Then Dracula kills him. It was an astronomical coincidence after all!

During all this, the Professor is trying to get the ship up and running again, and then Dracula makes him a vampire and Humvee has to stake him. And Mina already got turned a while ago — I didn’t mention it because I didn’t care — and now she gets staked, too. Same goes for 187.

It comes down to Humvee and Aurora versus Dracula. They have a lot of time to strategize because Dracula wanders off again, not that interested in destroying them after all. But neither one knows how to fly the ship, so they’re basically doomed anyway. Aurora expresses sadness about the state of affairs. “I was programmed for human emotion,” she says. “I’m not the Bionic Woman.” So 1970s TV shows she’s heard of, but not God.

Finally, just when you thought the movie couldn’t get stupider, Aurora reveals that she used to be a sex-robot and asks if Humvee would like a sample, to which he eagerly assents. They scurry off to have sex while Dracula is still lurking around somewhere, and then the movie ends with the ship exploding. How? Why? I don’t know. I truly don’t. Maybe old Capt. Udo Kier set the self-destruct timer for 50 years later and it finally finished its countdown? Maybe it had been so long since Aurora worked as a sexbot that her parts had rusted and rubbing up against Humvee sparked a fire? I like to think the movie realized it was hopeless and put itself out of its misery.

*Dracula
**Dracula
***Dracula


Categories: Columns

Tags: Casper van dien, Coolio, Dracula 3000, Eric d. snider, Eric's bad movies, Van Helsing

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