I refuse to believe Dario Argento wrote and directed this film. I refuse to believe that the director of some of the greatest horror films ever — Suspiria, Opera, Phenomena — could ever make a movie as awful as Dracula 3D. So if you're a fan of truly bad movies, this is going to be your favorite Argento ever.
Dario Argento's Dracula is not a movie that's so bad it becomes massively entertaining, like The Room, or Manos: The Hands of Fate. It's more like 90% of the other movies Mystery Science Theater 3000 took on — movies of incompetency on every level, where you have to wonder how virtually everyone managed to underachieve every single task they had in creating this movie.
That's not Dario Argento. Dario Argento has produced some amazing work in hiscareer. So I have to assume the director has had some kind of head trauma that gave him professional amnesia, because Dracula looks like the work of a first-time (and not naturally talented) director. Scenes are static and shot head-on; there can't be more than a few tracking shots in the whole movie. Performances are laughable to non-existent. Scenes include so much padding and time wasting that the 1:40 movie feels like three. The CG effects are early Doctor Who revival at best, and the practical effects aren't very good either. Things aren't shown instead of told; they're shown and then told, so everything drags and takes up more time.
And it's not scary at all. Between the performances and the effects and the horrible direction, there's no chance actual fear or worry to develop. Thomas Kretschmann's Dracula has no charisma or menace (it also doesn't help that his Dracula paid for the town's school to keep the villagers quiet, making him the nicest Dracula in film history) — he looks like he should be modeling a black turtleneck sweater in a JC Penney's catalog. In fact, the most unsettling part of the whole movie is when Dario films his daughter Asia Argento (playing Lucy) getting gratuitously bathed by Mina Harker, but it's not like he hasn't made his daughter get naked in his movies before.
The biggest tragedy is that there's no artistry here. In fact, there's only one surprise — spoiler alert if you're really looking forward to the only interesting moment in the film — and that's what Dracula suddenly shows up as a giant praying mantis. He's CG, he looks terrible, and the scene where he kills Lucy's dad is laughable, but it's the only thing I didn't expect in a movie where I saw everything else coming a mild away. (Alas, Drac-mantis only exists for that one brief, glorious moment.) Even Argento's deviations from the original novel are all things the Dracula movies have done before.
Hell, even Rutger Hauer, who plays Van Helsing and only shows up in the movie's last 40 minutes, can't do much. Admittedly, he clearly isn't interested in trying, either — although even the practically sleepwalking Hauer outacts the sum total of the rest of the cast.
There is nothing good about Dario Argento's Dracula 3D, so the only reason you should watch it is if you like bad movies — not fun-bad, bad-bad. But even then I'd highly suggest bringing at least one or two buddies over so you can riff on the movie together. (And maybe some booze.)