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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Dracula 3D aka Argento's Dracula [Blu-ray]


(Dario Argento, 2012)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Enrique Cerezo Producciones Cinematográficas S.A.

Video: MPI



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:50:04.431

Disc Size: 49,743,377,847 bytes

Feature Size: 36,834,041,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 28th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3668 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3668 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), Spanish, none



Behind the Scenes (1:03:53)

Kiss Me Dracula Music Video (5:10)

Trailer (1:28)

Redband Trailer (1:47)





Description: Horror maestro Dario Argento (Suspiria) puts his unique stylistic spin on the classic supernatural tale with DRACULA, a visually sumptuous retelling of the legendary myth. It s been 400 years since Count Dracula s (Thomas Kretschmann, Wanted) beloved Dolingen De Gratz passed away, leaving the immortal bloodsucker forever abandoned. But when he discovers that local newlywed Mina Harker (Marta Gastini, The Rite) bears a striking resemblance to Dolingen, his furious yearning is reawakened as he believes Mina to be a reincarnation of his beloved. Luring her husband Jonathan away to his castle with the help of his minion (and Mina s best friend) Lucy (Asia Argento, xXx), Dracula embarks on a bloody quest to reunite with his long lost love and live forever with her in hellish immortality. Only the arrival of vampire expert Abraham Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner) can put an end to the fiend s unholy plan. Luridly violent and brimming with passionate eroticism, Dario Argento s DRACULA is an all-out assault on the senses from one of horror cinema s most celebrated auteurs.



The Film:

There was a time when the possibility of horror maestro Dario Argento tackling the great legend would've inspired fevered anticipation, and that time was somewhere around 1977, when the triumphs of Deep Red and Suspiria, two of the greatest of all horror films, were fresh in audience's minds. But since then, the director has lost his way, to put it lightly, and Argento's new films often send his believers on a Where's Waldo search in which they parse the productions over for signs of the potential reemergence of the filmmaker as he once was and could perhaps be again. Hope often springs tragically eternal for the devoted horror fan.

Which is to say that Argento's Dracula 3D isn't so dispiriting because it's a bad movie, though it is, but because there's virtually no sign of the filmmaker in it, nor of any novel motivation to mount yet another version of an oft-told tale. Sure, there are fleeting moments of erotic kink courtesy of the occasionally heaving bare bosom, or of the subtexts that remain of the novel itself, but the film nearly plays as a low-rent adaptation you'd expect from the Syfy channel: The plotting is traditional and plodding, the blocking is flat, the editing poorly timed, the atmosphere flimsy and cobbled together, and the score too consciously flippant in an unsuccessful bid for self-aware cheekiness.

Excerpt from Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine located HERE

Unlike Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 telling of "Dracula" that infused the classic tale with multiple subtextual concerns, Argento's reading takes the story at face value, aided by Thomas Kretschmanns' stern portrayal of the legendary title character. All the while, actress Marta Gastini turns in a charming performance as the innocent ingénue, seemingly unaware of the campy spectacular unfurling around her. (And is there a more disturbing and confounding father-daughter relationship in all of cinema than that between Argento and his daughter, Asia? She appears in a handful of scenes, naturally gets topless in a couple, and helps immensely in giving the film its dark charge.)

Excerpt from the LA Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, I don't have a 3-D display but you are still watch the film in 2-D from this same Blu-ray disc. So this video review is NOT on the 3D version. Argent's Dracula was shot on HD (Arri Alexa) and it looks pretty impressive.  This is dual-layered but, strangely, a modest bitrate for the less than 2-hour film. Detail is excellent but there are a few brightness issues consistent with this production format. Overall colors and sharpness are very pleasing. It is transferred in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. There is depth and I noted no digital noise.  This Blu-ray is probably extremely accurate in representing the film's appearance.













Audio :

Audio is transferred via a very buoyant DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 3668 kbps or a linear PCM 2.0 channel. The surround is quite active with crisp separations and some intense depth - it almost seems to extend beyond the dynamic video. It is quite powerful. Claudio Simonetti (Argento's Tenebre, Opera, Deep Red , Suspiria etc.) did the score and it has a few impressive moments but generally is supportive without over indulgence. There are optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'.


Extras :

Notable as a supplements is the, hour-long, Behind the Scenes piece in Italian with English subtitles. It has many interviews with technicians of the film - most who have worked with Argento before. There are plenty of production details and you do gain some appreciation for the effort put in but I suspect only the director's devout fans will watch it to completion. We also get a, less-necessary, 5-minute Kiss Me Dracula Music Video and 2 trailers.



After I finished watching Argento's Dracula - I put on Coppola's Bram Stocker's Dracula because I wanted to verify (to myself) that there were so many similar scenes. I presume that this is because they are both taking much from the original book. I also got hints at Nosferatu - so this is not some outlandish take on Dracula but a re-telling. What I found as the biggest detraction were the poor set designs (ex. the train station) and equally poor effects (the owl.) But I suspect that the reason that this is so poorly received is a) because of Argento's iconic reputation for horror - expectations were impossible to reach and leave this as an unfair comparison to his other work and b) the film is weakly realized. I didn't find it overly sexy, although there is nudity, and I might lean also to the complaint of it being 'uneven'. It's not terribly poor or anything and Rutger Hauer is the best I have seen him in years. But, as most Dracula films go - this can't hold a candle to Coppola's take - now over 20 years old!  If you are considering indulging in this Blu-ray you should probably temper any extravagant anticipation of greatness here but it is also not as bad as seemingly represented by critics. I suggest passing. 

Gary Tooze

January 18th, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze






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