Free is the best way to see some movies. Take the Coppola-directed Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The film was a disappointment on many levels — it is miscast, skewed quite far from the book (contrary to the title) and oddly stagebound. And yet it has a few bright shining ideas and performances, and some killer production design. Thanks to Hulu you can now watch the entire film for free.
This version of Dracula was released in 1992 after no small amount of hype within the geek community. (A short comic book adaptation beautifully drawn by Mike Mignola heralded its arrival, for example. Mignola also contributed production design and storyboards to the project.) The film boasted a few seemingly incredible casting choices (Gary Oldman as Dracula, Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, Tom Waits as Renfield and an early look at Monica Bellucci as one of Dracula’s brides) and quite a few head-scratchers. Ok, Winona Ryder as Mina Harker didn’t have to be a disaster, but Keanu Reeves and Cary Elwes?
Keanu’s wooden performance and the terrible ‘eternal love’ angle to the script really killed the film. And yet I keep going back to it. Oldman and Waits are incredibly magnetic in their work, and while the production feels weirdly flat it has some grandiose, incredible visuals. There’s the opening prologue, the Cocteau-influenced Castle Dracula, the way shadows move on their own and many other touches throughout the movie.
If you’re new to this film and like how it looks, take a look at the Blu-ray disc. I bought the disc primarily to see the Waits scenes in all their possible glory, but it makes a splendid visual backdrop at this time of the year; there’s always something great to look at in the frame.
There are two limitations here, beyond Hulu’s typical limitations outside of North America. One is that the video cannot be embedded. The other is that it is age-restricted, and so you’ll have to log in to see it. But for a free film, neither is a dealbreaker.