Just when you thought the vampire genre had withered away, along comes "Dracula 2000" to remind us the genre is very much alive. The first three fourths of "Dracula 2000" are marvelous. Unfortunately, the film is greatly hampered by a ridiculous ending that ultimately prevents it from being a vampire classic in the same league as "Fright Night," "The Lost Boys" or even the direct-to-video "From Dusk Til Dawn 3."
The best stuff in this Dimension Films release are the straight-ahead vampire action scenes, some of the finest ever filmed. Vampire hunter Van Helsing (Plummer), who has kept himself alive for over a century by injectin Dracula's own blood into his body, goes into battle once more when a botched robbery attempt on his London headquarters leads to the escape of the legendary vampire, who's been imprisoned for all those years.
Van Helsing uses a gun that shoots stakes and crucifixes that produce knives of silver to dispatch blood suckers. When an employee follows him from his London headquarters to New Orleans, where Dracula (Butler) has headed, the two join forces in a battle against the Prince of Darkness.
As is usually the case in Dracula films, Van Helsing always turns out to be the most interesting and crucial character. Unfortunately, he's only in about the first two thirds of this film. A storyline involving his daughter and Dracula's obsession with her is murky and confusing. The end of the film attempts to explain the origins of Dracula. The explanation is ridiculous.
Still, "Dracula 2000" is a slick movie (which is what we expect from Dimension) and has enough vampire punch to make it more than a worthwhile watch. Plummer makes a great Van Helsing. Butler is an O.K. Dracula. There are plenty of beautiful vampire vixens in the film, not the least of whom is Jeri Ryan of "Star Trek: Voyager" fame. Lussier has proven himself to be a great horror filmmaker (the flaws in the film are the result of a weak story). Lussier's last film was the decent "Prophecy 3." He's also edited plenty of films for Wes Craven and Dimension.
Better than most of the horror that hit big screens in 2000, "Dracula 2000" should have been released around the Halloween season, instead of the winter holidays, which is the worst possible time to release a horror film. Dimension made the same mistake when it released "The Faculty" around Christmastime. It didn't do well at the box office. You'd think they would have learned from that mistake.
Still, it isn't up to the level of some other modern vampire films, particularly "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "Interview with the Vampire."