Luke Roberts, formerly Holby City’s Joseph Byrne (the world’s most beautiful heart surgeon), with fangs, and front and centre of an epic story of love, revenge and power that spans centuries? Hell, yeah.
I settled down in front of Dracula: The Dark Prince (available to buy or rent from iTunes) with a great deal of anticipation given that it stars Luke Roberts, but with my expectations nicely managed by the dismal iTunes reviews so far and the fact it never had a cinema release and didn’t trouble the media much.
Roberts plays Dracula, but this Dracula is a weary warrior, bitter and brooding following the murder of his one true love. He doesn’t do the going out and biting people thing much, preferring to sit at home (on a throne in a gloomy castle – he does a great deal of moody sitting) and wait for the snacks to come to him in the form of a variety of luscious maidens in skimpy outfits who break into James Bond title sequence-style dancing whenever a camera trundles past.
He’s after some gizmo called the Lightbringer, which is in the possession of a woman who bears a startling resemblance to his former true love, if we can believe the portrait of her that hangs in Drac’s boudoir (and the fact that she’s played by the same actress, Kelly Wenham).
Roberts is convincing as a tragic, grieving lover – Dracula is a sensitive, poetical soul. He even gets to engage in a bit of soft-focus sex. All this despite having to wear a poor quality blond wig (apologies to him if it’s his own hair grown and bleached specially for the role) and (in some scenes) scary contact lenses and teeth. He’s not frightening, but he does have presence and a nice way with lines like “I’m not a very easy man to kill.” Some of the dialogue is in an Eastern European language too, which is rather thrilling. And despite the wig/hair, he’s very, very beautiful.
Apart from the moments when Luke Roberts was on the screen, I was never terribly absorbed in the plot (which also features Jon Voight in a hammy vampire-hunter role). It’s not scary, possibly because this Drac is (to me) more adorable than terrifying. And the sound editing is extremely strange. In group scenes, the extras have been miked up as well so any suspense that might have been generated is ruined somewhat by loud, hammy mutterings of the “Where are we? I’m scared! Gosh, he looks like a bad man” type. This doesn’t add to the proceedings at all.