The story follows a descendant of the legendary Abraham Van Helsing, who owns and is working in an antique shop in London. One night, his secretary allows her boyfriend and his hoodlum friends into the shop to steal things. Oddly, they find a high security vault and inside, a sealed silver coffin. Due to the security around the item, and because they are stupid, the thieves assume it’s very valuable, so despite the booby traps having already killed one of them, they take it and head to New Orleans, because when you steal coffins, that’s what you do. Van Helsing follows them to get it back, requesting that his apprentice, Simon, stays in London. Simon follows to New Orleans, because that will advance the plot.
The thieves continue to be stupid and so open the coffin on the plane, revealing the also-legendary Count Dracula. Free, he attacks the thieves, and causes the plane to crash in the swamp. He heads to downtown New Orleans and encounters college students Mary Heller and Lucy Westerman. Coincidentally, Mary has been having sexy Dracula dreams.
Van Helsing and Simon get to New Orleans and start eliminating the newly turned vampires that Dracula has been leaving around. Van Helsing tells Simon he’s not just a descendant, but in fact the original Abraham Van Helsing. After defeating Dracula in 1897, Van Helsing has been keeping him prisoner, watching over his body to ensure he will not get free and prolonging his own life with injections of Dracula blood, gotten via leeches, attempting to live long enough to learn a way to kill Dracula dead permanently (similar to what Setrakian was doing on the Strain).
Van Helsing tells Simon that Mary is his daughter, which is of course why she and Dracula are drawn to one another. He and Simon try to reach Mary before Dracula, but he has already turned her roommate Lucy into a vampire, and made her one of his three new brides, because as you know, Dracula is all about having three vampire brides around whenever possible. The brides are able to kill Van Helsing while Dracula captures Simon and Mary. Transforming Mary, he reveals that he was Judas Iscariot, and because he betrayed Jesus, he was condemned to live forever as a vampire – which also explains the crucifix issue and the silver issue. Mary, able to keep her wits about her, works with Simon to overtake and kill the brides, then together they hang Dracula so that he burns when the sun rises. Together, they put him back in his coffin and return him to the high security vault to keep watch over, until the next sequel.
And yes, there were two direct to video sequels, Dracula II and Dracula III. I can’t speak to the lack of quality of either of those, as I did not see them. There is also a Dracula 3000, starring Casper Van Dien, Erika Elaniak, and Udo Kier which takes place in space. No, I'm not kidding. This one is questionable in terms of quality - Directed by Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine, Drive Angry), It’s fast paced and sufficiently cheesy. The reason I like it is the surprisingly good cast.
- Gerard Butler – back when he was Gerry – plays Dracula as angry, sexy, and cursed. He’s always watchable, but if you want a little of him in something a little better, check out Reign of Fire.
- Christopher Plummer plays Abraham Van Helsing, and really, chews the scenery in the best way, as an old man who is ready for this situation, but also upset by it.
- Jonny Lee Miller plays Simon Sheppard, and is action packed and British.
- Justine Waddell plays Mary Heller-Van Helsing, who gets to be mostly taken in by Dracula.
- Vitamin C (remember when she was a thing?) plays Lucy, Jennifer Esposito plays Solina, and Jeri Ryan plays Valerie who get to slink around in white dresses as the three brides.
- Omar Epps plays Marcus; Sean Patrick Thomas plays Trick; Danny Masterson plays Nightshade; Lochlyn Munro (who is that guy you’ve seen in everything) plays Eddie; and Shane West plays JT.
- Nathan Fillion, yes that Nathan Fillion, plays Father David.
Overall, the movie is perfectly silly with a cast that you know, just that you didn’t know were in this. Check it out again this Halloween season, because of all the Dracula movies out there, why not check out one you totally forgot about?
6 out of 10, it’s not great, but it’s fun!