simply cannot be deterred from exploiting their grand history of monster
properties, and as a concept, that’s not a bad thing. Classic horror tales like
and Dracula
endure because they’re set on well-written, fully-fleshed out characters that
can be interpreted in a number of ways. And so when whatever current wave of
horror (ironic horror, torture flicks, Asian ghost stories) passes, these tales
endure and loom above them all. In practice, however, Universal has made some
poor decisions in deciding how they allow these properties to be re-presented,
and a lot of them have to do with giving modestly-talented genre directors like
Stephen Sommers big budgets and way too much leeway. And while the upcoming Mark
Romanek/Benicio Del Toro Wolf Man
remake is a step in the right direction, their other foot seems planted in
Shitsville, because they picked a Sommers equivalent to relaunch what is
arguably the flagship horror property.

Proyas, of Dark City and The Crow infamy, has just
been tapped for Dracula Year Zero, a fresh take on the legend now apparently
wasted. The story follows Vlad in his prime, as a Romanian warrior king
battling the threat of Turks to save his kingdom. We know where the story goes
from there, but emphasizing this part of the Dracula myth means we should have
a badass period war flick with underlying supernatural overtones. We should.

But there
is little in Proyas’ body of work that suggests he’s going to ace this. His
biggest-budgeted effort, I, Robot, was an overly glossy and
routine actioner that’s the celluloid equivalent of dinner at Applebee’s. He apparently got involved due to his relationship with Mike De Luca, who is producing (and who worked with Proyas on Dark City) the film. To
make things worse, there are a number of Dracula-themed projects in several
studios around town, so I’m thinking Universal is looking for a rush job here
to beat competition into theaters. At the very least, this will likely keep him
away from the rumored Fantastic Four/Silver Surfer spinoff
flick, which may be keeping company with the Jinx franchise in
oblivion anyway due to poor box office returns of FF2.