Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Behind the Scenes of Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D

Asia bares her fangs...
Dario Argento is currently ensconced in shooting his adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel, 'Dracula'. Filming began in Hungary (where Argento previously filmed Phantom of the Opera and produced Michele Soavi's The Church) in June and the film stars Rutger Hauer (as Van Helsing), Thomas Kretschmann (as Dracula), Marta Gastini (as Mina) and Asia Argento (as Lucy). A few on-set photos have found their way online courtesy of Asia Argento… 

According to Alan Jones’s on-set reports, filming has gone well thus far and the shoot has proved something of an Argento ‘family’ reunion. Working with the Maestro again are the likes of special effects artist Sergio Stivaletti (who has worked on the majority of Argento's films since Phenomena in 1985), cinematographer Luciano Tovoli (who also lensed Argento’s gothic masterpiece Suspiria and edgily reflexive giallo Tenebrae), production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng (The Stendhal Syndrome, Phantom of the Opera, Sleepless and The Card Player) and ex-Goblin composer Claudio Simonetti, who has worked extensively with Argento since they collaborated on Deep Red in 1975.

Descending to the crypts
Jones commented that the film is imbued with a ‘post-modern Hammer style’ and that Tovoli is aiming for a look that will be ‘classic, expressionistic, romantic and naturalistic all at the same time.’ Kretschmann also remarked on the unique look of the film, describing it to Alan Jones as "Splatter Visconti!"

Also according to Jones’s reports, Argento remarked to him “Once you've shot in 3D you will never go back." Hardly surprising to hear as Argento has consistently pushed the boundaries of film making technology in his native Italy throughout his blood-splattered career – his film The Stendhal Syndrome for example, was the first ever Italian production to utilise CGI, so it makes sense that he’d eventually experiment with 3D, especially now that it has become so ubiquitous.

As Asia is portraying Lucy, the Count’s first victim when he arrives in England, this will mark the first time she dies onscreen for father Dario. And the second time she’ll share screen time with Kretschmann (the first was during the sadistic and sordid The Stendhal Syndrome), who told Alan Jones: "When Dario called me up offering the role he said to think of it as a Stendhal sequel as I would be treating Asia (Lucy) just as badly!"

Dracula 3D will wrap soon, and early word is that Argento hopes it will be released in March, 2012 and he says that his screenplay is very faithful to Stoker’s text. With horror cinema experiencing something of a gothic revival (The Wolfman, Red Riding Hood et al), an obsession with all things fanged and blood-thirsty (Let the Right One In, a remake of Fright Night on the way) and pop-culture generally sopping with depictions of lovelorn/lustful vampires (True Blood, Vampire Diaries, erm, Twilight?) at present, the time is ripe for a revisit to Stoker’s source material, which arguably kick-started the whole mainstream acceptance/popularity of the vampire.  


Asia and Thomas



Dario

Marta Gastini as Mina

Asia and Alan



16 comments:

The Film Connoisseur said...

Looking forward to this, I hope its better than some of Argento's recent films.

Aylmer said...

I've been enjoying these pics too, and I'm actually quite looking forward to this. My favourite of all Dario's post-OPERA movies have been the gothic, non-giallo ones: PHANTOM and MOTHER OF TEARS. Unlike dull-fests like CARD PLAYER and GIALLO they are at least fun, gonzo, horror entertainment.

Giovanni Susina said...

Thanks for the insightful write up! It's good to hear that many of the long time cast and crew have come together for this Dracula adaptation which I personally had a hard time envisioning when I first heard about it. I am looking forward to it and I hope shooting in Hungary again results in a better film than Argento's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, which wasn’t that bad, but another masterpiece from Argento is long overdue.

James said...

Aylmer your favourite post-Opera film is Phantom??!! Woah. ;)
I enjoy certain aspects of that one - the set design, cinematography and locations - but for me, Phantom is the absolute nadir in Argento's career. Its tone is all over the place, I hate those rat-catcher characters (!) and even the sappy score by Morricone can't elevate it.
On the other hand, I really dug Mother of Tears, but again, coming after Suspiria and Inferno (tough acts to follow), it didn't quite cut it for me - but I'm still drawn to it, time and again! Surely a good sign?

I think post-Opera, my own favourites are Trauma, Stendhal and Sleepless. I also re-watched Card Player very recently and, while it is certainly a very basic offering, is still quite satisfying. Don't hate me. ;)

Giovanni, I too was quite floored when Argento revealed Dracula to be his next project, but after learning who else was involved with it (and seeing these photos), the prospect of an Argento take on Stoker's novel is really quite appealing! And I think Asia as Lucy Westenra (if anyone can 'vamp it up', it's Asia) and Hauer as Van Helsing is just great casting.

Shaun [The Celluloid Highway] said...

Asia Argento is in it? That's my interest in the film flushed down the toilet...which incidentally is where all of the films she has made with Dario belong. Nice article though James, even if it has killed my interest in DRACULA 3D stone dead! :-)

James said...

I think Asia is a fine actress, Shaun. Sure, some of the films she's collaborated on with her father have been derided over the years, but outside of those she has an impressive body of work and performances - she's one of those actresses not afraid to take 'unattractive' roles. Have you seen Scarlet Diva? She directed it too - some really nightmarish moments worthy of David Lynch and a really raw performance - and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things proved (to me) that she is capable of really meaty, affecting work.

I reckon she'll be a pretty good Lucy - especially once she's been vampirised. Did you read Alan Jones's set reports? Apparently Asia deliberately took a secondary role (and not Mina, like she was initially tipped to) because she didn't want another of her father's films resting completely on her shoulders. And so she could be more relaxed about the fact that this is the first time she dies onscreen for Daddy Dario.

Matthew Coniam said...

I'll never learn, but I have high hopes for this...
As soon as you mentioned it way back I hoped aloud for Asia as Lucy, and if he's sticking to the source material there's no reason why sheer style can't carry the day...
Is there?
I'll be at the front of the queue for this one at least, which hasn't been the case with the big man for years. I think there must be two Mother of Tears out there, and you saw the other one...

Do you reckon if we all think good, encouraging, Suspiria-ish thoughts, and beam them across the astral to Mr A, he'll find the psychic energy needed to pull out the stops and really reward our loyalty this time?

Guillaume said...

"I think post-Opera, my own favourites are Trauma, Stendhal and Sleepless. I also re-watched Card Player very recently and, while it is certainly a very basic offering, is still quite satisfying. Don't hate me. ;"

My favorite Argento post OPERA works are THE STENDHAL SYNDROME, THE CARD PLAYER (i love Stefania Rocca's character and performance) and JENIFER...i also think that TRAUMA is a bit underrated, i like Asia and Christopher Rydell's characters.
MOTHER OF TEARS is flawed but ambitious and pretty entertaining.
The only Argento post-1987 works that i'm not too fond of are SLEEPLESS ( save from the wonderful Goblin soundtrack and the brillant, creepy opening train scene) and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

DO YOU LIKE HITCHCOCK? is really fun and i thought that GIALLO was ok,interesting...
do you own the Blu Ray of GIALLO James?

Wes M said...

Great post James, even though I don't expect much from this latest Argento... I often think Argento sold his soul to the Devil for that incredible run of films from Bird With The Crystal Plumage to Opera, and after completing The Black Cat episode of Two Evil Eyes, the Devil had finally come round to collect...

I've been really enjoying Blue Underground's Argento Blu's these last few weeks. I can't believe no one has put out an English-language edition of Five Days of Milan yet, I think it's an excellent film...

msmariah said...

Asia is perfect for this role. I'm such a big fan of hers. I'll be interested in seeing this one.

MondoHeather said...

As an admirer of both Stoker's original novel and Dario Argento, I am very excited about this. There 's some brilliant casting here, plus with Simonetti on board, this could be magical....and way better than Coppola's attempt. As for Asia, I still think THE STENDAHL SYNDROME is one of her and Dario's best. It's too bad that she got tagged with the whole bad/sexy girl schtick, since she is capable of deeper range than that. STEHNDAHL is proof of that.

James said...

I'm with you Matthew! Let's all think good, encouraging, Suspiria-ish thoughts, and beam them across the astral plain to Dario... I rewatched Tenebrae last week (on Blu-ray), and man, that Tovoli can sure light a film! Should be interesting to see what he and Argento produce this time around.

Guillaume I just realised that Giallo has been released here on DVD (and possibly blu-ray). I checked my local HMV, but they don't seem to have it in stock - may have to purchase it online. I haven't seen it since the screening at the Edinburgh Film festival - so it should be cool to check it out again!

Arrow Video have been releasing Argento titles on blu-ray in the UK - like I said above, I rewatched Tenebrae last week and it looks AMAZING in HD. :)

James said...

I agree Heather - Stendhal is very underrated. Argento was very daring with it, and Asia's performance was just right. Shame about the terrible dubbing though! On another note - I quite liked Coppola's take on Dracula. Sure, it was excessive and OTT and had some wacky accents, but I liked that he was also quite faithful to Stoker's novel. The whole film looks like some vivid, sexed-up fever dream.

James said...

Yes Wes, that run of films from Bird With The Crystal Plumage to Opera is one I'll bet a lot of filmmakers would sell their souls for! A truly astonishing body of work. :)

Paul Synnott said...

Fingers crossed! Looks like a good team are on board.

Ty said...

Looking forward to this! Hopefully it comes out in 2012!