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Dracula: The Dark Prince

Here's a USA Network made-for-TV movie about the 15th century Romanian warrior prince Vlad "The Impaler" Dracula (Rudolf Martin) and what a nasty George Washington figure he was before he got all turned into a Victorian novel character by a careless priest (Peter "Buckaroo Banzai" Weller). The Brits are good at this type of historical costume drama. Too bad this was an American production. It plays hell with the facts and reduces its potentially gripping subject to cheesy soap operatic melodrama. How can hats being nailed to Turkish emissaries' heads be dull? The few interesting things here are location scenery at actual Dracula sites in Romania, such as Fagaras Castle and the monastery at Snagov (where Bad Vlad allegedly was buried), and the King of Hungary played unmemorably by, oh my, Roger Daltrey.

Originally broadcast with the disingenuous title Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula, it's not awful, but it is awfully ordinary. For the real goods, find McNally and Florescu's Dracula: Prince of Many Faces: His Life and Times instead.

*          *          *

Artisan's DVD offers up a good-looking full frame transfer (1.33:1) with fine color and definition plus audio in strong but unremarkable Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo options. This edition sports an MPAA "R" rating with an extra two minutes of gory goings-on not shown on American television. Not that any of it amounts to a hill of bat droppings.

Supplements are the usual make-do stuff — director/cast filmographies, a photo gallery, a trailer, and promo trailers for four other flicks in the gene pool. Keep-case.

—Mark Bourne

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