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Renfield bites just right

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Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Maybe it’s because he’s related to Dracula (1992) director Francis Ford Coppola, or because he starred in 1988’s Vampire’s Kiss film, or maybe it’s because he’s one of the producers behind Shadow of the Vampire (2000), or maybe it’s because so many of his movies “suck,” but doesn’t it seem like Nicolas Cage has played Dracula before?

He hasn’t, but nevertheless, in the new Renfield film, which director Chris McKay calls a direct sequel to the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, Cage revels in playing the world’s most infamous blood-sucker, giving the character just the right amount of battiness to make him fun, but still creepy and scary.

Set in modern times, the titular Renfield (Nicholas Hoult), Dracula’s assistant/servant, has turned into an anti-hero of sorts, who brings his master subjects who deserve to be slaughtered, rather than the usual undeserving victims – which begins to irritate his boss, who would rather have a busload of innocent cheerleaders.

Renfield attends counseling groups in order to find abusers and evil-doers, which inadvertently gets him mixed up with a gang of drug-dealers and a good cop, Rebecca (Awkwafina), who is also going after the same criminals.

The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman produced the film and came up with the original idea for the story, which definitely plays like a comic book, complete with Renfield getting his super-powers by eating a bug (like Underdog eating a super-energy pill).

This is one of the goriest movies I’ve seen in a long time, but most of the blood and guts is overdone for comedic effect – unless you are squeamish. It has a definite B-movie vibe and I loved its nods to the 1931 classic.

The film has excellent special effects, and as dark comedies go this is a good one. It has some ingenious takes on Dracula and Renfield living in the modern world, and Cage’s performance provides just the right bite.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.