Thieves steal a coffin containing the still-living body of Antiques dealer Dr Van Helsing's old enemy, Dracula. In New Orleans, with the thieves as an entourage, Dracula seeks out Mary, Van Helsing's estranged daughter...
When working on his own stab at Bram Stoker's arch-vampire, Francis Ford Coppola said, "If your movie's called Dracula, then the word had better be that the guy playing Dracula is terrific, or you're dead in the water."
Dracula 2001 - released in the States late last year as Dracula 2000 and liable to be Dracula 2002 on video - works hard at mixing the vampire stylings of vintage Hammer (well, of Dracula AD 1972) and the Blade/Buffy kung fu gang, but it's decaying in the water because not only is the guy playing Dracula not terrific, he barely even registers on screen.
With his Christopher Lee stare and Frank Langella hair, Butler is an identikit of earlier stabs at the role, but comes off as more or less ridiculous as he slides through the New Orleans Virgin Megastore, making all female heads turn as if he were starring in a body lotion commercial, and cooing his approval of a Death Metal video.
Prefaced by a "Wes Craven Presents" logo that means no more here than it did on Wishmaster, the first 21st century Dracula at least tries to come up with a new backstory for the Count - here a mix of biblical and Christian legend characters who has been stalking the earth in despair since the Crucifixion.
The script has some nice ideas, and there's enough solid professionalism from Plummer to make you wish this wasn't a yoof-oriented film that feels the need to let a top-of-his-voice Miller carry the heroism into the finale instead. Then again, if Butler can't cope with Miller in a confrontation, he'd have no chance with an actor of real stature, so perhaps it's a wise move to let the youngsters do the staking and biting.
It's not all dire - there's some okay fang fatale writhing from the likes of Jennifer Esposito and Fitzpatrick, and the build-up is persuasive. But once Dracula is on stage, the product placements and the whining take over.
Not the worst Dracula movie ever by any means, but Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee did it all better decades ago.