Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh

Lots of classic vampire lore is minced and forced into a shiny new casing in

this glossy shocker, but in the end it's the same old blood pudding. The

trouble starts when thieves break into a weirdly decorated vault (what's with

all those skulls tucked into wall niches?) owned by London antique dealer

Matthew Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer). Expecting gold and jewels, they

instead discover an ornate coffin, and it's not long before one forces open

the lid and becomes the first victim of the resurrected Dracula (Gerard

Butler). Van Helsing, it transpires, is not — as he claims — the

descendent of the Abraham Van Helsing who faced Dracula in 19th-century

London. He is Abraham Van Helsing, self-appointed guardian of the

imprisoned vampire. He's been dosing himself with Dracula's tainted blood (a

nasty business involving leeches), prolonging his own life in hopes of finding

a way to kill the original vampire once and for all. But along the way, Van

Helsing sired a daughter, Mary (Justine Waddell), born with a touch of

Dracula's blood in her veins. Estranged from her father and overprotected by her late, fanatically religious mother, Mary lives in New Orleans and has no

idea of her background. But her recurring dreams of a demon lover are about to

come true: Dracula, having drained the dopes who unleashed him, is even now en

route to claim her. Co-screenwriter Joel Soisson is an old hand at spooky

stuff, and there are some interesting ideas kicking around in his script

(which flirts with heresy, blasphemy, apostasy or some such);

editor-turned-director Patrick Lussier manages to bury most of them under

shots of Mardi Gras mobs, Dracula swanning around like a Prada model -- though to be fair, Butler has the seethingly dangerous sex apeal to pull it off -- and

shameless visual plugs for Virgin Megastores. And Dracula's brides (come on,

Dracula always has brides) are a sight: Jeri Ryan, Jennifer Esposito

and Colleen Fitzpatrick (the alternative singer formerly known as Vitamin C)

in slinky, decolletage-baring dresses accessorized with fangs and contact

lenses that make their irises appear to be leaking blood. Yowzah!