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Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula

Release Date: 
Air Date: 
October 31, 2000
TV Network: 
Star Rating: 
8 out of 10
You’ve seen 30-minute In Search Of episodes about Vlad Tsepes, “the real Dracula.” You might have tried to make some kind of sense out of Francis Ford Coppola’s wacky 1992 movie. Somewhere between those two extremes—brevity and incomprehensibility—you’ve probably thought there was a story worth hearing.

USA Network proves you right with the best treatment to date, telescoping 15th-century Romanian history into two hours of bloody intrigue and excitement. Vlad Dracula, son of a murdered king, seems headed for a life of hero worship when he reclaims his throne from Turkish domination and sends corrupt noblemen packing. Unfortunately, he gets a bit carried away with this impalement thing, and soon half his people have sharp sticks shoved up their asses for the medieval equivalent of parking violations. His political fortunes turn and he is dethroned, excommunicated, doomed to walk the earth forever as an “undead.”

For such a familiar story, Dark Prince has all the excitement of something brand new. These characters can easily become caricatures, growling for gore and calling down vengeance from heaven. But the excellent cast and ferocious battle scenes make for one of the best war movies to hit TV in a while.

And it’s a lot more wholesome Halloween entertainment than giving, say, cigarettes and beer to trick-or-treaters.