During the Walpurgis Night in the woods adjacent to the village of Passo Borgo, located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, a couple of young lovers, Tania and Milos, secretly meet and make love. After fighting, Tania removes the cross Milos had given her. On her way home, Tania is chased by a supernatural owl that kills her. Some time later, Jonathan Harker, a young librarian, arrives at the village hired by Count Dracula, a nobleman from the area. Tania's body mysteriously disappears from the cemetery. In the meantime Harker, before going to Count Dracula's castle, takes the opportunity to visit Lucy Kisslinger, his wife Mina's best friend as well as the daughter of the local mayor.
Upon arriving at the castle, Harker is greeted by Tania, reanimated as a vampire, who tries from the very beginning to seduce him; however they are interrupted by Dracula's entrance welcoming Harker. Dracula shows Harker the library he is to catalogue. The following night Tania, having burnt Harker's photo of his wife Mina, tries again to seduce and bite Harker, partially undressing in front of him, but a furious Dracula intervenes, throwing her across the room. Dracula bites Harker's neck, but allows him to live. Dracula meanwhile visits Renfield in his cell and frees him from his chains; Renfield acknowledges Dracula as "Master". That night Harker glimpses Dracula climbing unnaturally up the outside wall of the castle. The following day, a weakened but still conscious Harker attempts to escape, but as soon as he is outside the castle a large wolf with a white lock changes into Dracula, who savages him.
Meanwhile, Mina, Harker's wife, arrives in the village and is a guest for a few days at the home of her dearest friend Lucy Kisslinger, who also gets bitten and turned. The day after, Mina, worried about her husband, goes to Count Dracula's castle. Their encounter makes her forget what happened during her visit. She is completely under the count's influence; the count had orchestrated the events leading up to their encounter; in fact Mina looks exactly like his beloved Dolinger, who died some centuries ago.
Returning to the Kisslinger house, Mina learns of the death of her dear friend Lucy. The sequence of such strange and dramatic events summons the aid of Van Helsing, vampire expert of the techniques used to eliminate them. Van Helsing, aware of the circumstances, decides to act swiftly and prepares the tools needed to combat vampires. He directs himself to the center of evil, Count Dracula's castle.
Meanwhile, Dracula goes to the village and kills the inhabitants who rescinded their pact, while Van Helsing, inside the castle, is able to definitively eliminate Tania. Dracula, intent on his desire to reunite with his beloved wife, leads Mina, completely hypnotized, to the castle where Van Helsing is waiting. He has decided to engage in a deadly fight with his evil foe. During the struggle Van Helsing loses his gun loaded with a silver bullet, but Mina, shaking off Dracula's spell, picks up the gun and kills Dracula with it. The special silver bullet transforms Dracula into ashes and Mina limps out of the graveyard, Van Helsing along with her. After they leave, however, Dracula's spirit lifts the ashes into the air and, uniting, they shape into a large wolf that leaps forward. Thomas Kretschmann as DraculaRutger Hauer as Abraham Van HelsingMarta Gastini as MinaAsia Argento as Lucy KisslingerUnax Ugalde as Jonathan HarkerMiriam Giovanelli as TaniaGiovanni Franzoni as Renfield
Prior to the production of the film Argento had wanted to film a version of Dracula but he "could not find the way into it." With the advances in 3D technology Argento revisited the idea as he felt he could offer a fresh take on the story in 3D.
The project was first announced on 20 May 2010 at the Cannes Film Festival, along with a teaser poster. with the first set images were released on 10 July 2011.
Dracula 3D premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 19 May 2012.
Dracula received generally negative reviews, currently holding an 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus states: "Schlocky and gross but far from bad enough to be good, Argento's Dracula 3D bites and sucks in all the wrong ways." On Metacritic, the film has a 23/100 rating, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, noting that the "first of many unintentional laughs in Dario Argento's Dracula 3D comes on the opening credits" and "this is a tired rehash that adds little to the canon aside from such outré touches as having Drac shapeshift into a swarm of flies or a giant grasshopper in one howler of a scene." Variety also gave the film a negative review, stating, "director Argento half-heartedly mixes schlocky 3D f/x with one-dimensional characters for a near-two-hour joke that ought to have been funnier."
Screen Daily noted that "it is so lushly loopy that against all odds it could become something of a 3D cult title, and certainly for those of us who have 'experienced' it there is a certain 'I was there' badge of honour to go alongside having been at the Cannes screenings of The Brave or Southland Tales."
Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com also gave an unfavorable review, criticizing Argento for delivering "a version [of Dracula] that plays like a choppy condensation based on hazy memories of the book", and described Thomas Kretschmann's performance as "perhaps the least terrifying version of Dracula to come along since Leslie Nielsen."
The film was also criticized for its look and visual effects, with TV Guide opining that "despite some attractive costumes and sets, Argento's Dracula is a sparse, cheap-looking movie, with visual effects that would have been rejected on Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Likewise, Fangoria faulted the film for containing "some of the worst visual FX for a film of this stature in recent memory."