Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Jason Scott Lee
Directed by Patrick Lussier
When watching a horror film, you can at times find yourself pretty surprised. Such is the case when watching the sequels to the not-so-hot Dracula 2000. Despite its finer points, and it did have a few, that film played like a corporate MTV style snoozer. When the sequel Dracula II: Ascension was announced, my initial reaction was a very sarcastic — “Great. Can’t wait.” When I finally got around to seeing it, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. To say I was hungry for a third foray into the world of this new Dracula is an understatement. The second film left a VERY open ending, but could this third entry match up to the surprisingly fresh sequel?
The answer is yes, but before I get into the specifics of the film, let’s get a little history out of the way.
In the first two films we find out that the fanged one is actually Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ. This was the sole twist that kept Dracula 2000 interesting. Writer/Director Patrick Lussier, along with co-writer Joel Soisson, in this reviewer’s opinion anyway, have put a pretty cool spin on the whole Dracula yarn over these three films. Dracula’s been around for decades, but no one has ever really gone into detail about what or who he is. With this trilogy of films the legend itself is fleshed out a great deal and explains things such as why Drac is afraid of crosses, etc.
In this installment we find that the fanged one, now played by Rutger Hauer, has returned to Transylvania to take back his castle and rest up a bit after the torture he was put through in the last two films. He won’t be resting for long, however, because in hot pursuit are the ever vigilant vamp infected Father Uffizi (Jason Scott Lee) and his trusted sidekick Luke (Jason London), both reprising their roles from Dracula II. A grudge can last a long time, and Luke’s out to get back his girl while Uffizi is more or less just out to whip some vamp ass and put an end to Dracula’s reign of terror once and for all.
Ok, so we’ve all seen characters like that fleshed out in hundreds of other films by now. However, that’s really the beauty of Lussier’s trilogy. All of the typical vampire plot devices are here, but they’re pulled off and revisited in such a manner that despite being seen dozens of times, they still feel kind of fresh, and best of all — fun.
These aren’t exactly thinking man movies. Lussier and company aren’t out to reinvent the wheel, but they do one hell of a good job of keeping it turning. Twists and turns abound in Dracula III including having our heroes come face-to-face with a carnival teeming with vampires. People that have a fear of clowns should immediately go shrieking out of the room during this scene, but if you *ahem* chickens can stick it out, you’re in for a really good time.
While there’s plenty of startling imagery to be found in the film’s characters especially pertaining to the vamps themselves, there’s another star in this film. Bucharest, Romania. It’s impossible to look at the locations and not deem them perfect for the subject matter. Without question the setting does a lot to propel the viewer head first into this nightmarish landscape. Each shot is brimming with authentic feeling vampire flavor, at times achieving an almost Hammer Film type ambiance. Truly inspired stuff.
Note to aspiring filmmakers: When making a film about Dracula it could never hurt to be filming it in the character’s own backyard.
The DVD is just as much fun as the movie itself, bringing you all of the extras you have come to enjoy including a great and energetic commentary with the filmmakers, a conversation with Lussier about the mythology of vampires, a featurette with make-up designer Gary Tunnicliffe, and an alternate ending that was surely changed for the better. Yet the brightest spot contained in this package is a text only feature. Basically Lussier and Soisson have included their original script treatments outlining what they would have liked to have done with the story should their budget have permitted. Some of this stuff is side-splittingly funny, and I highly recommend viewers take the time to go through it all.
Dracula has been one of our society’s most beloved characters. It’s obvious that the folks behind this film have a real passion for the character as well. While this may not be what most horror fans would consider to be a Holy Trilogy™ of films, one things for certain: Dracula still has A LOT of bite left in him.
Dracula III: Legacy (2005)
(Dimension Home Video)
Directed by Patrick Lussier
Starring Jason Scott Lee, Jason London, and Rutger Hauer.
A Conversation with Patrick Lussier on the Mythology of Vampires
A Conversation with special makeup designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe
Feature Commentary with director Patrick Lussier, producer Joel Soisson, and makeup designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe
3 1/2 out of 5