Dracula II: Ascension (2003, Patrick Lussier)

Dracula2

An occasional series where I write about works inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…

These reviews reveal plot twists.

Setting: After a prologue in the Czech Republic, the main action takes place in New Orleans (the same location as the first movie). It’s the present day – Dracula is resurrected on 10 March.

Faithful to the novel? This is a straight-to-DVD sequel to Dracula 2000, but title character aside it’s a whole new story. Dracula’s burnt corpse from film one is taken to a morgue, where a drop of blood from the cut finger of attendant Elizabeth (Diane Neal) begins a resurrection process. A guy called Eric (John Light) then offers Elizabeth and her colleague Luke (Jason London) $30 million for the body, so they realise they have a money-spinner on their hands. Elizabeth, Luke and two sidekicks (Blonde With Big Tits and Token Black Guy) take the body to an empty house. They start to experiment on it because Elizabeth’s paraplegic boyfriend, Lowell (Craig Sheffer), wants to see if they can use vampire blood to cure ailments. Dracula soon comes back to life, now played by Stephen Billington (Coronation Street, Hollyoaks). To explain the recasting, vampires are said to have Doctor Who-style regenerations. (Not coincidentally, writer/director Patrick Lussier edited a Doctor Who TV movie in 1996. On this film’s DVD commentary he admits to stealing a distinctive mirror shot from it.) Dracula soon kills Blonde With Big Tits, while Token Black Guy gets turned after injecting himself with vampire blood. When Lowell’s palsy is cured by a similar process, he reveals that he engineered the whole situation in order to get access to vampire blood; Eric is in on the scam too, and possibly Lowell’s lover. Meanwhile, a vampire hunter called Father Uffizi (Jason Scott Lee) is on the team’s trail. We see flashbacks to him being given his mission by his boss (Roy Scheider, who gets a high billing for 60 seconds on screen). They know that Dracula can only die once he’s been given absolution by a Christian priest. But before Uffizi can destroy Dracula, Elizabeth – who has slowly been turning thanks to that early finger injury – helps the vampire escape. It’s a deliberate cliffhanger. The next film in the series, Dracula III: Legacy, was filmed concurrently with this one.

Best performance: Diane Neal is reasonably good. She’s a believable human being.

Best bit: Dracula *bites someone’s face off*.

Review: It’s pacey and lasts just 80 minutes. Maybe it’s too pacey. There are a few jarring leaps forward in the plot. But like the first film in the trilogy there’s also a self-aware B-movie vibe about this. A mixed cast and a dull middle act are problems, while Dracula himself is essentially just a talking MacGuffin. But on the whole it’s shallow fun.

Six abandoned swimming pools out of 10

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