Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Forgotten Sequels: Dracula II- Ascension

Two years have gone by since Wes Craven's attempt to reinvent the Dracula lore.  Despite him only being an Executive Producer, enough interest was created to get this movie made.  Of course, it was made Direct-to-DVD, taking the wind out of their sails a bit.  What's there to say about the movie?  It takes the series in a new direction, features a bunch of new actors and really is only tangentially-connected.  Sure, they tell you that it's connected, but you only have their word for it.  Fun fact: the new Dracula is credited as 'Dracula II.'  That's just silly, guys!  Another thing to note is that this movie sets up the idea that Dracula changes form every time that he dies.  Um, the film your following makes that complete bullshit, guys!  As Judas, he looked like Gerard Butler, he looked like Butler in the 19th Century and when he was brought back.  Does he just turn into different people when your original star gets too famous?  Ugh.  Anyhow, this is...
Before the credits, a woman is being chased by a mysterious, long-haired man.  Is this Dracula?  No, it's actually Jason Scott Lee, proving that a career skid can go as far as you let it.  The woman turns out to be a vampire and actually has a twin...who's also a vampire.  After a scuffle, he kills them and walks off with their heads.  A title card tells us that the film takes place two months later, which is kind of silly considering that the plot takes place within days of Dracula 2000's finale.  Our film proper begins by showing a bit about how Dracula died whilst hanging and burning to death.  We are introduced to a mostly-paralyzed teacher who is in a relationship with a redhead student (future Law & Order: SVU star Diane Neal), who works at a morgue.  Speaking of which, Dracula's charred body shows up and her friend (Jason London) figures that this must be a vampire.  As he explains 'I've never seen one, but I know one when I see one'- brilliant.  She gets pricked by a fang when it pops out for some reason & he gets a call offering $30 million for the biological secrets hidden in the body.  Meanwhile, Lee shows up and narrowly misses them sneaking out.  They meet up at a house owned by the teacher and study the body.  It doesn't go well.
After submerging the body in a bathtub full of blood, it comes to life and kicks one woman out the window- thanks for coming!  Thankfully, a James Marsters-looking fellow shows up with a flashlight and houses down Dracula II.  Wow, that sounded weird, huh?  He explains that he is 'the buyer' and that they need to move to a new building that is more secure.  Naturally, they choose an abandoned YMCA building.  We cut to Lee meeting up with his head priest...played by Roy Scheider.  Really?  You were in Jaws and you went on to play a blind priest in two cameo roles for these sequels?  The only point of this is to set-up Lee's character as a strange vampire hunter with a secret.  The redhead is also showing signs of being infected...from a finger prick.  No exchange of blood to turn, huh?  In the pool area, they tie up Dracula to a stand with an IV and surround him with super-UV bulbs.  They see that his blood can rewrite human DNA- bullshit- but this is broken up by the friend from earlier (London) showing up and explaining a bunch of vampire lore.  He sets up countermeasures to keep Dracula in line, including surrounding him with beads he must count and covering him with a net made up of knotted rope.  We also set-up that their is missing blood samples.  Where could they have gone?  Oh, the black guy took it and turned into a vampire instantly.  I wonder where that will lead.  Oh, he's killed by Lee's character within five minutes.
Back at home-base, things don't get any better.  Dracula tries to court the redhead, but that just gets him hurt.  While the others are away, he hypnotizes the dying man into wheeling himself off of a ledge.  His lady gives him the Dracula blood, which cures his neurological disorder within seconds.  However, he kills the mood by revealing that this was all a set-up.  You see, the teacher had a run-in with Scheider's priest (who is not blind here, but is later...and this is never explained) and has tried to track down vampires ever since.  Things turn bad as Lee shows up and kills the teacher, making this whole turn completely silly.  Dracula escapes by electrocuting the fake Marsters and bites...his face off.  In spite of this, he still turns into a vampire...and dies thirty-seconds later.  Commit to this, movie- commit!  In the film's silliest bit, London tries to slow Dracula down by tossing more beads at him...which he counts using his Matrix powers!  WHY?!?!?  Lee battles Dracula in a fight that leads up to the attic, while London tries to convince the redhead to go outside and purge the vampiric side.  The fight turns in Lee's favor, but he's momentarily-tempted with Dracula's first-hand knowledge of Jesus.  When he refuses, he gets shot by Neal and she escapes with Dracula...
This movie could have been really good, but it just comes across as rushed.  They try to throw way too much into this movie and still make it less than 90 minutes.  A vengeful vampire hunter- check.  A doctor seeking immortality- check.  A group of people seeking money from death- why not?  Had they chosen to stick to just one of these plot-threads, this might have been better.  As it is, we get a ton of crap happening in the last sixty minutes of the movie...none of which relates to Dracula 2000.  If they had simply cut the shots from that movie out, would you have really known so easily that this is a sequel to that film?  Hell, the title makes me think that it's a sequel to Dracula, not Dracula 2000.  Fun fact: that book has actually been written and released since this movie came out.  I rarely say this, but I will here: this Direct-to-DVD movie is too ambitious!  I say all of this in an attempt to ignore the film's throwing in of vampire O.C.D., super-speed counting and weakness to UV lighting.  Seriously, the last film tried to actually explain the cross and silver stuff, so why add more crap in?  It's sad to say how bad this turned out...until you talk about the sequel.  Things don't get any better, folks!
Next up, we close out the trilogy with a trip to Romania and a third Dracula actor.  You wanted continuity or something?  Stay tuned...


  1. This is a brilliant review...thanks for the laughs. This sounds like a Tower Farm movie if there ever was one. We've seen (& loved) Dracula 2000 many times, but never taken the time to sit through this one. I know, it's embarrassing. BUT...your review has convinced me to fix this mistake!

  2. That's good to hear. It's always been my goal to convince people to see crappy horror movies. Hey, wait a second...

    Seriously though, this can be entertaining is a silly way if viewed in the right mindset.