Halloween wouldn’t be complete without bloodsuckers. Not the lawyers type, but the ones biting their way through more or less creepy movies. Starting with some slow-moving black-and-white examples of the “classic” era, the new generation is much more agile…and in some sense, a lot more fun.
If a well-known horror movie director lends his name to a “… presents” flick, it doesn’t necessarily mean the outcome is quality, but Dimension Films’ Dracula series certainly has enough going to satisfy entertainment-seeking and less nostalgic-influenced horror fans.
(USA Patrick Lussier, director: Patrick Lussier)
A group of robbers steal Dracula’s coffin thinking it has valuables in it, but the lord of darkness is not impressed at all, except for a long-lost love reincarnated in the body of a young woman he seeks out to possess, making/biting some other (male and female) disciples on the way.
Classic horror purist might already give this the lowest rating possible, but like many new interpretations, it shouldn’t be compared to the original (or better COUNTless original, sorry for the pun). Maybe that’s actually the biggest problem: The story is very similar in certain ways (some character names remain intact as well) and it all ends up in quite a mess.
The only redeeming but also highly entertaining feature are the action scenes. These are pretty cool, with enough blood and gore to satisfy every genre fan. What remains disappointing throughout is Dracula himself. Gerard Butler might work in some recent action movies, but he doesn’t have an ink of aura around him and is not in the least bit scary or mysterious in his role. At least his three damsels of the night make up for it in better looks, even if the acting isn’t the best, but who cares about this anyway?
Dracula II: Ascension
(USA 2003, director: Patrick Lussier)
A group of students try to resurrect the count and get money out of it.
It’s funny that even with a lower budget and direct-to-video approach, this is in many ways much better than the original. Sure, Dracula doesn’t have a lot of screen time at first and the rather scary make-up hides the acting abilities (could be anyone posing for the count actually). But there’s definitely a lot more horror and atmosphere than in the campy first one.
The characters may not be the most likeable, and Jason Scott Lee as the whip-wielding priest isn’t the best choice, but all in all the story is much more engaging and there’s actually some suspense. Violence is also much more realistic and the movie has enough jumping-scary-moments to do a vampire flick justice, even if it means there’s not a lot of the source material left.
Still, the (open) ending and some vivid imagery make for one of the best modern vampire movies I’ve seen in a while and deserves more recognition than what usually runs in the cinema or on TV these days.
Dracula III: Legacy
(USA/Romania 2005, director: Patrick Lussier)
Dracula is back in his homeland Romania, but the whip-wielding priest and a survivor of the student group are on his heels…or wings.
Another strong entry and better than the original, this one is quite dark, bleak and violent. Even Blade looks rather comic (which it is) compared to this instalment. Even if not all the masks are that great, there are enough disturbing scenes and violence to make it stand out from watered-down vampire movies. If only the ending could be a bit better…
Rutger Hauer as Count Dracula does a good job, but it’s way too late until he appears. The whole story progression seems a bit off at certain points, so that some boredom sets in, which fortunately gets broken with some pretty disgusting effects and cool fight scenes.
Again not to be compared to the original black-and-white vampire flicks of ye olden days, the new interpretation is still worth watching.
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