The surviving characters from the cliffhanger ending of Dracula II: Ascension pick up the chase. Pursuing Dracula (or rather, the much-older being who uses that name, and who was said to be Judas in earlier installments, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, either) are Jason Scott Lee as Uffizi, the vampire-killing priest now slowly turning into a vampire himself, and Jason London, whose girlfriend was snatched at the end of the last film. They travel through a Romania beset …y civil war, where vampires run rampant not only through the countryside, but apparently in the government as well.
This is a step up from the last entry (though shot at the same time). There is quite the epic sweep to the story now, and it’s refreshing these days to encounter purely vicious vampires who are nothing like Anne Rice’s tormented pretty boys. There are great lashings of grue, and the Romanian settings are used to good advantage (and don’t try to pretend to be somewhere else). Dracula himself doesn’t show up until the end, and thus the film learns from Bram Stoker’s source novel: keep the main villain off-stage, and show his power through the acts of his minions. When he does show up, he’s Rutger Hauer, which is another step up from the last film. Viewers who haven’t seen the previous film will be very confused, Roy Scheider phones in a tiny cameo, and London behaves like an idiot so often that one does rather tend to lose sympathy with his plight. Still, plenty to have fun with, as long as one’s expectations are kept in check.
The 5.1 audio is plenty atmospheric, from music to sound effects. The former has a big sound, helping the epic tone of the film, and the sound effects are copiously surround and usually well placed (there are a couple of moments of inappropriate uses of the rear speakers. The environmental effects are solid, and the left-right separation is excellent.
Let’s start by stating the most important: the blood looks great. Okay, that out of the way, the transfer is pretty solid. The blacks are good, as are the flesh tones. The colours are usually good, but there are some scenes where they become harsh and unconvincing. The grain is sometimes apparent, as is the edge enhancement, but these instances aren’t very frequent.
The commentary is by writer/director Patrick Lussier, producer Joel Soisson, and make-up man Gary J. Tunnicliffe. It’s pretty standard behind-the-scenes stuff, but perfectly acceptable. Lussier expounds on vampire mythology in an inteview, and Tunnicliffe has a four-part interview on his work. There are four cast audition clips, a deleted scene, an alternate ending, and the original story treatments for all three films in the series. The trailers for the series are here too, plus some others that play when the disc loads. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.
Nonetheless, rack this up in the pleasant surprises category. It won’t win any awards, and isn’t perfect, but it is a pleasing 90 minutes of fast-paced horror.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “A Conversation with Patrick Lussier on the Mythology of Vampierrs”
- Interview with Gary J. Tunnicliffe
- Deleted Scene
- Alternate Ending
- Story Treatments