The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Dracula II: Ascension (2003)
A long time ago I reviewed Dracula III: Legacy, and figured at some point I'd get around to doing this one too, and when it came up as a part of the Stars Play 11, I knew if I was ever going to do it, I needed to get it in now while it was on Watch Instantly. As an aside, Netflix lists this as starring Rutger Hauer, but it doesn't, he's only Dracula in part 3. Too bad, they could've used him.
Dracula II: Ascension takes place right after Dracula 2000. The charred remains of Dracula find their way to a morgue where workers Jason London and Diane Neal of Law and Order: SVU fame think they may have a score on their hands. A rich man says he'll pay top dollar for the body, plus, Neal's boyfriend is suffering from MS, and she thinks some Drac DNA might be what the doctor ordered. At the same time, Jason Scott Lee is a priestly vampire hunter called to duty by Roy Scheider, and he's hot on their trail. Can he stop the big fella before these kids unleash an unfathomable evil upon the world?
I don't know what you do with this one. It has its moments, Jason Scott Lee is good, as is Jason London; on the other hand, we get big spells of nothing happening. "I was riveted to the edge of my seat by the scene where Diane Neal draws Dracula's blood, and Drac makes Wings Hauser faces." "My heart was in my throat as they examined Drac's DNA." We had a few nice Jason Scott Lee vampire killings that broke up the monotony, but otherwise, we were subjected to the intrigues of a bunch of not-so-compelling characters. Definitely no Blade 2, I'll tell you that.
Going back to my review of part 3 back in 2008, one thing that helped that one was the higher Jason Scott Lee quotient. Him kicking ass always works, and when compared to smug hipster med students intriguing against one another for Drac's blood, it's no contest. I noticed too in the part 3 review that I misunderstood the Cliff's Notes version of part 2 that part 3 gave us. Jason London was not Jason Scott Lee's sidekick here, which was another thing about that one that made it better than this one. London and Lee have better chemistry than anyone in this had with anyone else-- plus, they were more fun to watch separately, and it was disappointing that they weren't in the film more. One of those rare situations where mistakes made in one film are rectified in the sequel.
Here's Brande Roderick. We get her in this scene, we get her a little later in black leather pants, then Drac gets her, and she comes back one more time in her underwear as a vampire and Jason Scott Lee finishes her off. Come on movie, help me out a little here. Out of all the people you want to limit the screen time of, Roderick has to be at the bottom of the list. All those scenes of these not-so-compelling med students doing whatever they're doing become so much more compelling and intriguing when they have a Brande Roderick wearing black leather pants in them. It was a bold move on the part of the film makers to think they could forsake Brande Roderick in leather pants and keep us interested on the strength of the film's plot, a bold move that failed.
There was something very Wings Hauser-ish about this Dracula. He had this penchant for staring at people with his mouth open in a way that reminded me of Wings. You know how Wings does that? That quintessentially Wings face with his mouth slightly agape. It kinda makes me wonder, why didn't they just cast Wings? Has Wings ever played a vampire before? Wings as Dracula is the one scenario I see where we could potentially have a vampire movie that tops Blade 2 for my best of all time. I don't know if it's too late, if Wings is too old for it to work, but I'd like to see it attempted.
You probably don't recognize this guy, or, if you do, you have no idea why I'm posting his pic here. If you go way back into the archives, you'll find a movie I did called Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta, a Julian Sands werewolf flick about nothing in particular. This guy was in it, totally naked, running next to a Sands in werewolf form, his twig and berries flapping as he went. Now, whenever I see him in something else, he's the Naked Guy from Romasanta. It's a great name to have.
Out of the three films, part 3 is the best, but you may want to watch part 2 to understand part 3 better. I don't know though, I could've lived my life without seeing this one, and I would've been fine. Maybe if you see it on cable or something, you might enjoy it-- or you might just be better skipping it and watching something else.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0336325/