Dracula II : Ascension & Dracula III : Legacy

A few weeks ago I had posted a review of the movie Dracula 2000. The movie would spawn two sequels to it as a sort of trilogy about the depiction of Dracula in the modern era. In Dracula II : Ascension, after Dracula is thought to be killed, his body burned to a crisp, it is brought to the local morgue. Contrary to the ending of the first film (in which Mary Van Helsing explains in a voiceover that she had returned Dracula to London and assumed her father’s duties as Dracula’s keeper). A small group of scientists, led by their professor,  hope to use Dracula’s desiccated—but still alive—body to discover the secret of immortality. While examining the body, Elizabeth (Diane Neal) pricks her finger on a fang, which leads her to slowly become infected by Dracula’s blood. Professor Lowell claims a wealthy investor wants to fund their research into the mysterious corpse (which they initially know to only be of a vampire).

Father Uffizi (Jason Scott Lee), seemingly the Vatican’s official vampire hunter is hot on the trail of Dracula, ordered to not just kill him if found alive but to also grant him absolution and let him rest in peace. The priest was scratched by a vampire fang in a previous hunt. Each day he exposes himself to the sun, burning out the vampiric infection while he screams in pain. Luke (Jason London) and Elizabeth smuggle Dracula’s body out of the morgue and meet with the friends Kenny, Tanya (looking oh so good in a form fitting tshirt) Eric (who Lowell introduces as the investor) & Lowell. They dip the corpse in a bathtub filled with blood from which Dracula (Stephen Billington) awakens and turns Tanya.  Luke surrounds the now-awake (but severely weakened) vampire with folkloric wards like mustard seeds and knots. Elizabeth, meanwhile, feels increasingly strange as the infection in her grows, as does her attraction/bond to Dracula.

Kenny injects himself with Dracula’s blood, becomes a vampire and goes out to feed. He kills a woman, making her undead like himself. Uffizi finds and kills them both, then backtracks.  Lowell. There is no “secret investor.” Seeking a cure for his illness, Lowell has used Elizabeth and the others ruthlessly. An injection “cures” him but he survives mere moments before Uffizi arrives. Dracula, meanwhile has gathered his strength and breaks free of his bongs, kills Eric and attacks the rest of the group. Uffizi tells Elizabeth, now on the verge of becoming a vampire herself, to enter the sunlight. He says it will be agony, but the vampiric part of her will be burned away. Then he goes after a now-free Dracula. A fight ensues and his weakened state, Dracula is not quite a match physically for Uffizi. The priest manages to get a whip around Dracula’s neck and begins the rite of absolution. Dracula then taunts Uffizi with images of the betrayal of Christ as well as his crufixion. As Uffizi is about to deal the final blow, a now completely turned Elizabeth attacks Uffizi from behind and wounds him. She leaves with Dracula, who says he is letting the hunter Uffizi live because he knows Uffizi will follow and eventually find him.

Starting off immediately after the end of the previous movie, Dracula III : Legacy sees Luke finding a critically injured Uffizi and taking him to be treated. As he recovers the two have formed a partnership killing vampires and hunting Dracula. Five years later Father Uffizi and Luke discover that Dracula (Rutger Hauer) has returned with Elizabeth to his castle in the Carpathian Mountains. However the Vatican does not give Uffizi their blessing for the mission, fearing him to be tainted by Dracula. Uffizi gives up his priesthood and joins Luke anyway and goes to Bucharest. Romania has been devastated by a civil war,  and  NATO peacekeepers line the streets. In an abandoned village, Uffizi and Luke find a crashed helicopter containing a news reporter, Julia (Alexandra Wescourt), and her cameraman. The cameraman gets turned by vampire clowns but both he and the clowns are killed by Uffizi and Luke. The two leave Julia at the town and forge on but are soon lured into a rebel trap. They find Julia with the rebels, refusing to return to England with nothing but a story on vampires.

That night the rebel headquarters are attacked by vampires but Uffizi, Luke and Julia survive, proceeding to Dracula’s castle. There they find Elizabeth, almost totally turned to Dracula’s way of life, lying in a big room with several of Dracula’s other brides, indulging in blood orgies. Dracula mortally wounds Julia and tells Uffizi that only through God’s forgiveness can he truly die, but Uffizi engages the ancient vampire in a duel and ultimately destroys him by first biting him and draining him of his blood, then beheading him, announcing that he should consider himself forgiven. Meanwhile, Luke, on her request, beheads Elizabeth. Luke leaves the castle, while Uffizi sits on Dracula’s throne, Julia apparently revived as a vampire. The film ends with the implication that Uffizi, who has missed the morning purge of his vampiric curse, has become the new vampire lord.

I’ll watch anything that claims to have Dracula as a protagonist or if it features a story remotely connected about the great count. I like this trilogy but the 3rd movie is the weakest by far. I actually like Dracula II the best as the story is a lot more interesting and the plot is good. I’d give Dracula II a 7 outta 10 and Dracula III a 5 outta 10!

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