Jason Scott Lee, Jason London, Roy Scheider, Brande
As a straight-to-video sequel to Dracula
2000, Dracula II: Ascension immediately picks up
the story after the end of the first film. But, since none
of the original cast managed to come back, the obvious sequel
direction that the original flick hinted at was abandoned.
Instead, the story begins with a horribly burned corpse being
brought into a morgue, where it's immediately, albeit conveniently,
identified as a vampire. The body is then whisked away to
be experimented upon by Professor Lowell (Craig Sheffer),
his girlfriend and a few friends of theirs. Apparently, Lowell
hopes to find a cure to his disabling terminal disease that
has left him in a wheelchair. All the while, Uffizi (Jason
Scott Lee), a superhuman vampire hunter for the Catholic Church,
is sent to hunt down Dracula and kill him for good.
The story eventually takes a turn from the standard vampire
flick when Dracula is revived and the scientists begin to
try and figure out a way to use his blood as a curative element.
Unfortunately, this part is so light in the actual science
aspect that it merely serves as fodder to get to what the
movie wants - people turning themselves into vampires by getting
injected with vampire blood. Vampire traditionalists all around
the world must cringe at the thought of a bastardization of
the mythos, but even this variant concept isn't grounded well
enough to be plausible and eventually feels ridiculously campy.
It's like the screenwriter was looking for an easy out.
I would have to give credit to the screenwriter for throwing
in at least a few bits of extremely obscure vampire lore (the
compulsion to count seeds and untie knots), but ultimately,
the story goes in a direction that eventually makes the whole
experience laughable. The main story arc might have been adequate,
but the inclusion of the supernatural vampire hunter (who
never gets much in the way of depth) and the easy explanation
that Dracula looks different every time he regenerates from
a near-death experience just goes to making the whole story
The strongest aspect of the film is the cinematography, which
delivers the film with a decent level of quality that keeps
it from plummeting into ranks of B-movie horror flicks, not
unlike the Hammer
Films. The acting is okay, but considering the cast is
composed of a bunch of also-rans and washed up one-hit wonders,
don't expect anything too outstanding. Compared to the original
flick, this film's cast performs at a fairly weak, puppet-like
quality that does nothing to make you care for the any of
the events that occur.
Special effects come rarely, as if to hide a small budget.
Except for splashing everything in fake blood, using colored
contacts and fake vampire teeth, there are only a few instances
where special effects even turn up. For the most part, these
small instances are handled well, even if conservatively done,
but there are one or two times where they try to overextend
either their budget or level of competence and it shows.
In the end, Dracula II: Ascension is a mediocre experience
that only diehard fans of the genre might waste the money
to rent. With little to no connection to the first film, don't
feel obliged to see this if you enjoyed Wes Craven's first
foray with Dracula. With a weak cast, flimsy script and some
quality issues in production (there was at least one time
where someone in editing goofed), I can't really recommend
this to the average movie renter/buyer