Dracula II: Ascension – USA, 2003 – overview and reviews

 
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Dracula II: Ascension is a 2003 American-Romanian horror feature film, directed by Patrick Lussier. The movie stars Jason Scott Lee, Stephen Billington and Diane Neal.

Roy Scheider – star of Jaws, its sequel and whose career began in low budget horror with The Curse of the Living Corpse – has a cameo role as a priest.

Filmed in Romania by Castel Film Studios, the is the sequel to Dracula 2000 and was executive produced by Wes Craven.

Plot:

A small group of overzealous scientists hope to use Dracula’s desiccated—but still alive—body to discover the secret of immortality. Elizabeth Blaine, working at the New Orleans morgue, receives Dracula’s ‘corpse’ from her friend and co-worker Luke following the events of Dracula 2000.

Elizabeth examines the body and pricks her finger on a fang in what is supposed to be a human mouth. This leads her to alert her boyfriend Lowell, who is suffering from an ultimately fatal degenerative sickness. Lowell claims a wealthy investor wants to fund their research into the mysterious corpse (assuming the explanation for its condition is natural rather than having anything to do with the supernatural). They spirit the body away.

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On their heels is Father Uffizi, seemingly the Vatican’s official vampire hunter. He has been given the task of not only killing Dracula but granting him absolution (the Church realizes that Dracula is, in fact, Judas Iscariot). This will allow the vampire to rest in peace. What the Cardinal giving Uffizi this task may or may not know is that 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 (who secretly loves Elizabeth) doubts that Dracula is a purely natural phenomenon. He 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…

Review:

Laughingly disjointed and painfully displaying its cheap Eastern European production values, Dracula II: Ascension is an astonishingly inept sequel to a film that wasn’t any good anyway. Lussier’s film works as an unintentional comedy. Wes Craven should be ashamed he lent his name to this facile non-starter and even more embarrassed that he did so again for Dracula III!

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

Rebecca Isenberg of Entertainment Weekly said, “Dracula II is dripping with clichéd scare tactics, from abandoned houses to bathtubs filled with blood, [and] death scenes are equally predictable.”

John Puccio of DVD Town said, “The movie is a tired collection of tired clichés bound together by tired characters in tired roles. By the time the eighty-five minutes of the movie is over, you’ll be pretty tired, too. Nothing happens that is in the least bit frightening.”

Patrick Naugle of DVD Verdict said, “In Dracula II: Ascension, co-writer/director Patrick Lussier has crafted an only mediocre sequel that is sub-par in every respect: acting, plot, and special effects. In place of an interesting story is a movie that takes the character of Dracula, binds him to a cross, and keeps him locked up for most of the feature’s running time. While the filmmakers’ intentions were good, I can’t really recommend this sequel to horror fans looking for true cinematic terror.”

Craig Villinger of Digital Retribution called the film “a disappointing sequel and a disappointing vampire film in general”, adding: “Despite the obviously limited budget, Lussier has tried to make a visually impressive feature, and to an extent he succeeds, but ultimately the film is dragged down by an uneventful script, poor performances, and a terrible ending which offers the viewer no closure whatsoever.”

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