Dracula 3: LegacyReviewed By Doug Bentin
Posted 07/11/05 16:43:33
“Dracula III: Legacy” is the most entertaining part of the 21st. Century Dracula Trilogy from Dimension Films, released under the “Wes Craven Presents” rubric, but it should be viewed as part of a trilogy and not as a stand-alone. Anyone who has not seen the earlier films won’t be at a loss to know what’s going on, but it works better as a final chapter.We meet Father Uffizi (Jason Scott Lee) in a garden as Cardinal Siqueros (Roy Scheider, in this one scene only) is telling the Vatican’s ace vampire hunter to lower his profile. In fact, the church wants to give him a nice, quiet parish somewhere so he can conclude his career teaching catechism classes and dunning his congregation for more tithes.
“I don’t bless babies,” Uffizi snaps as he removes his collar, hands it to the Cardinal, and stomps away.
Next stop, Romania.
Uffizi is traveling with his wiseass sidekick Luke (Jason London) who is on the trail of a gal named Elizabeth (Diane Neal) who, in Part II, was seduced to the dark side by the king vampire, Dracula himself. If Uffizi can decapitate a few vamps while on the path of rescue—this is his favorite method of dispatching the undead, and he carries imaginative hardware that makes the job a lot easier than using a regulation sword—all the better.
And speaking of Blades, Uffizi is part vampire himself and wants to destroy Dracula (who will turn out in this picture to be the always welcome Rutger Hauer) before he goes over the edge and turns completely sucky. All these imperfections in his character cause Luke to call him “D.G.” for “Damaged Goods.” “Hey,” Luke explains, “it was either that or ‘Buffy.’”
Along the road to Transylvania, our two Van Helsings meet Julia Hughes, a reporter for the fictitious television network, the EBC, (Alexandra Westcourt) and her cameraman, the amusingly craven Tommy (make-up artist Gary J. Tunnicliffe having a whale of a time).
They also find a group of political rebels, and the entire group is soon captured by vampires out after dark in a quest for munchies. Wouldn’t you just know it—all those medieval mansions and not a White Kastle in sight.
Perhaps you’ve gotten the impression that “D III” isn’t particularly scary. Good. It’s not. But then, how many contemporary horror movies really are?
This is just a solid “B” movie, which means it borrows liberally from, well, certainly not its betters as it has a lot of “Van Helsing” in it. Let’s just say it appropriates some chops from its more costly colleagues, most notably the aforementioned Stephen Sommers monster rally and John Carpenter’s “Vampires.”
The flick was written by Joel Soisson, who made a pest of himself on American television earlier this year as one of the producers of the “Project Greenlight” horror movie “Feast,” and co-written by director Patrick Lussier. Both guys wrote all three of the films, beginning with “Dracula 2000” and its follow-up “Dracula II: Ascension.” Lussier directed the entire series. His work is okay without being terribly imaginative, and I assume he got the gig after editing “Scream 3,” “Cursed,” and “Red Eye” for Wes Craven.
“Dracula 2000” was released to theaters in North America, but episodes II and III both went direct to DVD, a decision I wouldn’t second guess. The trilogy makes an acceptable dark fantasy adventure story, but it isn’t strong enough in part or in whole to turn a profit at the box office.
Let’s return for a moment to my statement about most modern horror films not being particularly scary. I’m talking about the response of an adult audience here.
In 2003, Mike Robinson wrote on the vanishing horror movie for “Film Threat”: “During the last 20 years, something has changed, been lost from the genre and rendered it impotent of its main objective--to effectively scare the shit out of the audience.”
Robinson went on to speculate that contemporary horror films—or those movies marketed under the generic banner “Horror”—are watered down remnants of past glories that are intended not to run the risk of making our sphincters relax, but merely to give us a mild case of the goose-pimples.
He says that “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” “Hellraiser,” “and others of that ilk [are] so effective [because] the filmmakers made it clear that you were not safe from where they were taking you and what they were going to show you. These were films were, in effect, attacking their audiences, and the viewers never knew where the next blow was coming because they realized that the usual cinematic rules of restraint were not being utilized.”
Okay, I’m going pretty far into left field here in a review of “Dracula III: Legacy,” but maybe the reason pictures like this aren’t scary is that they aren’t horror movies at all. They are, at best, dark fantasies. This is a perfectly acceptable genre label in publishing, so why not in cinema?
Let me answer that question: if we didn’t have movies like this one to identify as “horror,” we wouldn’t have any horror movies at all.
But so much for the bully pulpit.For what it is—whatever it is—“Dracula III: Legacy” is a passable entertainment that should be viewed as the last chapter of a trilogy about Dracula in the 21st. Century and not as a one-off. It has its moments, but none of them are scary.
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