Archive for dracula 2: ascension

Dracula II: Dracula Meets Science! a review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2015 by fawn krisenthia

dracula-2-ascension

A fresh burn vic is delivered in a body bag to a New Orleans morgue. Medical student Elizabeth Blaine (Diane Neal of Law & Order SVU) and her assistant Luke (Jason London) conduct the autopsy, noting that the organs are absent of blood. Luke recalls that the body was burned hanging from a cross at dawn in front of a church, and with an inspection of the decedent’s teeth which springs a fang and knicks Elizabeth’s finger, they both ascertain that the body is that of a vampire. Immediately, Luke receives a call from a mysterious Brit offering $30 million dollars for the cadaver. This bolsters the idea that they have a gold mine in their hands. Imagine harnessing the secret for eternal life, “immortality for sale at a morgue near you!” They call medical ethics professor Lowell (Craig Sheffer – who I honestly thought was David Boreanaz throughout the whole film) for guidance – an ethics professor who, curiously, is sleeping with his student Elizabeth– and he orders them to take the body to his parent’s… castle… for experimentation. As they are leaving the morgue, a very daunting vampire-killer priest (Jason Scott Lee) demands to give last rites to the corpse. They temporarily throw him off track by replacing the toasted vampire with another burn victim, and make their way to the castle where Elizabeth meets up with two fellow medical students Kenny and Tanya. They begin their scientific experiments on Dracula meatloaf, as a priest with a vendetta closes in on them.

davidboreanazcraigsheffer

Dracula 2: Ascension is the second movie in a trilogy directed by Patrick Lussier, and written by Patrick Lussier and Joel Soisson. This straight-to-DVD film with a $3.2 million dollar budget came on the heels of the lukewarm success of his theatrically released Dracula 2000, where the vamp trope of a sexy male actor donning fangs and stalking a pretty lady continues. [Spoilers ahead]

Within the first five minutes of the film, another modern vamp trope emerges when we are introduced to a sickle sword-wielding, trenchcoat-wearing priest that beheads identical twin vampire babes. Five years prior, viewers were introduced to Blade and the character of a bad-ass vampire slayer who also happens to be a vampire. Father Ufizi is just a rehash of Blade, but that doesn’t make him look any less cool.

double decap latte

double decap latte

However, the aspect of scientific experimentation on Dracula completely elevates it with its refreshing, nerdy take. From Dracula’s autopsy, the Dracula Meets Science theme continues when medical students fill a bathtub with 350 pints of stolen blood from a medical facility. The wonderful part of this scene is the fact that none of the participants ask questions, they just willingly go along with the idea that yes!, we have the body of a vampire and of course!, attaching electrodes to his charred body and immersing him in a bathtub full of blood will reanimate him. Which of course, it does. Dracula is also videotaped but unfortunately the image recorded is just an outline of morphy blood droplets because “the electronics don’t record him at all!” We also get to see vampire blood cells replicating under a microscope.

nice, but not quite as epic as the microscope scene in Horror Express (1972)

nice, but not quite as epic as the microscope scene in Horror Express (1972)

The film enters another stratosphere altogether when the sexy, brooding Dracula played by Stephen Billington comes on screen. At first, he is shown as weak and pale, chained and kept in a corner after attacking and defenestrating Tanya. It’s an odd cinematic treatment of Dracula. The title character is the subject of much ethical debate among the characters of the film, but for the majority of the film he is a secondary character tied up in a laboratory, cycling back and forth between being catatonic and pissed. But every shot of him in the laboratory is fantastically lit and even a little creepy. As the movie progresses, Dracula is given more blood to fuel his regeneration, and by the fifty minute mark he transforms into a delicious sex beast, and you suddenly realize, Stephen Billington looks like the crème of a goddamned tasty Dolph Lundgren and Rutger Hauer soup.

that swag tho

that swag tho

that swag tho

Science mixes with vampire lore in the way in which Dracula is kept confined in the laboratory. He is propped up by a dolly in the middle of a makeshift laboratory/bottom of an empty pool, surrounded with mustard seeds, draped with a knotted net, and bathed in ultraviolet waves from industrial lights. Props to Patrick Lussier for including obscure vampire lore; with the saturation of vampire movies, it is always refreshing to learn something new about vampires. Like a leprechaun’s weakness for shining any shoe he comes across, vampires apparently can’t move past piles of mustard seeds without counting every single speck, or move past a knotted rope without wanting to untie it.

The action really begins when Dracula telepathically pushes Professor Lowell down the pool stairs, critically wounding him. Elizabeth and Luke desperately look for the remaining vial of Dracula’s sample in order to inject him and save his life. The sample is gone. Kenny has already injected it and stalked off to do vampy things in the streets of New Orleans – oddly deserted streets I might add, even though this is apparently during Mardi Gras according to the hanging signs and float-gets strewn about the tables. Kenny is hunted and decapitated by Father Ufizi, but not before biting a woman in her apartment, who later eats her own cat.

:(

😦

With the sample gone and Dracula drier than an Arkansas county, Elizabeth and Luke must find a way to boost production of his magical juice and save Lowell. Elizabeth has already been infected by Dracula during his autopsy but has not yet turned, so she volunteers to do a blood transfusion. What ensues is the second best part of the film in what can only be described as HEMO-eroticism. As they exchange blood, Dracula mindfucks Elizabeth all the way to Transylvania. After some heavy necking, Elizabeth asks who he is, to which he claims to have been Gilles de Rais, Vlad Tepes, El Hazarid, Dagobert, Proximus, Uther, Caligula and Judas Iscariot. Later in the film as Elizabeth injects Lowell with Drac’s blood, she coyly asks “what’s it like?” …as if she doesn’t know already. He answers “It’s like… sex.” Of course, just having seen Elizabeth have mind-sex with the vampire that infected her, I am wondering if Lowell was in that moment having mind-sex with Dracula? These are important questions. Another important question is from where, exactly, is Lowell’s accent supposed to originate? It’s almost terrible enough to be distracting. David Boreanaz would have known better.

Lowell is immediately cured of his degenerative condition and reveals that he and Eric are actually partners. He was just using Elizabeth. Eric then rubs salt in the wound by a most intense flipping of the bird I’ve seen since Poltergeist. Incorrectly, though, as Eric is a Brit – but I suppose it would have been a lot weirder if he slowly did a ‘V’ sign.

The climax of the film came when Dracula finally has enough strength to leave his shackles and fights Eric. Eric at first tries to escape Dracula’s fangs but then implores him to “go ahead. I’ll still live forever” to which Dracula replies “Ahh, but WILL YOU WANT TO?” and immediately bites off his face. Eric the facebite vamp appears again minutes later, but is quickly shut down with a bottle filled of holy water. The special effects her are so seamless that I have trouble discerning whether it’s makeup or CGI. That’s a great thing.

headbitewithwater

Dracula then starts to move toward Luke and Elizabeth. Luke then yells about the knotted net, surely that will keep Dracula at bay! Dracula looks down at it, and with a simple twist and flick of his finger, and voila! the net comes undone and all the knots disappear. Suddenly all those previous shots of Dracula looking forlornly down and pawing at the knotted net make sense. He was just figuring out the math of it, like a puzzle. It’s deliciously ridiculous.

In my favorite scene, Luke yells to Elizabeth “but he can’t move on without counting the seeds!” and Dracula casually looks around at the ground, then tells him exactly how many are present. Thinking on his feet, Luke starts throwing more seeds at him, but before they hit the ground Dracula has already counted them – like the prodigy Little Man Tate looking up at the trees and counting the spaces between the leaves. Okay, that was a random reference but it’s seriously what I thought of when I saw this scene.

putting the 'count' in Count Dracula

putting the ‘count’ in Count Dracula

Some housekeeping items: Roy Schneider makes a cameo, Ufizi quickly dispatches Lowell, and Father Ufizi and Dracula finally battle it out… for about one minute. There is a nice flashback to when Dracula was Judas Iscariot. The final twist comes when Elizabeth, who is now full bore vampiress, defeats Ufizi with a harpoon gun, but not before Dracula demonstrates the most badass putting on of a duster, ever. Dracula and Elizabeth run off into the sunset, a love story to be continued in the third installment of the Dracula series, Dracula III: Legacy (2005).

Bonus: as the credits roll, your ears are filled with the delightful song called “Do You Know My Name” which is one of the best Marilyn Manson impersonations I’ve heard since Marilyn Manson’s last album.

Another bonus:  Count Dracula and Elizabeth Blaine’s love story fan vid set to Beyonce’s Sweet Dream