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Dracula III: Legacy (2005)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

DRACULA III: LEGACY (2005)

Starring: Rutger Hauer, Jason Scott Lee, Jason London, Alexandra Wescourt, Roy Scheider

Written By: Joel Soisson, Patrick Lussier Directed By: Patrick Lussier

The Short Version

Not a standalone flick; just the second half of the previous one.

Despite that, Dracula III takes forever to get to the point.

The final ten-ish minutes are quite interesting.

The stuff that comes before is quite dull.

Dracula III: Legacy isn’t worthwhile unless one has already watched Dracula II and for some reason feels obligated to see how it ends.


The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

FAT FREE CREAM CHEESE WITH CHIVES.

It would a completely useless, flavorless bore if not for that tiny kick at the finish.


Pairs Well With...

MOUNTAIN CREEK.

Cheap beer made specifically for those who do not give a damn about taste; they just want a lot of it to make it through the night at bargain basement prices.

“I hate this… I hate this… I really hate this… Shit.”


Let’s be real about this: calling this or any film Dracula III is an absurd notion on its face.  The character of Dracula has been adapted for the screen more often than any other save for Sherlock Holmes; even a title like Dracula 123 wouldn’t be enough.  Nor is it a logical third installment of a tale that begins with Bram Stoker’s original; rather, it’s third in a line that started with Patrick Lussier’s Virgin Megastore tribute film, Dracula 2000.  Or maybe it’s better to think of it as Part 2.5.  The numbers start getting fuzzy after a while.

Regardless of how one chooses to classify things, though, the fact is that each part is a worse standalone experience than the last, so that when one gets to Dracula III, it’s reasonable to demand that any self-respecting horror fan have an excuse at the ready for why he or she would even want to bother with it.

“It” is a story set in the “near future.”  There’s a civil war in Romania, and peacekeepers are having a hard time keeping the peace.  Peasants are being taken away from their villages, never to be seen again, and rebel leaders are demanding that anyone who wants to be recognized as a true government official make at least one public appearance in daylight.  Hmm… think they know something that the UN and journalists from the “EBC” don’t know?

Someone, at least, is betting on it.  That someone is Father Uffizi (Jason Scott Lee, Tale of the Mummy), who, along with newfound sidekick Luke (Jason London, Showdown at Area 51), who has defied orders from his masters in the Vatican to come to Romania in search of his nemesis, Dracula (Rutger Hauer, Omega Doom).  Sure, he won’t catch a really good whiff of him until well into the third act, but audiences are patient, right?  Right?  Hmm… Good luck with that…

All right, guys; I have a confession to make.  I actually own this movie.  But hey, I have an excuse.  Of course I do.  After all, it can easily be argued that Patrick Lussier’s two sequels to Dracula 2000 are more tightly bound to their built-in excuses than they are their plotlines.

In the case of Dracula II: Ascension, there were two excuses:

1)  It’s called Dracula II.  This can be called the “original excuse.”

2)  With newer DVD/Blu Ray pressings, it now comes as part of a larger bundle of several movies on a single disc, so anyone who owns the disc might as well watch them all, right?  (Note: This is my excuse for owning both Dracula II and III.)

When one advances up the chain to Dracula III, the number of excuses increases… as does the need to use them, because if I haven’t made it clear enough already, I’ll tell you right now: this flick is lame.

1)  It’s called Dracula III.  This has moved on to being a lame excuse, given Dracula II.

2)  With newer DVD/Blu Ray pressings, it now comes as part of a larger bundle of several movies on a single disc, so anyone who owns the disc might as well watch them all, right?  Of all the possible excuses, this is probably the most valid, assuming the caveat presented in Excuse #3.

3)  You saw Dracula II, and since it turns out that Dracula III isn’t really its own movie, but rather the second half of the story that started in Dracula II (they were filmed simultaneously), you’ll never know how the previous story really ended unless you watch this one.  This excuse used to be “bad money after good,” but given Excuse #2, it works.  Indeed, if you haven’t seen the previous flick, then Dracula III is completely and utterly pointless no matter what bundle it comes with.

4)  Rutger Hauer is in it!  While I understand Rutger Hauer fandom – I’m a fan myself – the fact is that he doesn’t even show up until the last ten minutes-ish of the movie.  Yes, they’re the best minutes-ish of the movie, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that this is anything but stunt casting meant to reel in suckers and secure distribution agreements while video stores were enjoying their last gasp at relevance.  (The same holds true for Roy Scheider, who has exactly one scene early on in the film; I’d be shocked if he spent more than one day on set, inclusive of the time it took to film his one scene for the last movie.)

Pretty flimsy, aren’t they?  The strongest excuse there counts on a viewer having seen the previous sequel… and actually wanting more.  That, my friends, makes for a special kind of audience.  Specifically, it makes for an audience that had better have a whole lot of cheap beer at the ready.

The first hour-plus of Dracula III is essentially useless, even if you have seen what came before.  Our heroes kill time wandering about Romania, getting nowhere near either Dracula or anyone else that they might have cause to be looking for, and actively dismissing what had been some of the series’ best lore up until this movie.  Sure, they find some rebels and bandits and vanguard vamps along the way, but this plays as nothing more than spinning wheels while everyone waits for the real show to happen.  (That, by the way, is a disadvantage to making a Dracula film: any other vampires who show up before the big guy does feel like a waste of time.)  Even the circus act vampires – which I can imagine being quite interesting in a different movie – fall flat.  There’s a “budding romance” that’s supposed to be grabbing everyone’s attention, but that rings false from the very first minute as an extremely transparent plot device that has no real in-story spark, and even less chemistry between the two performers involved.  Indeed, until our heroes finally go inside Castle Dracula roughly halfway through the third act, I can’t think of a single thing that goes right with Dracula III.  All of it is a pointless disaster.

But then…

Suddenly, our director, Patrick Lussier, who is capable of so much better than what’s been playing up to this point, appears to wake up.  Suddenly, there’s an atmosphere.  Suddenly, Dracula III picks up the story that audiences have been expecting it to tell from the start.  Suddenly, there’s a truckload of nudity (which frankly needed to happen way earlier in the film, before the audience started dropping off to sleep).  And most importantly of all, Rutger Hauer shows up as Dracula.

Yeah, I know I called it “stunt casting,” and it is – Hauer appears for only two and a half scenes for what might amount to five minutes or so of screen time.  Nevertheless, it’s stunt casting that saves Dracula III.  (And for those who forgot from the previous films, Lussier and Company get away with recasting the role every time because Dracula apparently “regenerates” into different forms a-la Doctor Who.)

Rutger Hauer is no stranger to the master vampire’s role – he’d played it before this film and he’d go on to play it again – and he approaches it here with an air of amused but tired authority.  It’s obvious that he knows just what kind of picture he’s in, but like the true pro that he is, he still makes a great go of it, and his presence is such that it extends credibility to everything else that happens from the moment that he first appears onward, whether he’s still on screen or not.  Indeed, the resulting scenes are of such higher quality than everything that’s come before that they feel like they belong to a different movie… a movie that I would have been happy to recommend.  But no, they’re stuck at the end of this movie in the fashion of a really yummy cookie that’s offered as a reward for plowing through a platter full of poorly cooked gruel first.  And however much I like what Hauer does here, and however much I like what Lussier and his co-writer Joel Soisson do to cap off the story (probably the only ending that could have worked, and it’s not the obvious one), I just can’t in good conscience ask anyone to put up with all of that nasty, boring gruel to get there.

Bottom line, if you sat through Dracula II and really need to know how it ends, Dracula III might be worth a single viewing, provided that you’ve got plenty of beer on hand.  But beyond that, there’s just no excuse good enough to justify wasting your time with this flick.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, October, 2012


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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