Dracula III: Legacy
December 15, 2005
Move over Blade, there is a new vampire franchise in town. Tired of slick, over-produced horror movies like Underworld (2003)? Look no further. Dracula III: Legacy (2005) is the latest installment in a surprisingly durable franchise. Director Patrick Lussier has been quietly picking up the slack from a now dormant John Carpenter by making straightforward, atmospheric B-horror movies.
When we last left Father Uffizi (Lee) and Luke (London), they had fought off a master vampire and are now on the trail of Dracula (Hauer) deep in the heart of Romania. Uffizi wants to kill the vampire and London wants to rescue Elizabeth (Neal), kidnapped at the end of Dracula II (2003). However, our heroes have additional obstacles to deal with: the country’s inhabitants are embroiled in a bitter civil war and this provides a nice bit of politics mixed in with the B-horror. By this installment, the film’s mythology has hit its stride, enabling Lussier to jump right in and dispense exposition as we go along.
Like Carpenter’s movies, Dracula III is a beautifully shot widescreen movie that is proficient without being too showy. It is a definite cut above the average B-horror movie. There are the occasional doses of humour but not enough to affect the overall mood of horror that pervades the movie. Lussier has a nice command of craft not usually seen in B-horror movies of this kind. Over these three movies he has become a more confident director. He knows how to properly compose his widescreen frame. The action sequences are more accomplished and the make-up effects are better. Shooting on location in Eastern Europe provides vintage architecture that gives the movie an authenticity in terms of setting that is not only interesting to look at but provides the appropriate gothic vibe.
Jason Scott Lee is surprisingly effective as a driven vampire hunter. Armed with a nasty looking scythe, he is a very efficient (and cool) killer of the undead. He wouldn’t be out of place in a Carpenter film as one of the auteur’s trademark, enigmatic men-of-action, like Snake Plissken in Escape from New York (1981). In contrast to Lee’s no-nonsense character, Jason London is the easy-going sidekick that provides the film’s doses of comic relief. These two actors have come a long way from films like Dragon (Lee) and Mallrats (London) to form an excellent duo.
Dracula III features a good balance of cool characters, the right amount of exposition and a beefed up vampire presence that was lacking from Dracula II. This last installment of the trilogy captures a modern gothic atmosphere beautifully, putting other contemporary Hollywood horror movies to shame. The heir apparent to John Carpenter’s legacy has been found and it should be interesting to see what Lussier does next.
There is an audio commentary by writer/director Patrick Lussier, producer/co-writer Joel Soisson and special makeup designer Gary Tunnicliffe. They point out that Dracula II and III were filmed together and then split-up as two movies. Shooting on location in Romania helped get the cast and crew into the right mood of this vampire movie. They talk about the challenges of working in Eastern Europe. For example, their stunt crew wasn’t too concerned about safety precautions resulting in some dicey moments. This is chatty track as the three men discuss their movie and the challenges of shooting on a budget.
“A Conversation with Patrick Lussier on the Mythology of Vampires.” The director was fascinated by the depiction of vampires all over the world and in particular Romania’s Vlad the Impaler and Bram Stoker’s take on the legend. He admits to picking and choosing certain rules from various books and films to suit his own movie.
“A Conversation with Special Makeup Designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe.” He talks about the hardships of working in the cold weather of Romania and how he had to ship in fake blood and reassemble the plastic weapons because they kept breaking in the cold weather.
“Cast Auditions” features footage of four of the supporting cast members who were taken from Europe. They give a brief run-down of their acting experience, show off their profile and then read from the script.
“Deleted Scene—Flat Tire” features our heroes fixing a flat tire and encountering some undead along the way.
Also included is an “Alternate Ending” that features a much more upbeat ending than what is in the existing version.
For dedicated fans of this franchise there are the original story treatments for all three movies that allow one to see them in their early stages and how Lussier initially envisioned them.
Finally, there are trailers for the first two Dracula movies.