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Interview : Patrick Lussier

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Everyone’s favourite bloodsucker is returning to put the bite back into celluloid with two new direct-to-video sequels, "Dracula II : Ascension" and "Dracula III: Legacy", following on from "Dracula 2000". Director of the films, Patrick Lussier, gave Moviehole some of his time to talk about the two films, as well as his work with Wes Craven and the current trend in direct to video sequels.

How did you get involved in the Dracula sequels – initially interested?

After Dracula 2000 opened and turned out to be successful for the studio, Bob Weinstein decided he’d like to do a DVD sequel. Based on the original concept that Joel Soisson and I had pitched for D2K. The original idea was the opening heist of Dracula 2000 attached to what has now become Drac II: Ascension. That idea was discarded during the development of the original because the powers that be thought it would be too claustrophobic for a feature. Instead we made a much more traditional updating of Dracula. Now when Drac II came along, Nick and Andrew Rona guided Joel and I back into our original story with a desire to include a character that was written into the D2K screenplay but ultimately cut: Uffizi, the Vatican vampire hunter.In both Dracula II and III the role is played wonderfully by Jason Scott Lee.

The rest of the cast filtered in from both sides of the pond. Diane Neal and Roy Scheider from NY and Brande Roderick, Khary Peyton, and Craig Sheffer from L.A. John Light, who plays Eric, came from London. His audition was the best. He was offered to read for Dracula, Luke and Eric. He chose Eric and was amazing. He blew us away. We even wrote more things for him to do after his audition. John made so much more out of the character than what was written.

Nick Phillips also is in Dracula 2 and really shines. I think he has a big acting career ahead of him. Maybe even his own TV show. Keep an eye out.

You’ve worked with Wes Craven previously. how was that?

Wes is great. He’s such a solid filmmaker and has been a great mentor to me over the years. I’ve learned a lot about filmmaking from both a creative sense and a practical application.

What’s the better film of the next two drac sequels?

It depends on who you ask.Nick will say 3, Andrew will say 2 and that’s pretty much how it goes with any group that’s seen them. Both films are so different from each other. Drac II is a claustrophic film about trying to harvest immortality in the face of contained evil, Drac III is a nightmarish road odyssey across Romania of the near future, where vampire are gradually taking over.

Where did the script change, if it did. ever consider putting characters from dracula 2000 in the new ones?

The script for 2 changed much more than 3 (there was barely time to write 3 let alone change it). Drac 2 had some bigger set pieces in the script, an investor character who was an aging rockstar, a blood heist, a hospital set piece – etc. Things that were written out or changed mostly for budgetary reasons.

We had considered writing in characters from D2K. At one time we talked about bringing either Jonny Lee Miller’s character or Nathan Fillion’s back for 3. It just didn’t work out that way, unfortunately.

What can we expect with the DVD?

There’s a commentary track from Joel Soisson, myself and Gary Tunnecliffe our special effects make up artist. Gary did an excellent job at creating Dracula for Drac 2, starting with a charred husk and gradually regenerating him over the course of the picture.

There’s also deleted scenes and cast auditions where you can see why we chose who we chose.

You did some work on TV’s Highlander. You working on the new film?

Yeah I cut 3 episodes of Highlander back in ’93. They were a lot fun. I’m not working on the film although it’s something Joel and I have talked about from time to time.

You obviously like horror – any more horror features in your future?

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