DRACULA RISING, shot in Bulgaria by Fred Gallo (DEAD SPACE), might have been seen in the year of Francis Coppola’s BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA as a timely follow-up for Roger Corman’s FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND, perhaps as an alternative to adpating Brian W. Aldiss’s novel Dracula Unbound. A combination of the weary reincarnation-of-the-vampire’s-lost-love theme with the good vampire/bad vampire polarity familiar from straight-to-video derivatives (TO DIE FOR, NIGHTLIFE, etc) even before INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE got filmed, DRACULA UNBOUND is a derivative little picture, indifferent overall but spasmodically intriguing.
In Romania to restore a portrait of Vlad the Impaler, heroine Stacy Travis (HARDWARE) flashes back to an earlier life where she fell for Vlad’s monk son (DIE WATCHING’s Christopher Atkins) and got burned for witchcraft, prompting her lover to accept the family curse and become a vampire. Atkins tries to get it right this time round but another ex‑monk vampire (Doug Wert) causes trouble. Despite Zahari Vatahov’s unusual Dracula (a masked barbarian rather than a suave Devil), this suffers from bland prettyboy Atkins and feeble jokes (‘we like to call this blood lite’).
The climactic magic duel, taking place in a semi-ANGRY RED PLANET look pink-lit void with skulls on poles, harks back to Corman’s THE RAVEN before doing a bat attack stunt from Hammer’s KISS OF THE VAMPIRE. The weird sound mix (at least on this disc) mutes Ed Tomney’s score, lending it a droning/dreamlike KEEP/ VAMPYR feel that still boils down to being rather dull. Co-writer Rodman Flender, later director of THE UNBORN and IDLE HANDS, might have made more of the film than Gallo.
From a DVD review published in Video Watchdog