I do not like Gothic vampire movies. I know I enjoy obscure horror films, but I just cannot t through any of them. For example, I have yet to see a Hammer film in its entirety due to my dislike of the sub-sub-genre, despite the incredible Christopher Lee in a majority of them. Now that you know this, you might be puzzled as to why I went pout and bought Subspecies on VHS. The answer is mple: It's a Full Moon Entertainment production! And when they make a film, they make it right. Is this a noteworthy vampire effort that deserves attention? Or should this be cast down to the...
Subspecies 1991 Review
A vampire king named Vlad (Angus Scrimm!) feels it is time to pass on the ancient bloodstone to his next in line for the throne, Stefan. However, his evil son, Radu, as come to claim the stone and plague the world with his evil. Radu (who has a serious drooling problem) kills Vlad, and waits for the night where he can take posseson of the bloodstone and rule the world.
Meanwhile, three beautiful American tourists arrive at the village where Vlad's castle is located to study the folklore of the area. Stefan also arrives, and learns about his brother's plans. Stefan falls in love with one of the tourists as he attempts to destroy his evil bling once and for all before Radu kills Stefan's love interest and takes over the world with his army of evil minions.
Subspecies is directed by Ted Nicolaou (TerrorVion), so naturally, I knew this was going to be at least decent. It was, and I enjoyed how he managed to turn completely around from a campy, fun sci-fi horror movie to a serious, spooky Gothic vampire film. That right there is the gn of a talented director. The acting is also really good, although I was disappointed with how short Angus Scrimm's screen time was. This is another example of a well-known actor getting top-billing, yet only appearing for a brief period of time (i.e. Brooke Shields in Alice Sweet Alice). Other than Scrimm, there aren't any renowned actors in the film, but I like how that added to the realism. Yes, there is some vampire/human romance, but don't expect this to be a proto-Twilight. It has a fair amount of bloodshed, and some genuinely creepy scenes. One scene that stands out to me is during the village parade. One of the women is watching it, when she notices a masked figure standing about eight feet in front of her and staring at her. In the middle of all these people, Radu takes off his mask, walks up to her, and I won't spoil it. I always find this part to be a great, creepy scene of vampire action. Another very eerie moment comes when the three friends are running away from Radu in the fog enshrouded forest, which still holds up to this day!
http://lh4.ggpht.com/_goOTcYF7VN4/TT4u88vOTOI/AAAAAAAAHh0/xTnj-MRB00Q/Subspecies5.JPG" class="photoborder" />
While there isn't too much bloodshed, the scenes we get are great and very realistic. In a majority of the scenes the evil vampire, Radu, is in, he always has drool hanging out of his mouth. I felt that to be repulve, and it really worked in the film's favor. The clasc Full Moon stop-motion effects are in full-swing here, and they're as great as always. Although I enjoyed the evil minions, I didn't feel any sense of danger from them and they weren't on-screen as much as they should be, so that sucked. To me, the Gothic atmosphere of the film is a lot like another Full Moon production, Castle Freak. I think I might enjoy Subspecies more than that film, but this would be way better if it had some Jeffrey Combs action going on. The vampire make-up is the third best I've seen of all the vamp-genre films (the first being Fright Night, the second being The Lost Boys). Radu is extremely creepy (the look is based off of Nosferatu), what with his very long fingernails and that grotesque, bloody drool. On another note, the set-degn is eerily fantastic, with your standard castle and torch light degn done very, very nicely.
If you love Gothic vampire movies, this is a must-see. Even if you hate the sub-sub-genre, check out Subspecies. As I stated in the opening, I despise all Gothic vampire movies, but I really like this. It has just enough camp to make it fun, and just enough creepy vampire scenes to get the Hammer fans by. The pace is fast, the effects are great, the acting is good, and the set-degn is just out of this world.
I know I probably have not convinced most Gothic vampire-haters to see this movie, but just do it. I had low-hopes for it as well, but now I find it to be highly enjoyable. I haven't seen any of the sequels, but after this effort, you can bet that's on my to-do list.