Director – Ted Nicolaou
Cast – Anders Hove, Irina Movila, Michael Watson, Laura Mae Tate, Michelle McBride, Ivan J. Rado, Mara Grigore, Adrian Valcu, Angus Scrimm
Release Year – 1991
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I have never been a huge fan of Full Moon flicks, but this one interested me due to its plot and the fact that it included what appeared(from pictures) to be a really sweet looking vampire. Well, my perceptions of Full Moon films were elevated a bit thanks to this flick being a moderately enjoyable watch, thanks much to great gore and an iconic performance that leaves the film’s vampire as one of the greatest I have ever seen.
Subspecies centers on an evil vampire, Radu, who returns to his hometown after years of exile to claim his birthright, the bloodstone. The bloodstone is a unique stone said to contain the ever-bleeding blood of all saints, which provides immense power to its owner. Radu’s father, King Vladislav(Angus Scrimm; Phantasm series, I Sell The Dead), has given this birthright to Radu’s younger mortal step-brother Stefen due to Radu’s likeliness to abuse such power, and Radu not only manages to end the king’s life for his betrayal…but steals the bloodstone as well. Meanwhile, two American girls and a local counterpart studying Romanian history rent a room across from the late Vladislav’s castle, which immediately garners Radu’s attention. Thankfully for the girls, Stefan has taken a liking to them as well, and a battle of mortal vs. immortal ensues.
Honestly, I did not expect to enjoy this film very much, but went into the flick with an open mind and was somewhat rewarded for it. I am not the biggest fan of vampire films, so this one was going to have to grow on me if it was to please me. While the story was lacking a bit in keeping my interest, we get some fantastic execution from director Ted Nicolauo that saved this flick from being another lame Full Moon watch.
Right from the get-go we are thrown into amazing sets and atmosphere that definitely set a spooky visual tone for the film, and while most of the performances were bland at best, Anders Hove does an incredible job bringing Radu to screen. From the look of Radu you can see a blatant influence from the silent classic Nasferatu vampire, which I believe to be possibly the sweetest looking vampire of all time. This works well for the film, adding a creepy character to the film’s already creepy atmosphere, which I loved. We get some good live-action gore effects as well, which come in the form of a very cheezy thick mollasses-like blood, but live-action gore is live-action gore, and I’ll take it every time. The rest of Nicolauo’s direction is so-so, with the pacing suffering at times and coming with poor performances from everyone other than Anders Hove and the little-used(yet “starring”) Angus Scrimm, but his usage of atmosphere and Radu are what made this film.
Story-wise is where this film suffered the most, with numerous sequences that screwed the with the pacing and added more boredom than needed. The overall plot is OK, although I really loved the idea of the bloodstone being a stone that contained blood from all of the saints, mainly because I have never ever seen such an idea used before. Sadly, we get little background information on the bloodstone and it really does not have a big role in the film other than being the object the two step-brothers are fighting over. The character usage involving the protagonists of the film, the two Americans, the local, and Stefen could have been better written, but sadly I just found them to be a messy idea that was good to start with but slowly crumbled into nothing worth further mentioning. Much like the execution/direction of the film, the only good thing about the story is the usage of Radu, who has to be one of the most diabolical vampires I have ever seen. He is “cold” as ever, and delivers the utmost in creepiness not merely due to Anders Hove’s performance, but how well his dialogue and character was written. With a film as one-sided as this one, it is insane that it would receive a borderline-positive 6-rating, but Radu was just THAT awesome.
Overall, this is a cool watch thanks to its great atmosphere and fantastic antagonist. The comes with several faults and many dull moments thanks to its story, but Radu saves the day and keeps this film a very negative rating.