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The evil vampire villain Radu returns to his hometown Prejnar, after spending years in exile. He steals the precious blood stone which is said to be bleeding from all saints, from his father and kills him. Meanwhile two American schoolgirls team up with a local girl for work on Romanian culture. Radu becomes attracted to them but runs into trouble when his brother Stephan helps the girls.
For more about Subspecies and the Subspecies Blu-ray release, see Subspecies Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 2, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Angus Scrimm, Anders Hove, Irina Movila
Director: Ted Nicolaou
» See full cast & crew
Subspecies Blu-ray Review
'Subspecies' appears on Blu-ray as a subpar release.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 2, 2011
For as low-budget, shoddily-made, hastily-assembled, badly-scripted, and poorly-acted as it may be, there's a charm to the simplicity that makes up Subspecies, a Vampire movie that's partially original and laudable for filming in an authentic Eastern European locale. Otherwise, the movie is a forgettable time-killer that's somewhat entertaining but little more, a movie that's terribly clichéd but that works well enough to be considered a worthy entry into the Vampire genre. Unfortunately, the problems do stack up, and even though the movie runs on little more than fumes, a wing, a prayer, and all that jazz, it takes audiences from point A to point B effectively enough, though no doubt many viewers will ultimately be let down by the many missed opportunities that become obvious by the time the film wraps up.
In a dark gothic castle, a power struggle between vampiric father and son is about to commence. Young Radu (Anders Hove) believes his time to acquire great power is at hand, but his father Vladislav (Angus Scrimm) disagrees; his son is too power-mad and entrusting him with the sacred Blood Stone would be a great disservice to the family and the world at large. Vladislav is forced to imprison his own son, but Radu gets the better of his father and, with the help of several newly-created minions, escapes from his cage, murders his father, and schemes to secure the great power he believes to be his birthright. Meanwhile, three young students -- Mara (Irina Movila), Michele (Lara Tate), and Lillian (Michelle McBride) -- arrive in the ancient town of Prejnar to further their studies. They come to know a young local expert on the town's history of vampirism, Stefan (Michael Watson), who immediately bonds with Michele. Unfortunately, the girls's lives are about to become entangled in Radu's scheme to rise to power, but little do they know what fate holds in store for them or how their new friend Stefan fits into the ever-evolving plot.
It's difficult to tell whether "subspecies" refers to the vampires themselves or the little stop motion "finger puppet," for lack of a better term (and that will make more sense upon viewing the movie), minions that aid the vampire Radu in his escape and do, well, pretty much nothing else for the remainder of the movie (note that the film's behind-the-scenes feature calls the miniature minions "subspecies"). Ultimately, Subspecies comes down to a blood battle between the powers of good and evil, both born of evil but fighting one another to protect, preserve, and champion all for which they stand, be it all-encopassing power for freedom from the terrors of the night. It's all very basic stuff, right down to the shadowy gothic overtones and the trio of in-play innocent girls, one of whom is held captive and whose shirt is conveniently torn just so in the process so as to allow certain taboo parts of her female anatomy to be exposed for the duration of her imprisonment. Unfortunately, it's all so slathered in cliché that the movie just can't escape the clutches of dull unoriginality, but for whatever reason(s) is proves a likable enough endeavor.
Perhaps its the smooth direction or intriguing Romanian filming locales that make Subspecies a tolerable venture, because it's sure not the acting. While Anders Hove seems to relish the opportunity to walk around with lengthy prosthetics attached to his fingers and blood usually dripping from his mouth, the supporting cast fails to really do much of anything with their parts, though once again it's a case whereby a lousy script no doubt at least hindered, if not completely suffocated, the viability of the performances. When there's this little originality and when every line is straight out of the Vampirism for the Silver Screen in the Late 20th Century For Dummies guidebook, one can't really expect more than low-level efforts. The stop motion effects are a strength; the little demonic figures look quite good but are used far too infrequently to the point of serving as mere afterthoughts to the primary plot elements of vampiric transformation and supernatural combat. Otherwise, the production values are fair and the location shots are fantastic in terms of setting the film's atmosphere.
Subspecies Blu-ray, Video Quality
Subspecies arrives on Blu-ray with a disappointing 1080i, 1.77:1-framed transfer. Positives are few; colors are decent and general details are acceptable, but there's simply not much to love about this image. It's frequently soft and fuzzy, and its flattened texture suggests some level of noise reduction. Intermittent speckling appears over the image, while noise and blocky backgrounds thrive. Blacks are sometimes washed out and gray, and whites are often overblown. While detailing is at times fair, it's also substandard. Where there should be wonderfully intricate textures -- stone walkways, grasses, rough European building façades -- there's a disappointing flatness. The transfer's greatest strength is its stability on larger displays; it'll hold up far better than a DVD. Fans hoping for a miracle don't get it, and while the transfer is a letdown, there's no doubt it could have been worse.
Subspecies Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Subspecies makes its high definition debut with a low definition soundtrack. Full Moon's Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation is certainly no great shakes, but despite a host of problems, it at least gets the job done. The track is generally flat with a harsh low end despite a sufficient level of raw power. Sound effects are chunky at best, playing with a detached, demoralized feel. Music is adequately delivered, enjoying passable clarity but certainly lacking in a greater sense of crispness and realism. The most troubling element stems from dialogue reproduction; while the spoken word is often clear, the delivery is highly unbalanced, the track haphazardly pushing words through either side of the soundstage with no real purpose, rhyme, or reason. Much like the video presentation, this audio track isn't a disaster, but no doubt fans were hoping for a little more, even from a twenty-year-old low budget film such as this.
Subspecies Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
All that's included with this Blu-ray release of Subspecies, aside from an assortment of Full Moon trailers, is Video Zone (480p, 9:55), a vintage piece that looks at the splendor and benefits of the shooting locales, the challenges of an American crew filming in a post-Communism and revolutionary Romania, the assembled cast, the makeup and costumes, creating the subspecies characters, and Romanian vampire lore.
Subspecies Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Subspecies is more or less a superfluous Vampire film; it doesn't have the originality to be intriguing, the script to be good, or the budget to be a spectacle. However, it exudes an air of sincerity in wanting to make a good movie, and its atmosphere and locations are commendable. On top of that, there's a certain charm to the thing; whether it's Anders Hove's deliciously devious performance or just a case of a movie exceeding its meager origins and expectations matters not. Fans of this sort of movie will at least get a kick out of it; for most it's not going to go down as an all-time great within its genre, but it's a serviceably fun distraction that's worth a watch. Full Moon's third Blu-ray release yields a subpar technical presentation and only one supplement. Fans of the series and Charles Brand's handiwork will buy regardless, but newcomers or those concerned with the quality of the presentation should rent if at all possible before buying.
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Subspecies Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Subspecies: 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray - July 7, 2011
This month, Full Moon Pictures will release the cult horror favorite Subspecies on Blu-ray. A retelling of the vampire legend, Subspecies focuses on two American college students who get caught between feuding vampire brothers. The 20th Anniversary Edition of ...
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