Subspecies (1991)

It’s the Voice of the Friend I Just Buried, Alive and Well Now!

The reviews for today (and the next three days) come from a request from my friend Chris.  Apparently, the last movie I reviewed for him from the Make a Wish foundation cured him of his broken leg and now he seems intent on living a long and healthy life.  That’s nice and everything, but now he can continue to request movies of me.  Damn my healing abilities!  Anyway, the movies he requested are in a series of four movies that I (and probably most people) have never heard of, being a direct to video series of movies.  As another series of four movies about vampires, I felt it necessary to spread these reviews out a little bit from the Twilight series, even though there being four of them and them being about vampires is about all of the comparisons that can be made between these two series.  Having the days off to finally do these reviews, I was able to sit down and review Subspecies, written by Jackson Barr, David Pablian, and Ted Nicolaou, directed by Ted Nicolaou, and starring Anders Hove, Michael Watson, Angus Scrimm, Laura Tate, Irina Movila, Michelle McBride, Mara Grigore, Adrian Valcu, and Ivan J. Rado.

The vampire Radu (Anders Hove) kills his father, King Vladislas (Angus Scrimm), to gain possession of the ancient Bloodstone, a relic that drips fruit punch … or blood.  It’s really hard to tell.  A little while later, three college students – Mara (Irina Movila), Michelle (Laura Tate), and Lillian (Michelle McBride) – come to Romania to study their culture and superstitions.  While there, they befriend Stefan (Michael Watson), a student who is studying nocturnal animals … OR IS HE?!  Nope, he’s Radu’s brother, the one who embraces humanity, unlike his evil brother.  Stefan also starts falling for Michelle.  When Radu finds out about this, he determines to turn the three girls into his concubines as a big “fuck you” to his brother.

I think I thought much more of this movie when I thought it was from the 80’s.  When I saw that it came out in ’91, I started thinking that the film quality and production value probably should’ve been higher.  The look is probably the worst thing about this movie, though it’s somewhat forgivable because it was made cheaply.  Some of the shots are too dark to see what we’re looking at, and others (like Radu’s little finger-minions) you wish were too dark to see.  Besides those little finger demons, everything else (that you could see) looked pretty good.  They had some interesting uses of shadow, like when Radu’s shadow would retreat from a room when threatened.  The story itself was a little light, but still pretty interesting.  The synopsis paragraph up there is pretty much everything you need to know about the whole story.  Radu takes over, hates his brother, feeds on three girls.  But that’s pretty much all that a vampire story really requires, isn’t it?  There’s a vampire, and it eats people.  I know some people might think that it would also need a love triangle between it, a dog, and a simpleton, but that’s just not the case.  There is a little bit of a love story here, but not a very strong one (and that’s the way I likes it!).  Stefan inexplicably falls in love with Michelle, even though they’ve had very few interactions since their meeting two days ago.  But that story is very secondary, perhaps even tertiary.  As a good vampire movie, you should endeavor to have the main focus of the story be on the vampire eating people and the humans trying to kill it.  That part of the story is well done.  Except for maybe two parts that annoyed me.  First off, one of the girls sees the vampire (that they’ve seen before, and they all ran from), but this time she decides to take a picture first.  Don’t worry, she gets killed for her stupidity.  I love Darwinism.  Later, Michelle does the same stupid thing we’ve all seen in vampire and zombie movies before.  She’s in the safety of a church and she hears the voice of her friend, so she runs out to her and gets captured.  The problem here is that she buried this same friend not more than a couple of hours ago.  What is whatever Light Bright you’re using as a brain telling you?  “Oh, it’s the voice of my friend that I just buried, alive and well now.  Guess that was my mistake.  Let’s go say ‘hi’ and see that there is no way there could be anything different about her – or her teeth – at all!”

Anders Hove – but his friends call him HOVA – was a pretty convincing vampire.  He was appropriately creepy and menacing, with make up effects to make him pale and grotesque, with long fingers ending at pointed claws.  If I had a criticism to give him (and I do), it would be that I didn’t like the whisper/rasp to his voice.  It made him a little hard to understand in parts, so sometimes I had to really struggle to figure out what he was saying.  Michael Watson never really did anything of interest to me.  The three girls played their parts adequately, especially Irina Movila and Michelle McBride, because they each got some boobs out.  I consider that a necessity in my B-movie horror flicks.

That’s one down, three more to go.  A little more production value would’ve been appreciated, but it wasn’t a total loss.  Lots of blood and a couple of good camera tricks kept the movie visually appealing in spite of the overabundance of darkness in a couple of scenes and some pretty awful animation on Radu’s tiny minions.  Anders Hove was a pretty good vampire, but the only other performances that made an impact were those of two of the actresses breasts.  A decent enough watch, but probably one you can live without as well.  Subspecies gets “Good enough” out of “It’s hard to find quotes for cult movies.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!