Sunday, 5 February 2012

04/02/2012: Subspecies [1991]

Vampires. One of the oldest creatures in horror with a thousand variations, mythos and rules. Countless horror movies and even other genres tell different stories of the creatures of the night, those who live off the blood of the living. From the great Dracula movies of early film making vampires, have evolved into some amazing stories, but sadly vampire movies aren't what they used to be. Subspecies however gives us the true vampire, a castle dwelling monster, drooling blood and sporting a cape.

Today's vampire movies are all over the board, you've got vampires coming out of the coffin, vampires farming humans, vampires bringing about the apocalypse and unfortunately vampire's who sparkle and want to get married. Subspecies however gave us a vampire to fear, to coil from in disgust and to give us nightmares.
My what long finger nails you have, and what sharp fangs.
I think this is the only scene he's not drooling in.

From back in 1991, (when movies were still square), Full Moon Entertainment gives us Radu Vladislas a vampire with nearly foot long fingers, a raspy voice, and apparently so powerful even a good staking won't stop him. Radu has returned to his families castle in order to kill his father, King Vladislas and take control of the Bloodstone, said to drip the blood of all Saints. However Stephan shows up to stop Radu's attempt to seize power. Meanwhile a trio of girls show up, two Americans and a local Romanian, to study the area's local lore and explore the ruins.

One of the best things about Subspecies is that the set is all real. Nothing is constructed in a warehouse. Subspecies was the first American movie to be filmed in Romania. Full Moon Entertainment went right to the source of vampires Transylvania and used the ruined castles and local culture to add an element that no other vampire film truly captured.

It's real, complete with all the dust, secret passageways and vampire crypts a movie could need.
 Subspecies thrives on the atmosphere created by the locals, with the Festival of the Undead being an amazing scene with locals dressed up and celebrating. The castles itself are a nice mix of ruined and collapsed passageways and grand halls and rooms. Unfortunately no one ever thought to ask " Hey why are all the candles and fireplaces in this abandoned castle lit?"

When it comes to vampires, Subspecies takes some of the best concepts and throws them together to create its own recipe. First off, I've been trying to figure out why this movie is called Subspecies in the first place. I have two theories, 1: While I may consider an immortal, supernatural, and superstrengthed being to be a step up the evolutionary ladder, the movie may look upon vampires themselves as a subspecies of mankind, seeing as, at least in this vampire recipe, vampirism requires a human host. 2: Clearly the long fingered Radu is not your average vampire, and he himself is a subspecies of vampire. Such are my theories.

The vampire recipe is a good mix however. You've got sleeping in coffins, moving as a shadow, cast no reflection, the good old stake through the heart and thank god no sparkling and frolicking in the sunlight. I must say one of the confusing points is the daylight because sometimes the vampires appear to be out roaming the forests before the sun goes down, or other times they are fleeing from the tiniest ray. I think this mainly has to do with the trouble of filming at night, so just assume if Radu is out the sun is down.

Silver bullets, wooden bullets, U.V. bullets. I'd thought I'd seen it all until this guy creates Rosary beads shotgun shells. All the goodness of wood, the shotgun and the power of Christ compelling you.
Of course, Subspecies doesn't only feature Radu, it also has a couple other vampires who aren't evil. While the King is killed in the opening of the movie, Radu's brother Stefan takes up the fight. Stefan however looks human, unlike the weird halfbreed Radu apparently is. Along with Stefan is our three female leads, who are really just there to get caught up in the middle of the vampire blood feud.

So these little devils used to be Radu's fingers... It's a new one in the vampire rule book.
The acting is not anything to be recognized in this movie but if your watching it for that reason you're really barking up the wrong tree, (thought of trying tickling the wrong fang there but...). The 3 girls are there for eye candy, and I loved the Romanian one's sexy accent, but I'm glad they replaced Michelle's actress for the sequels. Oh yes, there are 3 sequels and a spin-off and I have them all.

So in conclusion, Subspecies is not your triple A, big budget vampire horror classic. It is however something, and that something is good. Be you a fan of vampires that don't sparkle, 90's horror films, Full Moon Entertainment, or want to see an interesting use of stop motion (Screenshot 4) Subspecies is the movie for you and I can already tell you the sequel is as good.

Bonus question: How many times did I bash Twilight in this review?

Subspecies IMDB

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