Customer Review

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vampires of Romania, February 21, 2012
This review is from: Subspecies The Complete Chronicles (DVD)
Ah, vampire B-movie schlock. Not big blockbusters starring Anne Rice vamps or Stephenie Meyer sparklepires, but lower-budget affairs splattered with blood.

One of the best examples of the genre is "Subspecies," a movie series with a genuinely creepy villain and lots of atmosphere. "Subspecies The Complete Chronicles" brings together all four "Subspecies" movies -- plus a delightfully goofy spinoff film, "Vampire Journals" -- following the vampire Radu's pursuit of a pretty but utterly useless American girl.

"Subspecies" introduces us to the evil, ghoulish Radu (Anders Hove), a vampire who murders his own father to gain the mystical Bloodstone. Three grad students are visiting nearby in a small Romanian village, and Radu takes the opportunity to attack them. But his sensitive brother Stefan and an elderly Romanian man are out to save the day!

"Subspecies II: Bloodstone" has Michelle (Denise Duff) escaping to Bucharest with the Bloodstone, and calling on her sister Becky (Melanie Shatner) for help. But Radu is determined to find her -- and now he has his dusty "mummy" to help him. "Subspecies III: Bloodlust" has Michelle back in Radu and Mummy's grasp, transported back to the remote castle. As she's educated in the ways of the vampire, she begins to slip into darkness... and Radu begins to fall in love.

"Subspecies: Bloodstorm" deposits Michelle in the care of a very creepy doctor who claims to be able to cure her vampirism. Meanwhile, Radu descends on one of his fledglings, the music-loving Ash (Jonathon Morris) at his casino in Bucharest, seeking a place to stay while he reclaims his "pretty one."

And "Vampire Journals" is TECHNICALLY a spinoff, but except for the character of Ash, it has little in common with the other movies. Tortured vampire Zachary (David Gunn) is determined to kill all vampires of his bloodline, including Ash. But when Ash targets a beautiful pianist, Zachary will risk everything to save her -- including his life.

"Subspecies" is a pretty cheesy piece of work -- lots of naked boobs, goopy blood and hilarious death scenes (head-stab to death! Dismemberment! Decapitation!) permeate the series. However, it's a fun kind of cheesy. It's the kind of cheesy that you want to get popcorn for, rather than scoffing at -- and it's definitely more hardcore than "Twilight."

The movies do have their ups and downs, though. "Subspecies" is a fun, fun movie; "Bloodstone" and "Bloodlust" have their flaws (Michelle's total uselessness, mainly), but they are still entertaining little horror movies with the same overall tone. There's lots of Romanian castles and clubs, rural festivals and vampire attacks, and director Ted Nicolaou keeps each movie flowing from one to the next.

The problem is "Bloodstorm," which is an abomination in every way -- continuity, characterization, tone and even makeup are hideously disrupted. What about "Vampire Journals"? Well... it's pretty awful. But it's fun in its pretentious neo-gothic/romantic Anne-Ricean style.

The characters, however, are a mixed bag. Hove is a deliciously disgusting villain, with his stringy fingers, ghoulish face and drooling mouth. But he also manages to inject some pathos into Radu in "Bloodlust," where we see the vampire starting to grow sad. Shatner is quite good as a strong, independent heroine who just wants to rescue her sister, and Morris is quite elegant as Ash (even if he always sounds like he's swooning).

Sadly, Denise Duff's Michelle does little other than cry, scamper around whining, crying and hanging around Bucharest clubs in increasing gothic clothing. You'll get tired of her fast; the character is much better when played by Laura Tate. Stefan is possibly the wimpiest vampire in existence (he's immobilized by a NET), and "Mummy" may actually be a mummy that someone dug up and put on puppet strings.

"Subspecies The Complete Chronicles" brings together the good, the bad, and the grotesquely ugly in this series. Three movies are good, one is horrendous, and one is a campy funfest -- definitely worth watching for fans of cheese.
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