Sunday, October 19, 2014

Subspecies (1991)

Director: Ted Nicolaou

Writers: Charles Band, Jackson Barr, David Pabian

Composers: Stuart Brotman, Richard Kosinski, William Levine, Michael Portis, John Zeretzke

Starring: Angus Scrimm, Anders Hove, Irina Movila, Laura Mae Tate, Michelle McBride, Ivan J. Rado, Mara Grigore, Adrian Valcu, Michael Watson, Lili Dumitrescu, Ion Besoiu

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The night has fangs.

Plot: 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.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No. 

I've had a lot of love and respect for Full Moon since I discovered them in the mid-to-late 80s.  This low budget horror/sci-fi film making studio has put out some really fun film but they've also made some stinkers.  This one's been on my radar for over twenty years and here we are. It's not quite what I expected but then I didn't know anything about the picture except for the poster/video cover box which prominently features these neat little demon dudes. One thing I LOVE about Full Moon is their use of stop motion animation.  It's a costly technique but it's really effective, even when used sparingly as they do.  The demons are really neat but they're not given much screen time and I suppose that's largely due to the cost of animating them.  Filming this in Romania goes a long way the establishing a nice atmosphere.  But what really hurts this is not shooting this on film.  And it doesn't help that the score sometimes feels like an afterthought as if the composers, director or studio (or all) weren't sure what to do.  Story wise its a variation on the Dracula tale.  You're not getting anything all that new here but the Bloodstone is cool as are the little red guys.  Even at about 90 minutes it feels twenty two long.  I've got the box set and I'll bang through the next two sequels.  The fullscreen image is accompanied by a behind the scenes Videozone that's about ten minutes.  These are welcome extras on Full Moon's releases.  In such a short time you find out a lot including seeing footage of the original subspecies as humans in costume.  It's clear why they went with stop motion and puppetry after that.  The only other extras are trailers (all anamorphic widescreen) for EVIL BONG 3, GINGERDEAD MAN 3, KILLJOY 3, SKULL HEADS, DEMONIC TOYS 2, PUPPET MASTER: AXIS OF EVIL.

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