Subspecies II

Discussion in 'High Def' started by Dave, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. Dave

    Dave Pimp

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] Reviewer: Dave
    Review Date: October 3, 2014

    Released by: Full Moon Pictures
    Release date: 5/21/2013
    MSRP: $19.95
    Region 0
    Progressive Scan
    Codec: AVC, 1080p
    Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
    1993


    "Never in a million years!" That would be my response if someone had told me the original Subspecies trilogy was going to be released onto bluray, and then told me that a newly recorded commentary track would be included. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened. While I always question the quality and effort on anything Full Moon does, I still can't help be impressed they are releasing onto bluray with actual HD prints.

    Anyone who read my review to the original Subspecies knows I'm a big fan. So how do the sequels stack up amongst fans? Lets take a look at the bluray release of the first sequel, Subspecies II: Bloodstone.

    The Story

    With the help of his subspecies minions, the vampire Radu (Anders Hove) returns and claims Michelle (Denice Duff) for himself. Daylight soon strikes and Radu is forced to return to his tomb. As night approaches, Michelle takes the bloodstone and hastily flees Radu's castle. A chase ensues as Radu hunts the frantic Michelle through the countryside. Michelle makes her way onto a train, which she takes to Bucharest. There she enters Hotel Bucharest and calls her sister, Rebecca (Melanie Shatner), in the United States. Michelle pleads for help and Rebecca promises to come to as soon as possible. With morning approaching, Michelle takes refuge in the hotel. Radu, now far from his own castle, seeks shelter with a nearby family member - his "Mummy" (Pamela Gordon) - a living, rotting corpse in a nearby cemetery crypt.

    Rebecca arrives at Hotel Bucharest where she is met by police officer Luietent Martin (Ion Haiduc) and U.S. embassy worker Mel Thompson (Kevin Spirtas). They explain that Michelle was believed to be dead, but was later seen leaving the scene of an accident. Rebecca and Mel enlist the help of Professor Popescu (Michael Denish). They travel to Castle Vladislav and begin exploring inside of the castle. It is here that they first get a glimpse of Radu, who demands they leave at once.

    Radu, determined to have Michelle, threatens her with the life of her sister. Michelle agrees to go with Radu in order to spare her sister's life. Professor Popescu and Rebecca gear up for some vampire hunting and head into the underground crypt of Radu's mummy. The two prove to be no match against Radu and his mummy. Michelle wants nothing more than to free her sister from Radu's grip; she manages to muster up enough courage to attack both Radu and his mummy. Michelle and Rebecca nearly escape, but daylight approaches and Michelle must remain in the crypt while her sister returns to the surface. Rebecca promises to return for her when night approaches. The movie closes with Michelle screaming for help as she is pulled back into the crypt by the mummy.
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    Every so often a sequel will come along that exceeds the original. Many will argue that movies like Godfather II and Aliens are superior to the original. I assert here and now that Subspecies II is vastly superior to the original. That's a big assertion considering how much I enjoyed the original. Lets discuss why I believe the sequel is superior.

    The original Subspecies has a slower pace than the sequel. The story hasn't fully developed until the movie is nearly over. This is normal, of course, but the sequel has the advantage of picking up right where the original left off. There are no characters or story to develop. The action and excitement quickly begin as Michelle flees the castle with Radu on her trail. It doesn't stop there. The entire movie is an exciting game of cat and mouse between Radu and Michelle.

    Excitement alone does not make a movie enjoyable. The characters in the sequel are superior to those in the original. Denice Duff is perfect in the role of Michelle. Her performance exceeds that of Laura Tate in the original. Denice flexes her acting muscles as she shows the great pain and suffering that Michelle is going through during her transformation into a vampire. The addition of Radu's "Mummy" (Is there anything greater than hearing him call her "Mummy"?) also works wonders for the movie. Not only did the effects crew do a solid job with her makeup, but we are given a character that is just as evil as Radu. Double your pleasure! Anders Hove returns as devilish Radu. While I'm still not fond of the voice he gives to Radu, I do love the menacing character that he portrays. Radu has that Nosferatu look to him, which is essential for a vampire. Anders does an admirable job and I cannot imagine anyone else filling the role in a greater manner.
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    We are again given beautiful visuals of Romania - castles, country landscapes, and the city of Bucharest. Again Director Ted Nicolaou makes great use of shadows in the movie, in addition to adding some nice color effects. They work well in a low budget movie. The shadows are used to give a sense of Radu traveling, which works much better than showing a fake looking bat of some sort. Keeping it simple works wonders.

    Subspecies II has a solid story, solid acting, wonderful effects, and beautiful scenery. Those who disliked the original should find themselves enjoying its superior sequel. It is not to be missed by horror or vampire fans. For Full Moon, the Subspecies series is the crem de la creme, and rightly so.

    Image Quality

    The bluray contains a new 16x9 high definition transfer. I asked diretor Ted Nicolaou what ratio the movie was shot for. His response: We shot for 1:33, protecting 1.85.. By protecting for 1.85:1 they were ensuring nothing critical would be lost when it was matted for theatrical / widescreen presentations. Matting in this instance should mean that non-crucial information is lost from the top and bottom of the image. While this is true on the bluray, there is information gained on the sides. Here's an example:

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    Laserdisc​
    Blu-ray​
    Framing issues aside, visually it looks excellent. The image is sharp and colors are vibrant. There's minor grain present at times but nothing distracting. Some dirt and specks are present but it's minimal. Overall I'm pleased with the transfer, in particular for Full Moon who had a history of VHS port DVD releases. I'm rating it a B+.

    Sound

    A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is included. There's little activity from surrounds or LFE. This isn't an action movie but more surround activity would have helped in some of the chase scenes at the beginning; not for the action, specifically, but rather the atmosphere. No other issues or concerns were heard. Dialogue is clear throughout the movie.

    It is worth pointing out that 88 Films in the UK releases all of the Full Moon movies with a lossless audio track for those interested.

    Supplemental Material

    Certainly the most anticipated feature of this bluray, minus the actual HD transfer, is the commentary track with director Ted Nicolaou and actors Anders Hove and Denice Duff. The three remain friends to this day and it was fun to hear them shares countless memories and anecdotes on the production. There's very few gaps of silence and in the few that are present, they catch themselves and admit they are fans of the movie and were getting "into" the movie.

    Full Moon's VideoZone, a short 'Making of' featurette included at the end of nearly every movie they've released onto home video, is also included on this bluray. It's in SD.

    The VideoZone begins with an introduction from Charles Band, owner of Full Moon Pictures. Charles discusses several projects Full Moon had in the works back then, such as Puppet Master 4 and 5 (also filmed back-to-back).

    The next segment is a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of Subspecies II. There is lots of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with both cast and crew. I always enjoy these - they share a few nice little stories about filming and being away from home. Following the Behind the Scenes materials is a 'Full Moon Spotlight' for actress Tracy Scoggins. She plays Judith in Dollman vs Demonic Toys - awful movie, awful actress. Concluding the Video Zone are a few trailers to other Full Moon movies.

    Full Moon fans love the VideoZone, and rightly so. It was a nice treat back when even laserdisc extras weren't all that common. This one here is no exception.

    New to this bluray is a 10 minute 'Recollections Of' featurette. It contains interviews with director Ted Nicolaou and actors Anders Hove and Denice Duff. This is in HD and was shot at the same time the commentary track was recorded. The three discuss the production and their characters. It's a fun, albeit short, segment where the highlight is found at the end when the three discuss Subspecies V. They all want to do but are insisting to hold out and do it properly with a reasonable budget - something that may not happen today's environment. We also learn that it's a prequel, though they manage to get Michelle in the story somehow. We can only hope that it happens someday. The one complaint on this segment is that the sound is terrible; clearly Full Moon's sound guy wasn't doing his job on these interview because it sounds like they were recorded in a cave.

    Next is a "killer montage" of Subspecies that is in HD and about a minute and a half long. Lastly, there are nine trailers to various Full Moon films that are all in HD.

    There are some great supplements on this blu that fans are sure to enjoy. While I'm first to criticize Charles Band and Full Moon for many things, I can appreciate them bringing some of the cast and crew back together to give us some updated supplements to enjoy.

    Final Thoughts

    Subspecies II is a classic; it's one of those rare sequels that is superior to the original. If you have yet to see the Subspecies movies, you owe it to yourself to at least watch the first two. Those will surely get you hooked. New or old fan, you're in for a treat with this bluray. Besides a few new extras, along with the classic Videozone, this is the best the movie has ever looked. I'm not as big of a sound guy as most home theater enthusiasts but many will opt to buy the UK version of this bluray from 88 Films to get lossless audio and what is generally considered to be a higher quality bluray pressing over the Full Moon release. Regardless of which version you get, get it! Highly recommended.

    Rating

    [​IMG]
    Movie - A

    Image Quality - B+

    Sound - B-

    Supplements - B+


    Technical Info.
    • Color
    • Rated R
    • 1 Disc
    • Dolby Digital 5.1
    Supplements
    • Commentary with director and stars
    • VideoZone
    • Recollections Featurette
    • Subspecies montage
    • Full Moon trailers
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
  2. Mok

    Mok Family is Forever

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    I've never seen these that I can remember so I will definitely check this one out!
     
  3. Dave

    Dave Pimp

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    First one is very slow. Parts 2 and 3 have better pacing but still slow for many. Fun movies, though.
     
  4. Zombie Dude

    Zombie Dude Well-Known Member

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    Nice review Dave [​IMG]

    I seem to remember the UK blu was said to look a lot better. It may be something to consider for those that want to see the film looking its best.
     
  5. Mok

    Mok Family is Forever

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    I don't know how I never saw these but I'm addicted now! Thanks Dave [​IMG]
     

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