Subspecies III

Discussion in 'High Def' started by Dave, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. Dave

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    [​IMG] Reviewer: Dave
    Review Date: October 11, 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



    Full Moon seems to have finally embraced bluray and has done so in the proper way. Fans will argue about lossless tracks in the UK but at least we have the option to import those over here in the States. While quality is always a factor with a Full Moon release, they seem to be off to a reasonable start so far with their blus. Full Moon recently announced they will be releasing one bluray a month for the foreseeable future. I think that's an aggressive goal for them. I'll be happy if we get one a quarter, particularly if its from their classic library (primarily the early to mid 90s).

    Filmed back to back with Subspecies II, Subspecies III was originally planned as a conclusion to the series. Any Full Moon fan, and any horror fan for that matter, knows that if there's a profit to be made, a sequel will come. Such was the case with this series, with Subspecies IV being released back in 1998. Lets take a look at Full Moon's bluray of Subspecies III.

    The Story

    The movie opens with a recap of part II. We left off with Michelle (Denice Duff) being pulled back into the crypt by Radu's mummy. Rebecca (Melanie Shatner), Michelle's sister, promised to return with help in the morning. Rebecca turns to the two who first helped her search for Michelle: local police officer Lieutenant Martin (Ion Haiduc) and U.S. embassy worker Mel Thompson (Kevin Spirtas). Lieutenant Martin searches the crypt, finding no signs of Michelle, Radu, or the mummy. Mel is reluctant to believe Rebecca's story of vampires, leaving her no choice but to return to the crypt alone to search for Michelle.

    Radu's mummy is busy resurrecting him after he was fatally attacked by Michelle. Once revived, Radu struggles with his longing for Michelle and her reluctance to become his obedient servant. It's only after her sister Rebecca's life is threatened does Michelle begin to relent. Michelle begins to accept her fate as a vampire and yearns for knowledge, from vampire powers to how they are destroyed. Radu begins to teach her, and professes his love to Michelle, only to be countered with Michelle claiming she will hate him for all time. Radu's mummy sees the effect Radu's love for Michelle has over him; she insists that Michelle be destroyed, but Radu continues to shield her from any harm.

    Rebecca convinces Mel of her story about the vampire family. Mel and Rebecca, with Lieutenant Martin close behind, begin researching vampire folklore and devise a plan to save Michelle. They enlist the help of a gung-ho CIA agent named Bob (Michael Dellafemina). The group returns to Radu's castle; Mel and Bob scale the wall to get inside and search for Michelle. The two are no match for Radu and mummy, however. With night approaching, all hopes seems lost. Michelle longs to end her curse, but must decide between trying to defeat Radu or becoming his partner for eternity to have Rebecca's life spared.
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    While not as good as the second movie, Subspecies III still manages to hold its own in the trilogy. It comes in as my second favorite, with II being first and the original being third. The second movie had a great pace and an intensity to it that is unmatched by the third. What remains in the third are the beautiful visuals of Romania and the great makeup effects by Full Moon. What the third movie introduces is Radu's struggle for Michelle's affection. He never gets it; she flat out tells him that she will hate him for all time. He takes this abuse from her but continues to protect and love her. It's a powerful part to the story and is appropriately timed in the trilogy. The first deals with Michelle and her friends' trip to Romania and their encounter with Radu. The second deals with Michelle becoming a vampire and trying to escape Radu. The third is Michelle reluctantly accepting that she is a vampire and Radu's desire to spend eternity with her.
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    The third movie falters from being long and drawn out. Take out the Radu and Michelle love angle, and it's really just more of same from the second. That's difficult to say for a movie with an 80 minute runtime, but this 'conclusion' could have been chopped down to 30 minutes and tacked onto the end of the second. I understand the business side of movie making and Full Moon's desire to produce two 80 minute movies rather than one 120 minute movie, but the story and pacing suffer as a result.

    Complaints aside, I love this original Subspecies trilogy for what it is: a great vampire story with visuals and effects that remain unmatched to this day in low budget horror. To me it marked the end of an era for Full Moon and even for low budget horror. All too often these days we get cheap DV DTV knockoffs (present day Full Moon included) that cannot hold a candle to some of the movies from Full Moon's glory days. Shooting a vampire movie in Romania and getting some of those great visuals in adds a level of atmosphere that is impossible to reproduce here in the States.

    If you have yet to visit the Subspecies series, I highly recommend it. Fans looking for action may not be too thrilled with it, but it is a well done story with great effects that many will enjoy.

    Image Quality

    The bluray contains a new 16x9 high definition transfer. I asked director 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. However, the additional picture present on the sides is not nearly as substantial as it was in Part II. Here's an example:
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    Laserdisc​
    Blu-ray​
    Framing issues aside, visually it looks excellent and nearly identical in quality to their Subspecies II bluray. I would rate Part II as the superior of the two as it is a bit sharper overall. Part III has more scenes showing some softness in the image, particularly in nighttime scenes. A few scenes show light grain but it's minimal. The majority of scenes remain sharp and well detailed. Colors are slightly subdued but I think that's more due to the low budget production. I'm certain the colors match how they looked over 20 years ago upon its release.

    I'm leaving the rating at a B-, like Part II. I can't bring myself to drop it to a C+ because visually it's the best it has ever looked, and in all likelihood this is the best it's ever going to look. I'm pleased with the transfer, even with a few flaws.

    Sound

    A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is included. Like the track on Part II, there's just not much to talk about in regards to the 5.1 activity. Surrounds and LFE have minimal use. Channel separation is present in the fronts; dialogue is consistent and clear from the center channel. It's an adequate track; there's just not much to talk about with it. It's lackluster for a 5.1 track.

    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

    The commentary tracks for Parts II and III were recorded back to back, so it makes sense the same people are present on both - director Ted Nicolaou and actors Anders Hove and Denice Duff. The two have lots to say about the product and plenty of anecdotes and memories are shared. The type of tidbits shared are exactly why I love the movie. They talk about filming in real castles and even real caves! How cool is that? There is some repeated information between the Subspecies II and III commentaries. That isn't too surprising given both the movies and the commentaries were done back to back.

    Full Moon's VideoZone, a short 'Making of' featurette included at the end of nearly every movie they've released onto home video, is present on this Subspecies III bluray. It's 20+ years old now and it is presented in SD. It begins, as usual, with an Charles Band speaking on some current (1994) projects in the Full Moon pipeline. Here he discusses Oblivion, the Sci-Fi Western, and Shrunken Heads. Band does in fact state that Subspecies III was the conclusion, but if fans demanded another then they would be up for it. He then discusses what's in the future, which included a movie they never got around to creating - Shadow Over Insmouth, an H.P. Lovecraft story that was eventually made into a film titled Dagon by another company.

    The next part to the VideoZone is the behind-the-scenes segment on the making of Subspecies III. The initial focus is on effects, then it goes to interviews with cast and crew on their experiences making the movie.

    The next segment is unrelated to Subspecies - an interview with actor John DeLancie, who has a part on Arcade. The VideoZone concludes with some previews to other Full Moon movies.
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    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.
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    New to the bluray is a 10 minute "Recollection 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 title explains it - the director and two stars discuss their memories of Subspecies. It's short but interesting to watch once. My biggest complaint is it sounds like it was recorded in a cave - awful audio on it. It's worth pointing out that this is the identical featurette on the Part II bluray. It's not specific to Part II or Part III.
    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.

    If I have any complaint about the supplements it's that nowhere on either Part II or Part III do they discuss why they couldn't get Laura Tate to come back for the role of Michele. It was a blessing in disguise. It's Laura Tate that seems out of place playing Michele, not Denice Duff who rocks it in Parts II-IV. Maybe I missed it but I don't think so. I'm sure it was a matter of money or scheduling conflict. It would have been nice to hear about whatever the reason was. Besides that complaint, the extras are great and fans are going to enjoy going through them.

    Final Thoughts

    Subspecies III is enjoyable, though not nearly as much as Part II. If you have yet to visit the world of Subspecies, I highly recommend doing so. This bluray is a great way to do so. It's a good series that will be enjoyed by most vampire fans, though some may complain about the slow pacing. I'm impressed and thankful Full Moon was able to give us a bluray. I'm still in shock. Add in the new extras they included and most fans are going to be thrilled with this. As a reminder, 88 Films in the UK released a region free bluray that contains lossless audio. Regardless of which blu you get, just get it! Recommended.

    Rating

    [​IMG] Movie - B

    Image Quality - B-

    Sound - B-

    Supplements - B+

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

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