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Subspecies III




Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: July 25, 2007

Released by: Full Moon | Paramount
Release date: 1994
MSRP: $??.?? (Out of Print)
NTSC
Full Frame 1.33:1



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.

My review of Subspecies II was in 2004, where I stated there were no DVDs available for the first thee films. Full Moon seems to have resurrected itself for the umpteenth time and have since released a Subspecies DVD set containing all four movies. I do plan to take a look at those in the near future, but here I am finishing up the laserdisc review of the original trilogy. Put your fangs on and get the buckets of drool ready as we take a look at 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.

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


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Image Quality

As with Part II, the transfer here is indetical to its VHS counterpart. With a DVD recently released, I am curious to do some comparisons, but I have yet to see the DVDs, so that's for another review. The disc is dated and as such displays the poor quality of an analog format; especially from an early 90s release. The quality here is virtually the same as Part II - colors are flat with a soft image, lacking detail. No print damage is present.

Sound

Again, we have a Stereo track that is nearly identical to Part II. It's a great track; music is powerful through the front speakers and dialog is consistently audible. No sound blemishes were discovered.

Supplemental Material

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 laserdisc. It begins, as usual, with an Charles Band speaking on some current (1994) projects in the Full Moon pipeline. Here he discusses Oblivision, 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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Final Thoughts

Subspecies III is enjoyable, but not nearly as good as Part II. If you have yet to visit the world of Subspecies, I highly recommend doing so. It's a good series that will be enjoyed by most vampire fans, though some may complain about the slow pacing. Those that don't have laserdisc will be happy to know all four Subspecies movies were recently released on a DVD boxset. We'll be visiting that set at some point in the future. As for this laser, the picture quality is somewhat lacking considering it was released in the early 90s, but it can be purchased for a reasonable price off ebay.

Rating

Movie - B
Image Quality - C+
Sound - B-
Supplements - B

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Stereo
Supplements
  • VideoZone

 

 

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