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Old 06-22-2004, 01:14 AM
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Subspecies II




Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: March 7, 2004

Released by: Full Moon | Paramount
Release date: 1993
MSRP: $??.?? (Out of Print)
NTSC
Full Frame 1.33:1



Two years after the original Subspecies hit video stores around the world, Full Moon and Director Ted Nicolaou returned to Romania to film back-to-back sequels to Subspecies. In tow was a new actress to play the character of Michelle (the then unknown Denice Duff).

Anyone who read my review to the original Subspecies knows I'm a big fan of the original. So how do the sequels stack up amongst fans? Lets take a look at the first sequel, Subspecies II: Bloodstone. Sadly, these movie still have yet to hit DVD, and are unlikely to do so anytime in the future. Fortunately, we still have the good old 12" disc - laserdisc - to fill the void in the meantime.

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's through the countryside. Michelle makes her way onto a train, which she takes to city of Bucharest. There she enters the 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 near 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.

We are again given beautify 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.



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Image Quality

Once again we are given a laserdisc that is nearly equivalent to its VHS counterpart. Both were released in 1993 and both have dated transfers. The laserdisc does have a slightly sharper picture. The image is full frame in the film's original ratio of 1.33:1. Colors are flat and the image is soft overall, lacking detail and sharpness. There is no evident print damage or other blemishes, besides some occasional white specks appearing here and there from video noise.

Sound

A stereo track is include and it's quite good. The effects and music are 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 II laserdisc.

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.



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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 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. Even if you have to go out and pickup the VHS, you'll still be getting everything discussed in this review, including the VideoZone. Picture and sound quality on this LD are acceptable, and it can still be found on ebay for a reasonable price.

Rating

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

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

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