Monday, July 09, 2007

Subspecies 3: Bloodlust - review


Director: Ted Nicolaou

Release Date: 1994

Contains spoilers*

*This review will contain spoilers for this movie. However, as it follows immediately on from the second film it will also contain major spoilers for the ending of that movie.

Radu (Anders Hove) and Michelle (Denice Duff) are back in a film that again continues immediately where the last one left off. I was left a little unsure after this one, however, parts of it are fantastic but other parts left me cold… I will, of course, explain.

The film begins with a voice over by Rebecca (Melanie Shatner) recounting the events of the second film. At the end of that Rebecca was trapped in Mummy’s (Pamela Gordon) crypt and about to become a snack for Radu. However Michelle defied the witch and the vampire to try and save her sister.

She stabbed Radu with the mystical dagger and then set Mummy alight with a torch, causing her to screech off deeper into the crypt. She then stabbed Radu repeatedly and Rebecca finished him off with a stake. They made their way out of the crypt but it was daylight and so Michelle had to remain within, with Rebecca vowing to wait for her. As Michelle backed into the darkness she was grabbed by Mummy. So, end of a Subspecies film and a dead Radu again, how will he get out of that one?

harvesting Michelle's bloodMummy has both Radu and Michelle laid out in the crypt. She slits Michelle’s wrist, harvests blood and anoints Radu with it. She then cuts her own mouth with the dagger and places it into a wound. This is about all we see but we are left in no doubt that she is using sorcery to revive her son.

Kevin Spiritas as MelMeanwhile Rebecca has got to an inn and phoned the US embassy. Before long both Mel (Kevin Spiritas) and Romanian copper Lt. Marin (Ion Haiduc) have arrived. The police are searching the crypt but find nothing bar Professor Popescu’s body. No one believes her story but, as Mel and Marin argue, Rebecca enters the crypt again. It is around then that the vampires awaken, as the sun is setting, and Rebecca is drawn towards the sounds of Mummy cackling and Michelle’s screams. Knowing that the sanctity of the crypt has been breached Mummy arranges for the three to be transported back to Castle Vladislav.

Denice Duff as MichelleThis causes a rather expansive amount of smoke and a light show that flood from out of the crypt, the net result being that Rebecca and the cops in there leg it. Mel is now convinced that Rebecca is telling the truth although Marin believes it to be a bomb. The film then follows two distinct threads.

Michael Dellafemina as BobWe have Rebecca preparing to storm the castle, with a reluctant Marin, Mel and Mel’s CIA buddy Bob (Michael Dellafemina). It was this aspect that left me cold, at least when Bob was involved in the film. The clean cut CIA agent, dressed like a pin-up for Soldier of Fortune just didn’t fit and felt cheap. This highlights something I have thought about the films, though they are clearly low budget they never feel cheap, avoiding many of the traps low budget films fall into. With Bob they failed.

Radu and MichelleThe other thread follows the relationship between Radu and Michelle and it is so tragic that you almost feel sorry for Radu. Mummy wants Michelle dead; she feels that the girl is tempting him away from his path of true evil. Radu will broke none of this and has promised to teach Michelle all the tricks of being a vampire.

Michelle bites RaduHe maintains the act that he is the master and she is the fledgling who must be devoted to him but it is clear that she has a power in the relationship due to his feelings for her. There is one scene in particular where he suggests to Michelle that they must return to the castle’s crypt as the sun is about to rise. She states that she wants to see the sun rise and he allows this. He then tells her that he loves her and offers her his neck, to him a great gift and to us almost an act of submissiveness. She bites him, accepting his gift, and then vehemently tells him that she hates him.

There is a change in lore that needs to be mentioned. In the first film it was suggested that Mummy bewitched King Vladislav so that she could give birth to Radu. In this it is suggested that he was the seducer and then, having gained her, killed her family, chased away the survivors and took (and renamed) their castle.

silver bullets in the gunDuff’s performance in this was stronger than in the last film, she carries an air of dignity that perhaps was lost in the last film. Hove is again great as Radu, in turns malevolent, tragic and comic. This comic factor is more in facial expression than it is in anything else, despite the heavy makeup, and is best illustrated by this screenshot as Rebecca puts a silver bullet loaded revolver to his head.

Anders Hove as RaduOne other thing that has struck me about Radu, but I have not mentioned thus far, but is illustrated neatly in this film is… Despite his powers, his immortality, his strength and the evil in his heart, he is a bit of a coward. At one point he ‘shadows’ to Bucharest to get Rebecca. He enters her room and is going to bite when he notices that Mel is in the room, asleep on the couch, and so retreats.

Ion Haiduc as MarinThe other performance to mention is that by Haiduc as Marin. The character comes across as so personable, almost like a Romanian Columbo – hardly surprising as in the last film he suggested he learnt English by watching Columbo. It was nice to see the character used more fully as he was woefully under used in film number 2.

Possibly one issue with the film would come about if the film was to be watched as a stand alone. There is, as mentioned, a thorough recap but this is the next episode in the story, if you like, and I am sure that some of my enjoyment came about because of that.

perhaps the relationship could have been explored moreA worthwhile entry into the series but some of the rescue aspects weaken the film despite the Michelle and Radu relationship, which to be honest could have been given more screen time.

6 out of 10

The imdb page is here.


The T said...

When I watched it -like a few minutes ago- I had exactly the same reaction: the appearance of the commando-like guy almost ruined the movie, made it feel like a cheap army flick. Good thing he died rather quickly.

Has none said yet that in this whole Subspecies series we have probably the best in biting in all of vampire films? I can' t remember other film when the actual biting looked so real.

Good film. Though the machine-gun fool almost ruins it.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

The T, good point re the bites.

NerdyWillowTree said...

I just rewatched it. This is, in my opinion, the weakest part of the Subspecies series, with the second one being the best. Actually this could have been really great, if it would have focused on the relation between Radu and Michelle, how she, step by step, loses her humanity, experiencing the ecstasy of a bloodbath, etc. There would have been so many possibilities, but the movie just wastes way too much time with the rather uninteresting side characters. And yeah, that CIA guy just sucked. Fortunately part 4 got better and I also really like Vampire Journals a lot.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi NerdyWillowTree, for me 4 was the weakest tbh, but it is each to their own. But I absolutely agree re Vampire Journals - love that film

NerdyWillowTree said...

Hi Taliesin,

I have now rewatched part 4 and, well, you're right. It really is the weakest. To begin with, it looks a lot cheaper than its predecessors, the atmosphere is somehow there, but done with much less care. The plot also didn't really do it for me, I actually got quite bored. Anyway, did you know that now there is a Comic book sequel? I already read and it is quite nice.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hey NerdyWillowTree - its always a bummer when that happens :(

I didn't know about the graphic adaption, I'll keep an eye out :) thanks for letting me know