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Species II (Blu-ray Review)

Species-IIThe first SPECIES movie offers a terrifying look at an experiment combining human and alien DNA. The result proves more dangerous and terrifying than anyone could have ever imagined. The ongoing fight for supremacy between mankind and human-alien hybrids continued in three subsequent feature films.  Fans of widely popular SPECIES movies rejoice as the long-awaited Blu-ray™ editions of SPECIES II.  Based on the characters created by Dennis Feldman (Species) and directed by Peter Medak (Rome Is Bleeding), SPECIES II, the sequel to the 1995 science fiction thriller stars Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), Natasha Henstridge (She Spies), Marg Helgenberger (Under the Dome), Mykelti Williamson (Justified), George Dzundza (Grey’s Anatomy), James Cromwell (American Horror Story) and Justin Lazard (Universal Soldier: The Return).

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Having just returned from a mission to Mars, Commander Ross isn’t exactly himself. He’s slowly becoming a terrifying alien entity with a one-track mind – to procreate with human women!  When countless women suffer gruesome deaths after bearing half-alien offspring, scientist Laura Baker and hired assassin Press Lennox use Eve, a more tempered alien clone, to find Ross and his virulent brood. But they underestimate Eve’s maternal drive, and before long she escapes to mate with Ross in order to create a purer and unstoppable race that could spell doom for mankind.  As time is running out, the ultimate battle takes place in a chilling climax that puts Darwin’s theory to the ultimate test… only the strongest species will survive.

Odd factoid, when I was in high school I had the poster for this movie up in my room.  Not because I liked the movie, but it was a cool 3-D poster that changed from Eve to the alien when you would move your head by it.  A friend who worked at the local video store snagged it for me when they took down promotion for it.  As goes, I went to the first movie back in middle school to see a super gorgeous blonde get nude but got a pretty decent sci-fi thriller too.  This second film…well, back in 1998 I was sure this was hot garbage.

This is the pure definition of how old school sequels used to be done.  If the first one was a sci-fi thriller where a hot alien got naked and sought out dudes to mate with and murdered them, then this one would take all that and crank it up to 100.  Species II gender swaps the villain and then has more naked girls, a lot more sex and even more gruesome gory deaths.  All the while adding a little bit of new mythology, but not really much of anything else.  We get Michael Madsen and Marg Helgenberger back, but Forrest Whitaker is nowhere to be found.

One of the only and biggest compliments you can give the film is in its special effects.  And no, I’m not talking about the CGI work on the film.  That is Leprechaun 4 worlds of awful.  I’m talking about the practical effects work of Steve “Tony Stark” Johnson and his crew.  This time around the alien is a physical effect.  Plus, all the deaths and birth givings are still just completely disgusting and disturbing to this day.  I would say the majority of this stuff holds up very well.  Its very much a showcase-worthy display of gore effects, but no one has really cared over the years because its done for such a crappy movie.

Species II is a film I saw once back when I rented it in 1998 and have not returned to since.  I pretty much hated it and wasted my time back then.  However, returning to it now, I found a lot of stuff in this movie to be both hilarious and entertainingly ridiculous.  Still a sucky movie, but now an entertaining sucky movie.  Plus, there were some little bits in the film that made me wonder if the director was aiming to try and do more comedy with it.  The film almost feels like the biggest budget Cinemax film ever made.  Seriously.  If you’re into trashy, goofy exploitative movies, you may want to give Species II a second look.  But, I think its safe to say, most people who haven’t can keep moving along

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  Species II from Scream Factory actually looks pretty impressive to my eyes.  This is a sort of throwaway 90s movie that could’ve just looked rough.  But, here its a rather full, clean image that looks better than it deserves.  The practical effects look even more grisly, and hold up quite well.  What looks probably worse than ever is the CG effects that never looked good in this film to begin with.

Depth:  Impressively for what it is, this movie does look pretty free and loose.  Most of this is in the laboratory scenes.  Movements are cinematic and come across smoothly.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich.  This film has some really dark scenes and detail is lost in it but no crushing was witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors look really rich here.  Purple stands out pretty good.  Also reds and blue provide a solid burst.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones have a natural appearance and are consistent throughout the film’s runtime.  Details on facial features are quite impressive from medium and close-range to where you can see stubble, scars, pores and make-up.

Noise/Artifacts: There are some scratches and dirt/specs in the print very very very minimally.

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  Species II delivers a loud and effective 5.1 surround mix.  You get all the gross sex noises sounding pure as day to go with the goopy gross deaths.  And the action is loud and pronounced.  Plenty of good layering in this nice loose and balanced mix.

Low Frequency Extension:  Alien attacks, jump scare noises, guns and score hits all gets booms from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The front speakers give a loud pronounced dictation of the back and forth action and character placements.  Rear channels do get some stuff to do but overall hang out giving some lovely ambiance. 

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, crisp and clear.  That Michael Maden’s seductive rasp comes through better than ever.

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Species II comes with reversible cover art featuring an alternate poster design.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Peter Medak

From Sil To Eve (HD, 16:21) – An interview with Natasha Henstridge.  She takes us through her career from not doing to well at modeling and jumping at the Species auditions to her experience being an “It Girl” for a moment.  An interesting bit is that she was considered for the Terminatrix in Terminator 3.

Creature Creations (HD, 28:48) – Interviews with creature and special make-up effects creator Steve Johnson, supervising cosmetic designer Leonard MacDonald, transformation supervisor Joel Harlow and chrysalis effects supervisor William Bryan.

Alien Evolutions (HD, 19:00) – Interview with screenwriter Chris Brancato.  Funny enough, a lot of the really crazy stuff in the movie was in his script.  He even had production guys coming to him on set and saying “You really wrote this?”

Special Effects Outtakes & Behind The Scenes Footage (HD, 13:32) 

Species II: Eve Of Destruction Featurette (HD, 11:53) – A vintage EPK for the film from 1998.

Uncut Footage Not Shown In Theaters (HD, 8:02) 

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:15) 

Still Gallery (HD, 7:24) – Posters, lobby cards, behind-the-scenes photos, special effects behind-the-scenes photos & production sketches.

Special Makeup Effects Gallery (HD, 6:19)

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0

Yes, I know…that’s a pretty high score.  No, Species II isn’t a good movie at all.  I did find it to be unintentionally hilarious at many points as well as ridiculous.  The practical effects here are dynamite too.  What makes this release is that is has a really good transfer and good audio.  But, the real all star here are the fantastic extras provided.  Tons of new interviews and content.  Shy of Michael Madsen or Marg Helgenberger coming back, they really left nothing on the table.  Surprisingly, this does not have the “Collector’s Edition” banner on it, but the only thing that seems to be missing is a slip cover.  Aside from that, it holds it own and is better than many of their titles with that illustrious banner.  Because of all the extras on it, I think this one is actually own worthy despite being such a poor film.  If you’re into B-movie and so bad they’re good movies, you may want to give Species II another look.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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