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Subspecies (Blu-ray Review)

Ah, it’s been a long time coming with our next review.  Fresh off  our trip to Comic-Con 2011 in San Diego, California, one of my real purposes of going was to snag me a copy of the Full Moon Entertainment production of Subspecies featuring one of my favorite vampire incarnations of all time: Radu.  It had to be mine.  This Blu-ray release marks the 20th anniversary of Subspecies and the first time (I believe) on DVD and Blu-ray in general.  Full Moon Entertainment was in the business of producing direct-to-video features shot in Romania, Bucharest, and parts of Eastern Europe.  This always lent a bit of weight in their productions due to the filming locations used.  Having not seen the original Subspecies film since my early VHS days back in the early 90’s, how will it stack up against today’s more modern counterparts?  Read and see. 

Film

Subspecies is the story of the evil vampire Radu (Anders Hove) who claims his birthright and the Bloodstone from his father (Angus Scrimm).  The Bloodstone will give him immortality, because the relic contains the blood of the saints.  When three female students stay nearby a dreadful evil is awakened.  An evil that does not sleep and feasts on living blood.  This evil is known as Radu.

Subspecies transported me back to my early adolescence VHS days.  I had an affinity for Full Moon Entertainment’s video line of products, but the Subspecies series was always my favorite.  It had a way about the violence, eroticism, and locations that gave the films higher value.

Then again, it could just be that I have a man crush on Radu.  Radu is not so much a “rockstar,” but I see him as a revised version of the Nosferatu vampire.  he has those two front fangs, giant clawed hands, but has cool hair, and his appearance is just bad ass.  He speaks in a gravely whisper, but is always grinning and drooling blood after feasting.  It’s the evil grin that is hypnotizing, because it’s one grin you don’t want to get caught slipping by.  Danish actor Anders Hove was born to play the ancient vampire.   Luckily for us, he played Radu in all FOUR films.

In addition to the typical (and not so typical) vampire antics Subspecies also adds a bit of stop motion animation to the mix in Radu’s little demonic minions who do his bidding.  These minions come from Radu’s blood.  They were also animated by David Allen Productions who also worked on the original Howling. In fact, one could say that these little minions ARE the “subspecies.”

The acting in Subspecies is pretty bland by all of the actors with the exceptions of Hove and Scrimm and the local Romanian actors.  The females used are pretty bad.  That’s okay, because they do have their purpose and that purpose is to serve my master Radu.

For all of you vampire fiends out there the Subspecies franchise is required viewing.  Here’s your chance to scoop up the Blu-ray.

Video 

Subspecies is presented in a 16X9 (1.78:1) widescreen ratio.  Shot on film more than twenty years ago it has remained largely intact.  Colors are bold and beautiful in the great Romanian outdoors, and dark and dingy in the old castle.  I did not detect any serious instances of dirt or scratches.  The most glaring problems would be during the scenes where stop motion footage was integrated with the live action footage.  There’s that light strobing effect which is a minor distraction, but all is forgiven considering the low budget of the film.  Subspecies has never looked this good!

Audio 

Subspecies is presented in stereo.  Yep, those is the bricks.  Thankfully, Subspecies isn’t one of those vampire films with lots of stuff flying around from every direction.  All that I cared about was listening to Radu’s sweet whispers of dread whenever he spoke.  I was never disappointed in the sonic output.  Dialogue is clear and crisp, and not jumbled about.  It is a very decent stereo mix.  I would not hold out hope for a lossless remaster anytime.  I don’t think there’s room in the budget for that.  The stereo track is more than adequate. 

Special Features

Subspecies is pretty much a bare bones affair with only one featurette that runs about ten minutes, but is really neat.  Back in the day Full Moon Entertainment was one of the very few production companies that would include an extensive featurette detailing the making of its projects.  There are also trailers for other Full Moon Entertainment flicks included, as well.

  • First Subspecies “Videozone!”
  • 6 Full Moon Trailers!

Final Thoughts 

Twenty years later we now have the Subspecies Blu-ray.  It’s not a revolutionary change to the old vampire mythos, but Radu is the star of the show and he rocks.  I do hope that Full Moon Entertainment puts out the rest of the Subspecies films on Blu-ray soon.  I gots to have it.

P.S. Keep in mind that Subspecies on Blu-ray is not available on Amazon or at your local retailer.  It can only be purchased through Full Moon Entertainment.  I have linked to their site for your convenience.  Click on any of the pictures to access their website.

 

Order Subspecies on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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