October 24, 2011

Horror- A-Day: Subspecies

The October Halloween marathon marches on. Sure, it has been mostly mediocre to poor, but it is still horror and there is nothing wrong with watching horror movies, even the bad ones have their fans, right? My last choice was a borderline horror film, more of a splatter gore film. I think it counts, I mean you aren't exactly going to call it comedy or drama, no matter if the elements are there. This time I picked a movie based on wanting to revisit it after a long time away. That and I found it on Netflix, plus forgetting if I actually own it or not. For he record, I think I do.

This choice film comes courtesy of Full Moon Entertainment, a company whose name is synonymous with schlocky, low budget horror, along with an abnormal amount of puppets. Now, this one has limited use of puppetry, but there is some. The movie is called Subspecies and it is the first of a series of four films and a spinoff (The Vampire Diaries).

The film was written and directed by Ted Nicolau based on an idea by Full Moon head honcho Charles Band. It is a vampire story, loosely adapted from the original Dracula. It is not really that close to the text, but of you are familiar with the book you will recognize some of the bits.

As the movie opens we are introduced to the King of the vampires, played by Phantasm's Angus in one of the worst wigs you'll ever see. In his hand is an item called the bloodstone, which continuously bleeds the blood of the saints and can satiate a vampire. Oh yes, if you did not know, this is a vampire movie.

The King is preparing to pass on the title as he is getting older. His chosen is his half human son, Stefan, however his elder son, the evil Radu, has other plans. You see, he has just returned from exile and wants the stone for himself. Now, this is only the opening minutes. Some finger snapping, puppet making, assassinating moments later the King is dead, Radu has the stone and we jump forward to the present day.

A couple of American students show up in town with a Romanian guide to study folklore. Soon enough they have gotten the attention of both Radu and Stefan. Stefan must protect them from Radu's advances. Before long, people are dying and the girls are trapped in a nightmare.

This movie has problems, budget, acting, and screenplay to start. However, this production has plenty of energy and has a good look to it. Ted Nicolaou does get some really nice shots, angles, and some fantastic shadows that evoke Nosferatu. On top of that, Anders Hove is great as the menacing Radu. It had been so long that I had forgotten just how awesome a villain he is.

There are some interesting facts about the film. One is that it was shot on location in Transylvania and it was the first film shot in Romania after the fall of Communism. This helps give this low budget production something interesting to look at.

The bottom line is that Subspecies certainly is no A-lister, but it is a lot of fun. It has its fair share of cheese and menace and banks a lot on having a great villain.

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