Subspecies (1991)

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Released 8-Feb-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-with producer Charles Band and filmthreat.com's Chris Gore
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Subspecies 2
Trailer-Puppet Master 2
Trailer-Future Cop
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 80:20 (Case: 86)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ted Nicolaou
Studio
Distributor
Full Moon Pictures
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Angus Scrimm
Anders Hove
Irina Movila
Laura Mae Tate
Michelle McBride
Ivan J. Rado
Mara Grigore
Adrian Vâlcu
Michael Watson
Lili Dumitrescu
Ion Besoiu
Case Custom Packaging
RPI $14.95 Music Stuart Brotman
Richard Kosinski
William Levine


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

“The Night Has Fangs"

     Subspecies opens with evil vampire Radu (Anders Hove) killing his father King Vladislav (Angus Scrimm) to obtain possession of the bloodstone - an object which bestows special powers from it's contents formed from the blood of saints. Not only is Radu one nasty looking piece of work in the fashion of Orlock from the classic movie Nosferatu, but he is able to summon the subspecies minions from the broken off tips of his claw like fingers. The subspecies themselves are best described as little stop-motion puppet demons constructed with the most unconvincing special effects since the gorilla in King Kong (the 1933 version). Into these surroundings we see three student girlfriends, two from America and one local, who abandon all good sense (and travel advisory warnings) to travel around Romania (Transylvania) on a study thesis examining Romanian folk-lore. After setting up lodgings in an old monastery the three girls begin exploring their surroundings and happen upon the castle which houses Radu's coffin. Radu becomes aware of the three girls and is determined to make them his vampiric concubines. The girls, oblivious to the danger that lies ahead, make their way back to their lodgings where they encounter Stefan (Michael Watson), a charming man who is also apparently studying in the region. His speciality is nocturnal wildlife - not surprising since he also happens to be a vampire son of the King and the half brother of Radu. As it happens his mother was human whereas the evil Radu was born from the union between Vladislav and a sorceress.

     In a precursor to the Twilight series the handsome Stefan and American student Michelle (Laura Tate) form a romantic attachment with Stefan attempting to both gain revenge against Radu for his father's murder, and also protect Michelle from the vampire's intent. In collaboration with the monastery keeper Karl (Ivan J. Rado) Stefan hatches a plan to kill Radu and retrieve the bloodstone. Michelle's two girlfriends have already been attacked and transformed into vampires, and Michelle is to be the final conquest. Whether Radu can be killed before he gets to Michelle remains to be seen, and what is the future of the love between Michelle and Stefan?

     Subspecies has plenty of flaws including unconvincing special effects, continuity errors, and sometimes hammy acting but is still a lot of fun. Andres Hove as the perpetually drooling Radu really steals the movie and there's lots of great sequences with suitably sexy vampires and authentic costumes. The Gothic surroundings and Romanian countryside in autumn really helps sets the mood and the locally hired support cast all do their jobs well. The soundtrack which is composed of orchestral and choral moments is also excellent. Overall Subspecies is a fine example of traditional, if cheesy, vampire movie making on a budget.

     Subspecies is the opening movie included in the Subspecies box-set.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video is presented in full frame 1.33:1 aspect and is not 16x9 enhanced. There is a lot of noise, positive and negative artefacts and grain however none of it is really bad enough to be distracting. Sharpness is better than VHS quality but nowhere near as good as a DVD can be. Given the age of the source material this is a satisfactory presentation overall.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     A Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track encoded at 192 Kb/s is the only offering and is a reasonable effort. All the dialogue is clear and synchronised with the video. There were some directional effects with surround processing enabled however overall the surrounds and subwoofer were inactive. The audio commentary is also in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kb/s.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu was still without music.

Audio Commentary by Producer Charles Band with Chris Gore

     A very interesting overview of the making and concept of the Subspecies series with Gore acting as interviewer to the series producer Band. Unlike many other commentaries Band does not merely describe the on-screen action but explains the production and concept behind the movie, including inspirations for the characters, the benefits and challenges of shooting in Romania, and casting issues. Band also explains why and how the minion creatures were created and the difficulties faced in incorporating them into the footage.

Behind The Scenes Featurette (9:30)

     1.33:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 192 Kb/s. As introduced by director Ted Nicolaou, this is a fairly interesting behind the scenes look at the making of Subspecies - the first American feature film filmed in Romania. Covers aspects of story and creature development as well as filming.

Theatrical Trailer (1:18)

1.33:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 192 Kb/s.

Other Bigsky Trailers

1.33:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 192 Kb/s: Subspecies 2 (1:44), Puppet Master 2 (2:01) and Future Cop (2:50).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This version is from a five disc box-set and looks identical to the stand alone DVD of Subspecies. Apart from PAL versus NTSC and language differences this version looks the same as the Region 1 disc and so this local version is recommended. Note that there are references to this movie being presented in 1.85:1 aspect on Region 1 sites, however I believe that the original aspect is actually 1.33:1.

Summary

     Subspecies is a lot of fun despite its flaws. Although bloody and titillating at times, the effects are reminiscent of classic Hammer films of the past rather than more modern shockers which rely on CGI enhanced carnage and gore. The performance of Hove as Radu is excellent and certainly sets a standard for truly vile vampires rather than the cleaner cut Christopher Lee type. Highly recommended for all lovers of the genre.

     The video quality is good. The audio quality is good. The extras are good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationDenon AVR-3808 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Region 4 vs Region 1 - Anonymous