Subspecies: The Awakening (1998)

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Released 7-Apr-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 90:39
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ted Nicolaou
Studio
Distributor
New Moon Productions
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Anders Hove
Denice Duff
Jonathon Morris
Ioana Abur
Mihai Dinvale
Floriela Grappini
Dan Astileanu
Ion Haiduc
Case Custom Packaging
RPI ? Music Richard Kosinski
William Levine
John Zeretzka


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English 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 Yes, incidental
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

“The Master's Revenge"

     The fourth instalment of the Subspecies series sees evil vampire master Radu (Anders Hove) surviving his impalement and burning at the conclusion of Bloodlust with the help of the bloodstone. Continuity does not seem an issue with writer and director Ted Nicolaou as Radu had clearly been eliminated in the prior movie's closing scenes. Oh well, I guess one shouldn't underestimate the powers of the vampire King. I had also expected the subspecies minions to have a hand in his resurrection as they had regenerated in the previous closing scenes however now they are nowhere to be seen. We also find that the vampire's fledgling Michelle (Denise Duff) and her rescuers have been involved in a car accident after fleeing the castle with only Michelle surviving. Apprentice vampire Michelle is still enclosed in a body bag to protect her from the sunlight, so is initially assumed dead when found by passing doctor Ana Lazar (Ioana Abur). After discovering that Michelle is still alive Ana rushes her to the hospital and seeks the help of her friend and fellow doctor Niculescu (Mihai Dinvale). Niculescu is one seriously creepy guy and, oddly enough, quickly recognises that Michelle is actually a vampire who he can help cure. Hmm. Meanwhile back in the Bucharest police station we see that police Lieutenant Marin (Ion Haiduc) has also survived his encounter with Radu in Subspecies 3 but has developed a strange appetite and an aversion to sunlight.

     Emerging from his crypt resting place Radu travels to Bucharest and takes residence in the abode of vampires Ash (Jonathan Morris) and Ash's protégé Serena (Floriela Grappini). Radu immediately asserts his authority over Ash, and Serena, who seems the ambitious type, offers to become Radu's plaything in return for access to the bloodstone. Radu initially seems happy with this deal however reneges and returns Serena to the resentful Ash. Radu has apparently forgiven Michelle for her earlier treachery and wants her back. This back-flip angers Serena and she conspires with Ash to kill Radu and take possession of the bloodstone for themselves. The scheming Serena sees in the doctors Lazar and Niculescu an opportunity to kill Radu without having to "kill one's kin". Michelle on the other hand is becoming more vampiric as time passes and helps Radu when he is trapped by the doctors. Her intervention forces a change in plans for Radu's adversaries, but whether they can overcome the vampire King, and whether Michelle stays at Radu's side or turns against him, remains to be seen.

     Subspecies: The Awakening was shot a few years after the previous three instalments however the two main actors in Hove and Duff were retained. As usual the portrayal of vampire Radu by Hove was excellent and he really carries the movie. Duff is again serviceable and her transition in the second half of the movie was convincing. The four other main characters are also very good and are a significant improvement over supporting actors in the earlier movies. As usual there are plot contrivances that don't make sense, cheap special effects and gratuitous nudity, however overall this is quite a good vampire romp in it's own right. Although this is actually the fifth Subspecies themed movie by Ted Nicolaou, it directly follows the plot of Subspecies I, II, and III. To enjoy it fully I suggest watching the prior movies first.

     Subspecies: The Awakening is the fourth 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 anamorphically enhanced. Overall the video quality has improved over the previous three movies and there are few artefacts or anomalies to complain about. Sharpness is quite good although there is still a bit of grain evident - especially in daylight scenes where it becomes more obvious. The infrequent specks and dirt are not troublesome and most would not notice them. Colour was presented accurately and blacks were well defined so that night scenes were always clear. Given the modest budget production values were not high - but they were good enough for this type of film. For some reason the closing credits were rather indistinct and should have been much cleaner. Given 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 also 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. Sound levels were quite a bit lower than usual so you'll have to bump the amplifier up a bit to get a satisfactory volume. The background music and choral work is appropriately done and enhances the desired mood.

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

Extras

Menu

     The menu was still and without music.

Theatrical Trailer (2:15)

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

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 Region 4 DVD of Subspecies: The Awakening. Note that in some markets this movie is known as Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm. The Region 1 disc includes a commentary extra from Nicolaou and Duff and so is recommended if you can source it at a reasonable price.

Summary

     Subspecies: The Awakening is a strong follow up to the previous three Subspecies movies and is still a lot of fun. Hove as Radu carries the movie again with the rest of the cast also very good. Highly recommended for all lovers of the genre however you should watch the first three Subspecies movies first as it is a direct continuation of the story.

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

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Wednesday, January 19, 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

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