Vampire Journals (1996)

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Released 7-Apr-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Vampire Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Subspecies
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 78:09 (Case: 72)
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 Jonathon Morris
David Gunn
Kirsten Cerre
Starr Andreeff
Ilinca Goia
Case Custom Packaging
RPI ? Music Richard Kosinski


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 hunt has begun..."

     Zachary (David Gunn) is a vampire mortal with a difference. After being taken by a vampire and seeing his lover taken as prey, Zachary has become a vampire hunter. Armed with the sword of Laertes, Zachary's quest is to seek out the bloodlines of the monster that took him, and to destroy them. Zachary's vampire master and the originator of his misery is Ash (Jonathon Morris) who is also a brothel and casino owner in Bucharest with his muse Cassandra (Ilinca Goia). In an interesting twist Ash's brothel girls freely offer their blood to vampire customers who frequent rooms underneath the club. Ash is also a lover of culture, and during a recital at the concert hall he becomes infatuated with pianist Sofia Christopher (Kirsten Cerre). Zachary is following Ash and intervenes before Ash can abduct Sofia after the performance. The next day Ash commands that his business partner Iris (Starr Andreeff) persuade Sofia to provide a private performance in return for money. Despite Zachary's warnings Sofia goes to Ash's club where the inevitable happens and Ash makes her an offer she can't refuse - either become an immortal with him willingly, or agonise in resistance. It's a moot question however as Ash takes her in front of a rapt vampire audience. Zachary resolves to rescue Sofia from the vampire's clutches and offers Ash his sword in exchange for the girl. Ash however wants both the sword and Sofia, and conspires to tempt Zachary into tasting mortal blood, thereby turning him into a full vampire. With his transition to vampire now complete will Zachary's thirst for revenge be quenched? Has Ash won his prize? Can Sofia resist joining the vampire world? I suggest you watch the movie to find out.

     Vampire Journals is a spin-off from the Subspecies series, produced between the third and fourth instalments. As written and directed by Subspecies creator Ted Nicolaou, it presents the vampires in a more cultured, but no less deadly light. In a reference to Subspecies, Radu, the vampire King in that series, is at one point mentioned as being the master of Ash and the start of the bloodline.

     With filming taking place in and around Bucharest the surroundings, clothes and stylings are suitably Gothic, although set in modern times. The special effects overall are an improvement over the prior Subspecies movies, and I also think the support actors perform, on average, a bit better. The decapitation scene however looks really fake and I found it comical rather than horrifying. Whilst the villain in this movie is nowhere near as captivating as Radu, Morris as Ash does a pretty good job of mixing malevolence with languid charm. The female vampire victims are uniformly lovely, and also have trouble keeping their blouses on - which is not a bad thing. Narrator and hero Gunn does a reasonable job as the tormented and infected mortal Zachary, but is not quite as effective as Morris.

     Having a discrete story line of it's own Vampire Journals can be enjoyed without being aware of the Subspecies movies and plot. So if you like a good horror story with lusty vampires and lovely victims then I can recommend Vampire Journals.

     Vampire Journals is the fifth 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 is quite good and there are few artefacts or anomalies to complain about. There were however significant macro blocking and crushed blacks in dark scenes which sometimes hindered the detail. Despite this the quality of video is probably superior to the Subspecies offerings. Colours were intentionally drab for the most part with lots of green and grey hues and misty air. This gave a nice Gothic feel to proceedings. Given the age and quality 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 224 Kb/s is the only offering and is also a reasonable effort - apart from the dialogue synchronisation which at times was quite a bit off. The dialogue itself however was very clear and there was no trouble picking up what was being said. There were some directional effects with surround processing enabled however overall the surrounds and subwoofer were inactive. The moody score by Richard Kosinki was very well done and enhanced the tone of proceedings nicely.

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

Extras

Menu

     The menu was still and without music.

Behind The Scenes Featurette (12:55)

     1.33:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 192 Kb/s. As introduced by director Ted Nicolaou, this is an interesting behind the scenes look at the making of Vampire Journals. Nicolaou explains the thoughts behind the creating of this Subspecies spin-off using a more sophisticated and urban type of vampire while still retaining the vampire traits. Also covers the casting process, special effects and creative design of the sets. Includes some input from Cerre.

Theatrical Trailer (2:28)

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

Trailer - Subspecies (1:17)

     1.33:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 192 Kb/s. Note that this trailer does not appear on the menu but follows on after the Vampire Journals theatrical trailer.

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, apart from PAL and NTSC differences, looks identical to the stand alone DVDs available in other regions.

Summary

     Vampire Journals is a nice little spin-off from the Subspecies series with interesting characters and lovely ladies. Our villain is not as strong as Radu from Subspecies, but adds a nice change from the usual vampire cliché. Highly recommended for all lovers of the genre however the movie is quite short so I suggest backing it up with the fourth Subspecies movie.

     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)
Saturday, January 22, 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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