Overall | Subspecies (1991) | Subspecies II: Bloodstone (1993) | Subspecies III: Bloodlust (1994) | Subspecies: The Awakening (1998) | Vampire Journals (1996)

Subspecies-Boxset (1991)

Subspecies-Boxset (1991)

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Released 6-Jul-2010

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Overall Package

     If you are a fan of classic vampire movies then this five disc box set is for you. The first four discs cover the Subspecies series where Radu, excellently played by Anders Hove, one of the most memorable vampires to appear on screen, holds court. The spin-off movie Vampire Journals is included as the fifth disc to complete the compilation. All movies were written and directed by Ted Nicolaou and so the style and production values are consistent for each volume. The Subspecies series offers everything you could want in vampire movies - lusty vampires, lovely female victims, bodice ripping action, and plenty of blood letting. Although the special effects are strictly low-tech and sometimes cheesy, and the production values are modest, this does not detract from the overall enjoyment value. Highly recommended for lovers of the genre.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Monday, January 24, 2011
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Subspecies (1991) | Subspecies II: Bloodstone (1993) | Subspecies III: Bloodlust (1994) | Subspecies: The Awakening (1998) | Vampire Journals (1996)

Subspecies (1991)

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

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

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 -

Overall | Subspecies (1991) | Subspecies II: Bloodstone (1993) | Subspecies III: Bloodlust (1994) | Subspecies: The Awakening (1998) | Vampire Journals (1996)

Subspecies II: Bloodstone (1993)

Subspecies II: Bloodstone (1993)

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Released 10-Mar-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Trailer-Subspecies 3
Trailer-Future Cop 3
Trailer-Tourist Trap
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 86:48
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 Anders Hove
Denice Duff
Kevin Spirtas
Melanie Shatner
Michael Denish
Pamela Gordon
Ion Haiduc
Tudorel Filimon
Viorel Comanici
Viorel Sergovici
Catalina Murgea
Case Custom Packaging
RPI ? Music Richard Kosinski
William Levine
Michael Portis


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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“Some Things Are Better Left Undead"

     At the conclusion of the first Subspecies movie we saw the subspecies minions gather around the newly killed vampire Radu. Needless to say a follow up movie was imminent. The opening scenes in Subspecies II: Bloodstone show the minions reunite Radu's head with his body and remove the stake that "killed" him. Radu (Anders Hove) is resurrected and promptly kills with a stake his still sleeping brother (the good vampire Stefan). Before he can also deal with Stefan's newly undead lover Michelle (Denise Duff), the sun rises and he is forced back into his coffin. The next night Michelle awakens first and finds Stefan reduced to ashes. Realising what has happened she takes the bloodstone (an ancient relic formed from the blood of saints that grants special powers and strength) and flees to Bucharest. Radu is most unhappy about losing the bloodstone and so follows Michelle to Bucharest where he reunites with his sorceress "mummy" (Pamela Gordon) in her tomb. Mummy (as Radu refers to her) is as nasty a piece of work as is Radu, and instructs Radu on how to regain the bloodstone and claim Michelle for his own. Michelle contacts her sister Becky (Melanie Shatner) and begs her for help. Becky agrees and so travels to Bucharest where she teams up with the U.S. Embassy representative Mel Thompson (Kevin Spirtas), Lieutenant Marin (Ion Haiduc) of the Bucharest police, and Professor Popescu (Michael Denish) of the Folk Art Museum in a quest to help Michelle. What follows is a series of events which pit Radu and his mummy against vampiress Michelle and her friends, with the death of Radu and possession of the bloodstone as the ultimate goal.

     Viewers who have already seen the first Subspecies will realise that the character of Michelle has been replaced by Duff in this sequel. In the acting stakes Duff holds her own and is suitably glamorous and determined as a heroine. As in the first film Hove is by far the most interesting character and dominates the screen whenever he appears. The other actors are adequate although hardly overwhelming. Shatner (William Shatner's daughter) looks good in a flimsy dress and makes a suitable vampiric victim with Gordon really over the top as the sorceress.

     As in the first movie Subspecies II has plenty of flaws and in my opinion is not quite as much fun as the original. The subspecies minions themselves only appear in the opening scenes and look as dodgy as ever. Yet again Andres Hove as the perpetually drooling Radu steals the movie with "mummy" a welcome addition to the mayhem. The authentic Romanian countryside is not so prominent this time so the Gothic mood is less pronounced. Overall Subspecies II is still a reasonable, if cheesy, budget vampire movie, but not quite as attractive as its predecessor.

     Subspecies II: Bloodstone is the second 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. There is a lot of noise, positive and negative artefacts and grain however it is a slight improvement over the first Subspecies movie. None of the video problems are 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 but 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.

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 (10:27)

     1.33:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 192 Kb/s. As introduced by director Ted Nicolaou, and featuring cast and crew, this is a fairly interesting behind the scenes look at the making of Subspecies II including the difficulties they encountered filming in Romania. Video quality in this featurette is very soft with a real VHS "quality" about it.

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:

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 II. 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 II: Bloodstone is not quite as good as the original but is still a lot of fun. The carnage and gore is all there but not as graphic as modern horror movies. The performance of Hove as Radu is again excellent, with the rest of the cast quite adequate. Highly recommended for all lovers of the genre however you should watch the original Subspecies movie first as this second film is a continuation of the story.

     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)
Friday, January 14, 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) NONE
Overall | Subspecies (1991) | Subspecies II: Bloodstone (1993) | Subspecies III: Bloodlust (1994) | Subspecies: The Awakening (1998) | Vampire Journals (1996)

Subspecies III: Bloodlust (1994)

Subspecies III: Bloodlust (1994)

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Released 7-Apr-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 78:40 (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
New Moon Productions
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Anders Hove
Denice Duff
Kevin Spirtas
Melanie Shatner
Pamela Gordon
Ion Haiduc
Michael Della Femina
Michael Denish
Nicolae Urs
Radu Minculescu
Elvira Deatcu
Case Custom Packaging
RPI ? Music Richard Kosinski
William Levine
Michael Portis


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

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“Love Bleeds"

     Continuing on from the closing scenes of the second Subspecies movie, Bloodstone: Subspecies II, we see Mummy (Pamela Gordon) bring back to "life" her vampire son Radu (Anders Hove). Radu's newly undead "fledgling" Michelle (Denise Duff) has been reunited with the vampire and has reluctantly taken up an apprenticeship in vampirism with Radu as her mentor. Michelle also wishes to share in the powers of the bloodstone but Radu advises that she is not yet ready for that transition. Mummy has jealous mother-in-law syndrome and is none too pleased that Michelle is on the scene. Radu, however, is smitten with his new toy and it's plain to see that this little family threesome is in for a rocky relationship. I suspect somehow that this will all end in tears. Meanwhile Michelle's sister Becky (Melanie Shatner), U.S. Embassy representative Mel Thompson (Kevin Spirtas) and Lieutenant Marin of the Bucharest police (Ion Haiduc) go to the cemetery tomb and find the dead professor Popescu - killed by Mummy in the previous instalment. Marin thinks that this is just a murder scene but Becky and Mel know the circumstances of the professor's death, and the danger that awaits them. Becky had originally travelled from her home in the U.S. to Bucharest to help her sister and is firmly dedicated to this quest. Mel's growing attraction to Becky encourages him to also share her commitment to the rescue.

     Using their vampiric powers Radu, Michelle and Mummy return to Castle Vladislav and proceed to wreak havoc amongst the local town population. Becky, Mel, and Marin are hot on the trail of Michelle and Radu, and stake out the castle. Marin however is still not convinced that this is anything more than a murder investigation. Unable to gain entrance to the castle Mel enlists his CIA buddy Bob (Michael Della Femina) (in full commando gear plus machine guns loaded with silver crucifix bullets) to scale the castle walls and breach the defences. Needless to say this causes a few ramifications with family disagreements adding a twist to the mayhem that follows. Can Becky and friends rescue Michelle from the clutches of Radu? Can the bloodstone be retrieved? Can the subspecies minions make an appearance before the final credits roll?

     Filmed at the same time as in the second movie in the series Bloodstone: Subspecies II, the third instalment Bloodlust has a very similar style with the same strengths and weaknesses. There are plot holes a-plenty, dodgy special effects, B-standard acting, and a bit of gratuitous nudity for good measure. William Shatner's daughter won't win any acting awards but she makes for nice eye candy. The Marin role and portrayal of Romanian police grated on me a bit as at times they seemed to be played more for amusing rather than dramatic effect. Are Romanian police really that useless - and do they all drive clapped-out cars? On the positive side Andres Hove as the perpetually drooling Radu steals the movie yet again, and Mummy is even more disgusting this time around. The Romanian countryside is used to good effect and the local townspeople add a bit of authentic colour to proceedings. With both Bloodstone and Bloodlust being short movies it would have been relatively easy to combine the two movies, however I suspect the producers wanted to maximise their investment rather than tighten up the plot. Overall, however, Subspecies III is a solid continuation in this cheesy, budget priced vampire series, and is a lot of fun.

     Bloodlust: Subspecies III is the third 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. Similarly to Bloodstone there is a lot of noise, positive and negative artefacts and grain however it is still a slight improvement over the first Subspecies movie. None of the video problems are bad enough to be distracting. Sharpness is better than VHS quality but nowhere near as good as a DVD can be. In common with the prior movies there is also telecine wobbling during the opening and closing credits. 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 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. The background music 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.

Behind The Scenes Featurette (7:21)

     1.33:1 aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 192 Kb/s. As introduced by director Ted Nicolaou and featuring cast and crew, this behind the scenes look at the making of Subspecies III mostly concentrates on the makeup process and the difficulties this caused the actors. There is no duplication with the Subspecies II behind the scenes featurette. There is a bit of self deprecating humour thrown in but I'm not sure if the sequence where Michael Della Femina espouses his climbing achievements (of which there was very little) was intentionally tongue-in-cheek or not. Video quality in this featurette is very soft with a real VHS "quality" about it.

Theatrical Trailer (2:02)

    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 DVD of Subspecies III. 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 the stand-alone DVD of Bloodlust appears to be quite difficult to source, however it is available in various packages in Region 1 and Region 2. Note also that there are references to this movie being presented in a 1.85:1 aspect on Region 1 sites, however I believe that the original aspect is actually 1.33:1.

Summary

     Subspecies III: Bloodlust is not quite as good as the first movie but is still a lot of fun. As in the prior movies the performance of Hove as Radu is excellent with the rest of the cast adequate. Highly recommended for all lovers of the genre however you should watch the first two 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 good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Monday, January 17, 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) NONE
Overall | Subspecies (1991) | Subspecies II: Bloodstone (1993) | Subspecies III: Bloodlust (1994) | Subspecies: The Awakening (1998) | Vampire Journals (1996)

Subspecies: The Awakening (1998)

Subspecies: The Awakening (1998)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 7-Apr-2010

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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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

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

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.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Subspecies (1991) | Subspecies II: Bloodstone (1993) | Subspecies III: Bloodlust (1994) | Subspecies: The Awakening (1998) | Vampire Journals (1996)

Vampire Journals (1996)

Vampire Journals (1996)

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Released 7-Apr-2010

Cover Art

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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

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE