FEBRUARY 28, 2012
I have already forgotten everything that happened in Subspecies, so it was a bit disorienting when Subspecies II: Bloodstone picked up right where it left off, because I couldn’t quite recall who anyone was or who was on who’s side. It didn’t help that the heroine was replaced in between movies, which will allow me to make one comparison between these movies and the Hatchet series. Just the one though!
Anyway, I THINK it’s a little better. Not GOOD, but I was actually kind of interested in the shenanigans this time around, and even got a bit bummed when a character was killed. The makeup and FX are improved, and it’s not as terribly overlit as the original either. When the vampires go outside, it’s dark out, not late afternoon, and when a vamp starts to emerge from a crypt and sees the sun rising, it makes visual sense that she cannot proceed. It’s the little things, like not having a goddamn vampire walk around in direct sunlight, that can really help a silly little vampire movie.
It’s still awkwardly structured though, carrying over a major problem of the original. This time, new heroine Rebecca (sister of the main girl, who is now a vampire) comes to Romania to find her sister, which is the sort of plot you’ve seen in a million movies. But those movies don’t usually break up this plot to show the sister doing her thing, as this one does, which severely limits the suspense that these plots can provide when done correctly. I should be in the same position as Rebecca, wondering what happened to her, if she’s hurt or worse, if I’ll ever see her again, etc. Instead, I know perfectly well what she’s up to, putting the audience far ahead of the heroine we should be identifying with. Once they finally meet up (a bit past the halfway point) it gets a little better, because we’re finally just as informed as Rebecca.
It’s also shocking low on violence; these vampires seemingly don’t need to feed as often as most of their movie brethren. The villain Radu spends most of the movie just talking to his mother (a Mummy), letting Anders Hove give his best bad Marlon Brando impression pretty much every 5 minutes or so. Most of the scares are shadow based – people run and then we see a shadow of Radu or the Mummy in the background. As with the original, it’s painfully short on action – it’s almost like they forgot that by shooting in Romania they had extra money to put toward things like FX and violence.
Then again, maybe they were saving it for part 3, which was shot back to back with this one. OR, another theory – this is just the stretched out version of the first half of one script, with Subspecies III forming the 2nd half. As you might expect given what I’ve said so far, it’s a bit of a snoozer, and part of that is due to the fact that scenes drag on forever (such as Michelle boarding a train in the first reel). I won’t know for sure until I watch part 3 (hopefully with the ability to remember this one), but I’d be willing to bet that a good editor could make a pretty fun/exciting 1:45 or so minute movie from these two (this one is 86 minutes with credits; it could probably be around 50, 55 tops).
It’s just amusing to watch these now; I avoided most of them as a kid because they were too cheap and dull compared to the good stuff I regularly digested (the big franchises, big budget Hollywood stuff like The Blob or The Fly, etc), but now they’re pretty classy and respectable compared to the shit Full Moon churns out now. Most of their modern films are shot in cheap, overused Los Angeles locales and sport FX that would be embarrassing in these 20 year old films. I’ll take Romania and a bad miniature composite over the Linda Vista and PS1 level CGI any day of the week!
What say you?