"FEAR NOT. SOON YOUR MORTAL FEELINGS WILL CEASE TO CAUSE YOU PAIN." Of all the direct-to-video movies produced by Full Moon, the Subspecies series is the best. Granted, that's not exactly saying a lot. However, I always kinda liked Full Moon's bargain basement do-it-yourself horror movies and they DID manage to carve out a video niche all their own. But the Subspecies movies are actually worth watching in their own right. They all have one director (Ted Nicolaou) and are actually filmed in Romania/Transylvania.
While all 4 films (and the "peripheral" non-series movie "The Vampire Journals" which is related but separate) should be watched in a row, today's Halloween vampire movie is going to specifically be the second installment: "BLOODSTONE: SUBSPECIES II". After the events of the first movie, we've changed lead actresses; our lead heroine Michelle (played by Laura Tate in the first movie) will, from now on, be played by the superior Denice Duff. Michelle and some other students have come to Romania to poke around Castle Vladislas for their research papers. Sadly for them, Castle Vladislas has always been the mythical home of the King of the Vampires and his family. After killing his father the King (played by Phantasm's Angus Scrimm in the first film) and his brother, Radu is the sole surviving vampire in the family. There has also been a great brouhaha concerning possession of a strange relic called the "bloodstone" which oozes the blood of the saints and can quench a vampire's thirst. Radu (the spectacular Anders Hove) is something of a cross between the vampire Lestat and Nosferatu -- and he then also kills Michelle's friends and has vampirized Michelle. This is where we stand when the second film begins.
SUBSPECIES II opens at the scene of the carnage ending the first film. Radu almost manages to stake poor Michelle before she can see what it's like to BE a vampire -- however the rising soon puts a stop to that. As the sun sets later that day, Michelle manages to escape (with the bloodstone) and hide from Radu. The entire film basically concerns Michelle's realization of her new undead status and Radu's attempts to track her down. Not a lot in the action department but the performances of Duff and Hove make it more than interesting. Duff portrays the battling sides of her humanity and vampiric nature as she is alternately bewildering, panicked, bloodlusting and resigned. Hove as the vampire Radu is simply one of the screen's best vampires ever. His monster makeup, which was adequate but under-realized in the first film, is MUCH better here. The stringy long hair, the incredibly long fingers with their graveyard nails and that voice which sounds like a corpse's fingernails across a blackboard in hell. . .all that and more make him a joy to see each time he's on screen. But the performance itself is even better; Radu has a wicked sense of humour and is also quite lovestruck by Michelle. While his "fledgling" resists him and refuses to either give in to her vampiric nature OR to follow him as her master, Radu threatens her with the most horrific torture -- but lets her get away with it anyway. He cannot bring himself to harm her -- despite his demonstrated cold-bloodedness to everyone else.
Also in this film we meet Radu's dear Mommy: a wizened, rotting walking corpse who putters with magic potions inside a cemetery crypt. What a family! She looks, in fact, like Joan of Arc -- AFTER the bonfire! Mommy warns Radu that this fledgling will destroy him but the guy's simply too infatuated to do anything about it. While Michelle herself, without realizing Radu's inclinations, merely fears and loathes the vampire who made her like himself. All this in a made-for-video vampire movie. Regardless of the execution, it's GOT to be interesting. And it is. The entire Subspecies series (so far -- including "the Vampire Journals" companion film) are all in one DVD box set. Radu and Halloween: Perfect Together.