I've never been a fan of standad vampire movies. I want them to be something extra - a little bit more extreme, or smart - or dark. There must be a hook for me to be able to watch. Innocent Blood is a favorite, John Badham's Dracula another one. I love Salem's Lot and a couple of the old Hammer-horrors are awesome. Nowadays the vampires are too handsome (not that Frank Langella in Badham's Dracula is ugly...) for me. I want them to be more animalistic.
And it's there Subspecies comes in. I've heard about this series before, but somehow I've decided to ignore it - until it recently got released on blu-ray in the UK. So I said to myself, why not? The producer is Charles Band, and his filmography is terrible uneven. But on the other side, it's directed by talented Ted Nicolaou - so that won me over. Most reviews I've read is very, very, very positive - but I'm not sure I can agree totally on that. What I find is a very ambitious movie, the first US production shot on Romanian soil, with overall good actors and fine effects. But it also feels a bit too restrained for it's own good.
This is the story about Radu (Anders Hove), who actually was the brother to the more famous Vlad the Impaler. He's tired of being controlled by his father (played by Angus Scrimm in a ridicolous wig), kills him and takes over the castle. He also tears of three of his fingers and transforms them to red, small devils (no, there's never a Band-production without evil little critters). Some time later three american girls comes to Transylvania to... do something, maybe some research - and of course they ends up in the nasty claws of Radu!
I was a bit unfocused when I watched it and... yeah, the story was a bit thin. I could spend the entire review whining about that, but I won't. It could have been a lot better, a lot more grittier - and more violent - but I guess the low budget and the fact that they was the first US production to be shot in Romania haltered the flow a bit. What they have instead is fantastic locations, nature and a nice cast of Romanian talents who seems to fucking love what they're doing. Anders Hove is of course the highligh, what an intense performance! He's drooling, bleeding, twitching like a dying animal, screaming... just being extreme. He's not a handsome vampire, and we should be grateful for that.
Now when I'm writing the review the movie feels a bit better than what I felt after watching it the first time. Maybe I needed some time to think about it, analyze it. I have a feeling that part 2 will be a lot better though, so I might try to watch it before the weekend. It depends on what workload awaits the me upcoming day - and this weekend I'll go to a geekend in the woods - only watching VHS!
Anyway, Subspecies is a very ambitious and great-looking vampire movie. It's a story for adults, not for teens or kids. It just dares to be grotesque and gothic, and that makes it a damn fine production. Try it out! Let me know what you think!