Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993)

Unless Romania made its own vampire movies at some point during Nicolai Ceausescu's rein, I believe Subspecies was the first movie of its type actually made anywhere near where most of the tales take place.  Charles Band came up with the idea for a vampire film and Ted Nicolaou and a team made up largely of Romanian cinema veterans made the movie which ended up being a substantial hit for Full Moon.  Of course, Band was thinking more in financial terms than historical as the new government in Romania was more than happy to get some money for filming there while Band was happy with the price.

The advantage of filming on location is that Subspecies looked a lot better than it should, which is something it has in common with many of the Full Moon Video films of the early 1990s.  It also wasn't the only film Band made there to take advantage of that fact, but the most well-known are still the Subspecies films and, with things stabilizing, Nicolaou and company returned to film the next two movies in the series back-to-back. 

Despite being staked and beheaded Radu's (Anders Hove) minions return him to life.  He immediately stakes his brother Stefan in order to take the Bloodstone, but the sun begins to rise before he can kill Michelle (Denice Duff), and he leaves her and the stone behind to retrieve when he reawakens.  She wakes up before him, takes the stone and makes her way back to Bucharest where she contacts her sister Rebecca (Melanie Shatner) to come to Romania to help her. 

Michelle is ill-prepared for her change and, seeking to escape the daylight, falls asleep in the bathtub of her hotel room, where she is thought to be dead when the maids discover her.  Lt. Marin (Ion Haiduc) of the Bucharest police has her body removed, but she wakes up on the way to the morgue and goes into hiding in the Athenaeum, sleeping in a glass coffin in a disused prop room.  Meanwhile, Radu is tasked by his mother (Pamela Gordon) to retrieve the stone and either kill or bring Michelle to heel, while Rebecca arrives and begins searching for her sister.  With the help of Mel (Kevin Spirtas), an attaché from the American Embassy, and a history professor named Popescu (Michael Denish) she learns more about what has happened to her sister and the danger she is in.

Predictably this ends in more of a cliffhanger than the first did as Bloodlust: Subspecies III followed the next year and was already pretty much completed when this got released on video.  It is surprising that some of Full Moon's movies didn't at least get a limited theatrical release, as the original and this sequel don't look as limited in budget as some of the company's other films.  Much of it is due to the fact that the crew got to use real castles, real hotel rooms and real locations, avoiding the expense of having to build a number of sets.  There are still some, but I would hazard that they were constructed where the crew was already filming. 

The Radu makeup on Anders Hove has improved, with his fingers looking more realistic rather than rubbery extensions.  The makeup on Mummy, as Radu calls her, is wonderful as well.  Other than Stefan and King Vladislav the majority of vampire makeup in this makes them look more like monsters, particularly unhygienic rodent-like creatures that recall the makeup used on Max Schreck in Nosferatu, a Symphony of Terror.  It's a major departure from the more tragic creatures in Interview with a Vampire or Gary Oldman's portrayal of the world's most famous vampire in Bram Stoker's Dracula.  It's perhaps why this series, although it never quite lived up to the quality of the first two films after this, never devolved into a sad rinse-and-repeat money grab like the later Puppet Master films. 

Much of this also has to do with Anders Hove who does his best to portray Radu as a creature, not as a human being.  Though starring in a number of television shows and Lars Von Trier films he is still best known for this part, and he was good enough to elevate this beyond just being a video store staple.  Denice Duff isn't bad and, thankfully, Melanie Shatner inherited neither her dad's looks nor acting style, although the one who steals the show amongst the good guys is Michael Denish as the slightly addled Popescu.  He helps add a little humor to the proceedings.

I didn't know how this would be after all these years as I had seen it not long after it was released but have only recently been revisiting some of the Full Moon catalog.  Bloodstone holds up as well, and in some ways better than, as many low-budget horror films from the same time period.  The Subspecies series has a minor cult as it is, and it is too bad these films never got a chance on the big screen. 

Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993)
Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Melanie Shatner, Kevin Spirtas, Michael Denish, Pamela Gordon
Director: Ted Nicolaou



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