It’s been a little bit since I really dug deep into some vampires for an extended period of time. It’s also been a while since I looked at a movie from Full Moon Features. So, how do I propose to fix that? BOOM! A whole month of Subspecies movies!
So here we are, the 1991 Full Moon feature, Subspecies, starring Anders Hove, Laura Tate, and the beloved Angus Scrimm.
Let’s think of the title of this series for a moment – Subspecies. As a word, it indicates that there is a species that are, I dunno, like living below other species. You know, SUBspecies? Well, yes, this is a vampire movie. Yes, it mostly takes place in the Carpathian Mountains. That means this nebulously revolves around the legend of Dracula. But what makes this movie a little different is the title creatures themselves – the Subspecies. These are little goblin guys who serve our lead vampire, Radu (Hove).
The plot seems pretty simple: Radu, evil vampire extraordinaire, goes on the hunt for the legendary Bloodstone so he can rise to his proper birthright. Meanwhile, a couple college girls from America, Michelle and Lillian, come to Romania to study the culture with a local girl, Mara. Soon, they come face to face with Radu and the Bloodstone. From there, all sorts of hell breaks loose and Radu has to be defeated once and for all (despite the fact there are three more movies in this series).
What more do I need to say before I dive in? We got vampires and little goblins and college babes. Keep in mind that this is also in the heyday of Full Moon where they load up the movie with atmospheric fog and actual seemingly European look and feel for the visuals. This is also one of the good ones of that heyday too, so let’s get going, shall we?
The movie opens with Radu seeing his father, King Vladislav (Scrimm). Apparently, Radu was banished and therefore isn’t able to claim the cherished Bloodstone on the evening of some great festival. Instead, his younger brother, Stefan, will inherit it. You know what I can’t get past though? Check out Angus Scrimm here:
There’s no fucking way that is not the former lead guitarist of The Beatles, right? Seriously, did ANYone say what I saw instantaneously – “Hey, that’s George Harrison, right?”
Alright. Anyway, the King is ready for Radu to come all angry over not getting the Bloodstone. He sets a trap that is designed to trap Radu in a cage to prevent him from committing patricide. That said, Radu is prepared as well. He literally breaks off the edges of his fingers which then turn into little goblins – our titular Subspecies, if you will. He stabs his father, killing him. He licks his father’s blood off his dagger and our credits roll.
It is cool, and I eluded to it previously, that this movie is actually filmed in Romania. See, this was the time of Full Moon having some power. They were mainstays on video store shelves. Those videos were being released through Paramount too. So this is definitely in the time in which they can get some nice shots of the city or country that they are supposedly in as opposed to stuff like The Gingerdead Man or Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt which mostly take place in a static single, indoors location.
Alright, so our main college babes from the United States, Michele and Lillian arrive from America and meet a local friend of theirs, Mara, at the train station. They hop in a real hunk of shit Eastern European car and go into the village of Prejmer in Transylvania. They meet Karl, Ian, and Rosa who basically take care of this walled of town.
They learn more about their fortress surroundings. They learn about Vlad Dracul and his defense of the area. I guess the festival everyone celebrates in Prejmar is for when the vampires actually saved the people of the village. So the vampires, at least in this story, don’t seem to be considered a curse or a blight, but saviors. Well, at least at some point in time. The girls learn there is another lodger in the same fortress as they are staying. He’s apparently a zoologist or something, but Karl says they won’t see him as he’s too busy with his work.
Meanwhile, Radu tasks his Subspecies to retrieve the Bloodstone. And look at these little guys. They are just the coolest looking little demon guys. These were a combination of puppets and stop motion creatures. It’s always a joy to see something like that in movies. Granted, back then, I doubt it would have even been possible to animate something like we see today. In 1991, computer-generated creatures would not be possible. Guys in rubber suits may not have looked quite right. No, this was the lost art of maquette work and stop motion animation. I love it.
The girls go exploring and when Lillian tries to sneak into a castle’s door, she cuts herself and the trio decide they probably need to get back to their room and clean it up. As they walk away, Radu opens the door and watches them with curiosity. I mean he’s a vampire and they are babes. Naturally, he’s curious about what they were up to.
Michele does some reading and quickly discovers something strange – the castle Radu is living in, despite all its grandeur, isn’t mentioned in any books regarding the local lore. That’s when Stefan enters saying that sometimes some places are only visible to the most sensitive of eyes. This immediately causes Michele to wet ’em. Stefan is a hunky zoologist. And it should be mentioned that, if you were paying attention earlier, he’s Radu’s brother. He says he wished only to introduce himself to not alarm them if they notice he comes and goes at odd hours. You see, he’s studying the various nocturnal creatures in the area.
Har har… nocturnal creatures…
Anyway, the girls continue to learn more about the local folklore tales of vampires and gypsies and such. Supposedly, one of the stories told by a local woman tells the tale of a gypsy who “acquired” the Bloodstone from Rome and gave it to King George Harrison and no one in Prejmar has been bitten since. However, she also warns to stay away from the ruins where the vampires are said to sleep to not disrupt the peace.
That evening, after napping for two hours, the girls hurry back to their accommodations. They need to take a shortcut through the woods while ol’ Radu watches on. Mara hears strange noises and calls the other’s attention to it. The noise is being made by Subspecies. They soon see Radu hanging out in a tree and are scared off. Luckily Stefan is there to hunk the place up. After seeing the girls safely back to the fortress, he goes to his father’s castle, which we will call “Crackerbox Palace”. Here, he discovers that King George Harrison has been killed by his brother who’s got his mind set on the Bloodstone.
So… I guess Stefan knows all about what Radu’s plan is, huh? Is he gonna do something about it? No? What’s up with that? Is there something he’s gotta do first? No? Well, alright!
Okay, so now that Hunky McVampireman is done being completely useless to his brother’s rampage, Radu goes to Lillian’s room and sees that nice, convenient cut on her arm to feed from. That ain’t enough for this dude, though. He’s gotta check out her boobs. He pulls down her shirt to take a look at that chest and then goes in for a bite on her neck, but Stefan and Karl scare him off. Stefan chases Radu out into the open, but as the sun rises, he grows weak and he’s too far from his crypt to make it back in time. Radu tells him that he plans to take the fortress and the three babes as his fuck buddies. Karl then comes and gets Stefan to his coffin and safety.
Jesus Christ. Stefan is completely useless. He gets beaten up by Radu when he discovered their dad dead on the floor. He can’t effectively chase after Radu after he bit one of the babes. He’s a wimp! It’s a good thing Karl knows what’s what. He’s fashioning up some stakes to use against some blood-sucking jerks! While he was getting ready for battle, a doctor comes to see Lillian and is rather concerned over her wound on her arm. Apparently, Karl has been fixin’ to off Radu for some time. He tells Stefan that he could never quite get close enough to drive the stake through is heart. Stefan asks Karl to get the girls out of there before tomorrow night. He also admits that he’s falling in love with Michele.
Well, it looks like the perfect time for a party… and it is some really pretty creepy shit.
You know, vampire festivals with freaky, dick nose masks rank right up there with islands run by a cult of women with a bunch of bees and an intense love of Burning Man. I don’t want anything to do with them. Don’t give me that shit that it’s a culture that is rich in history or anything like that. I’m not xenophobic, but I’m also gonna be quick to call something out as creepy.
The old gypsy lady the girls spoke to earlier tells others not to speak to the outsiders because they are here to “awaken the devil!” This is all lining up to be one of those nights people will either remember for, like, EVER or not live through to tell others about.
As unnerving as everything going on around the place is, Mara tells Michele about how they got rid of vampires. You know, the general stake through the heart, decapitation, remove the heart and boil it, you know, the normal stuff of what I would call a “typical Thursday night” around here. She’s saying it with all the sexiness I could possibly hope for when explaining the rituals of curing vampirism from a blonde Eastern European babe. Mara is played by Irina Movila. She’s not done much outside of this movie, but she followed Subspecies up with a movie called Cum va place? To which I say, “Yes, ma’am, I can dig it.” Considering it is literally translated to How Do You Like It?, I most definitely can say, “Whatever floats your boat, babe.”
Michele goes to check on Lillian after she gets some strange vibes from loverboy Stefan. The gypsy lady follows but gets killed by Radu. Mara sees Radu and eventually gets attacked by him. When Michelle gets back to Lillian’s room, she sees Radu feeding on Lillian. Stefan and Karl aren’t able to stop Radu from getting away. Stefan explains himself to Michele about being a peaceful vampire and not like Radu. He also tells her that she needs to get Lillian the fuck out of there in the morning. If Mara doesn’t return by dawn, Karl will find her so she can get the hell outta Dodge too.
Speaking of the lovely Mara, Radu’s done me a solid and ripped her shirt all up. Either he got rid of her bra too, or she’s just not into them. I think it’s also safe to now admit that I feel as though I have a bit of a kinship with this weirdo murder monster Radu. I like boobies. He likes boobies. I like Eastern European boobies. He likes Eastern European boobies. I’m comfortable with this dark revelation in me. Radu leaves her in the care of the Subspecies who look as though they want to use her body as a jungle gym while she’s chained to a wall.
Morning comes and apparently Lillian has died. Karl returns to say he hasn’t found Mara and the villagers are rightfully scared since that one old lady was found dead with her throat ripped out and such. Things are not looking too good. Taking no chances, the villagers took the old lady and staked her and cut off her head and stuck it on a fucking pike. Hoping for that to not be Lillian’s fate, Karl and Michele bury her. He takes Michele to where Radu sleeps with the plan to destroy him before he can do much more damage.
They sneak into the crypt to find Radu’s coffin and when they find it, they open it to find it empty. That night, Lillian rises from her grave and joins Radu as his sexy vampire college babe. Stefan, Karl, and Michele plan to save Mara. He finds her chained up, but, because he is completely useless, he is captured by the Subspecies. That should show you the usefulness of our hunky hero that the tiny minions of the evil vampire man captured him.
Lillian tricks Michele into coming outside of a church where she was staying safe and is captured by Radu. She wakes up shackled to the wall near Mara. Using the stake that hunky man left when he was captured, she frees herself and gets Mara free too, only to soon discover that Mara is acting so weird because she’s now also a sexy vampire college babe.
So Radu has Stefan chained up so he can watch his girlfriend get desecrated by his monster brother and his sexy vampire college babes. Radu bites Michele and in comes Karl to blast Mara with some buckshot made of rosary beads. Karl frees Stefan and the brothers have a sword fight because… sure. Lillian and Michele have a sexy college babe fight where one is waving around a torch and the other is a vampire. In other words, a typical Sunday afternoon bout at my place. Anyway, a chandelier falls on Lillian and kills her. As Radu is about to kill Stefan, hero man finally does something right by staking Radu with a flaming stake. He then cuts off his monster brother’s head and things seem to be in pretty good shape. Well… Other than Michele’s best friends being dead, Radu fucking everything up, and things mostly being a shitacular sandwich made of cat puke and turds.
But that’s not all!
As it turns out, Radu didn’t just bite Michele, but mixed his blood with hers so she’s got a one way ticket to Monster Town, Population: Her. Stefan decides he has to turn her so she will be more benevolent like him and less of a gross, drooling monster guy like Radu. I’m sure with their love that seems so strong that not even a killer monster vampire man can tear them asunder, they will have lots of adventures to tell in the sequels as they continue to defend the world from Radu…
Wait, what’s that? He’s instantly killed in the sequel by the resurrected Radu moments after the first film ended? Well… Fuck. Stefan is a worthless shit of a hunky vampire hero.
Also, spoilers for next week’s feature…
All said and done, this movie is most definitely one of the highlights of Full Moon Features. It’s got atmosphere to spare, a really cool looking lead in Anders Hove, and some cute ladies. It’s definitely made on a budget as there really aren’t that many people in the movie with speaking parts. But what is budgeted for definitely shows up nicely in the movie. It’s no Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but you can see how this becomes a hit on home video and spawn sequels throughout the rest of the 90s.
And, as I mentioned earlier, that’s how we are going to spend the rest of this month – looking at the series as a whole. Next week, come back for Bloodstone: Subspecies II so we can finally see Stefan fail completely within the first minutes of the movie.