Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Year in Review: Subspecies Quintology

Full Moon is a company that I both love and hate.  On one hand, they make decent movies on a low-budget and manage to turn enough of a profit to keep running.  On the other hand, they often make crappy films that defy explanation like The Gingerdead Man trilogy (Part 3 is in-production now) or Evil Bong 1-2.  Where does there vampire series from the early to mid-90s stand?  Find out in these reviews...

Subspecies: This movie is good, as long as you can appreciate some low-budget horror.  Filmed on location in Romania, the producers made good use of their location and their one crazy-looking vampire (Radu).  The film is not without it's flaws, mind you.  It starts out a bit slow and wastes a talent like Angus Scrimm in a cameo role as the head vampire.  It also inadvertently sets up some plot holes that would come later.  Even so, it is a good movie that any fan of unique vampire films should check out.

Subspecies II: Right from the start, this movie pulls out some blatant cheats, lazy writing and recasting.  When you get past that, you get a decent vampire film that manages to work most of the time in spite of these flaws.  Even so, it is hard to get past the beginning.  This is especially true when you do like I did and watch them both on the same night.  Either way, it is not as good as its predecessor and also suffers from a tacked-on 'To Be Continued' ending.

Subspecies III: We're back again in the second part of a group of movies filmed at the same time a la Lord of the Rings.  For the third time, Radu is back from the dead and is evil mother has some plans for our heroine.  The film is oddly juxtaposed between two plots: one dealing with the newly-vampiric heroine and other dealing with her sister trying to get her.  The film is weighed down a bit by ancillary characters, most of which are just there to die.  As a whole, it is a touch better than two though.

Subspecies IV: The movie starts off- like most of these restarts- with a big cheat and some lazy writing.  Basically, the happy and conclusive ending of Part III is crapped upon by Radu's unexplained resurrection and the death of 99% of the main cast.  If you can get past this, you get a decent movie, but one that retreads a lot of the same locations.  At this point, they have shot every angle of that castle they've been using since the first film.  They do through a new angle in with an evil half-vampire doctor, but it never ends conclusively.  They also introduce some major plot holes and a pointless sub-plot involving the police chief.  It's definitely not the best of the series.

The Vampire Journals: While not officially part of the series, this is by the same director and references events and characters that would show up in that series.  The plot is pretty simple and hampered a bit by an ineffectually-written lead character.  They also address one of the series' silly effects like its real science in a laughable scene.  If this film fits in the series, good luck finding out where.  There's no place for it, unless you stretch logic farther than super-fresh taffy!  It does have some differing story elements in it that make it stand out a bit from the other films though.

That's the series in a nutshell.  Is it consistent?  No.  Is it logical?  No.  Is it better than the admittedly-low bar of low-budget vampire movies?  For the most part, yes.  If nothing else, it is worth seeing one of the films to see Radu in action.  Damn, is he ugly!

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