While there are literally hundreds of vampire movies, most of them can be broken up into two separate varieties. In some of them a vampire is almost a tragic figure who while must indulge in nightly blood-lust to survive, does so almost regrettably. Much like Edward from Twilight; vampires in these sorts of films are usually portrayed as attractive, cultured men whose have the utmost in manners and social graces of any count unless you catch them snacking or try and bother them during the day. The other half of vampire movies are simply horror films about ugly, physically powerful, terrible looking fanged beast men that communicate only in growling, veiled threats when they are stalking a victim, and triumphant gloating once they have struck down an enemy. The reason I am bringing this up is this film is the first attempt I have ever seen to portray both sides of the vampire mythos in a single film, and while it wasn't exquisitely crafted, it was true to its source material.
When the film begins the wise and just King Vladislav Valescu (the lord of all vampires) realizes he is close to death so he summons for his “honorable” Son Stephan to take over the family castle and his most prized possession, the Bloodstone. But unluckily for everyone, his other evil, illegitimate vampire son Radu shows up to contest the will, (talk about a bloodsucking relative). Radu, murders his father at once by deliberately breaking his foot long, Nosferatu fingers off which then morph into foot long, stop motion demons (subspecies) which obey his every command. So ends a centuries old truce between the vampires and human residents of Pledmar Transylvania...
Soon a trio of young college students: Mara, Michelle and Lillian show up to study local folklore, and they meet a mysterious young man who also resides at the village in where they reside, and it soon becomes apparent that he is none other than Stefan, the rightful air to to the Vladislav castle. Yet while Michelle and Stefan begin a basic albiet ill-advised courtship, Radu has other plans for the lot of them which while admittedly are nowhere as romantic as the aspirations of Stephan are perhaps more logically if not logically steeped in vampire myth and mythos.
While this is among the most authentically atmospheric Full Moon monster movies I have ever seen as it actually was filmed in Romania, taking place on sets and in settings that just seemed natural vampire habitats, the stop motion matte work of the tiny subspecies demons that Radu summons were absolutely terrible in their evil unrealism. If you like stories of vampires, or if you simply want to see the two types of vampire archetype in the same movie for perhaps the first time in any film, this might bring you a toothy grin or two indeed. Just beware, the pacing of this thing is traditional, as in the monster movies of the black and white movie era, so the action moves so slow at times, even the scant spilled blood of the onscreen victims seems to coagulate a bit by the time this thing finds its own unselfish, “sacrificial” love story which is always at the center of all good vampire tales. When all is said and done the one thing you will remember about this film (if not all all future installments) is the decent acting of man who plays “Radu”. He's a guy by the name Anders Hove who has made quite a living for himself as playing the bad guy in foreign monster movies with titles I can't even buy in this country much less pronounce correctly. Good for him. May his career endure as long as the tormented life of Radu himself. Seriously, without his trademark seething, fiendish portrayal of Mr Hove much of this would be unwatchable if not utterly laughable as seen over twenty years later.
Subspecies is another popular Full Moon franchise with a cult following that they chose to immortalize in Blu-ray. There are actually five films in the series, but unlike Puppet Master, most horror heads have never heard of any of them. The video specs are an average 1080 dpi. and the audio is flat and muddled but at least it's rendered in Dolby 2.0. Yet considering the limitations of the limitations of the original source tape back in the day this is probably the best we can ever hope for. Extras include a behind the scenes short feature and six video trailers. Look, it's probably not going to win many converts among the modern movie-going vampire lovers who have been spoiled by the teen angsty love story and top notch computer generated action sequences of Twilight, but if you have seen this movie before, and liked it, or if my review intrigues, you should know that this old B movie “left for dead” vampire franchise has never looked more alive than it does now in Blu-ray.
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