The sequel to “Subspecies” is intriguing, for several reasons. First up is the name. In the special features which Full Moon used to put at the end of all their VHS tapes (and subsequent reissues, I think they’ve stopped doing it for new stuff as a matter of course though), we found out from part 1 that the titular creatures were the little gargoyle-looking fellows that evil vampire Radu could create from his own blood – or possibly finger ends, it was never really clear. Anyway, one would expect a movie named after the blighters to have them in it, from time to time. Well, apart from the “previously on Subspecies” recap, which is done with in two minutes, we get nary a single sighting – they even made it to the movie’s poster, indicating head honcho Charles Band’s love of all things miniature was not to be thwarted by something as insignificant as them not being in it.
So for those of you keeping score at home, evil vampire Radu had been decapitated, staked and then just left in the middle of the floor, while good vamp Stefan and his love Michelle, who’d been bitten by both brothers, went for a sleep in a nearby coffin. The subspecies helped Radu’s head back near his body and removed the stake, and after a surprisingly good re-attaching effect, Radu’s back! Michelle sensed danger or couldn’t sleep or something, so went for a stroll (with the Bloodstone, which Stefan had liberated at the end of part 1) and while she was off, Radu staked Stefan who just immediately turned to ash. He wasn’t bothered about coming back for the sequel, and neither was original Michelle actress Laura Tate, replaced by Denice Duff.
A brief aside – Tate was an atypical, and therefore interesting, horror heroine. Short hair, tomboyish look, remained fully clothed throughout, smart and resourceful. Duff is much more stereotypical – long curly hair, gorgeous, flowing dresses, a couple of “tasteful” nude scenes, and doesn’t have the sense she was born with (okay, that’s down to the script, I guess). I think Duff fits the atmosphere much better, as it turns out, but it would have been nice to see Tate have a go at the sequel.
When she discovers her boyfriend has been turned into dust, Michelle hightails it to Bucharest with nothing but a few crumpled dollars, her passport and the Bloodstone. Because Radu can turn into a shadow now and cover large distances in no time at all, he follows along, as it turns out his Mum, the evil witch, is still alive, living in a Bucharest cellar, looking like a particular ugly and dried-up zombie.
She, for reasons the movie never bothers to clue us in on, wants the Bloodstone. I mentioned in my review of part 1 that you could remove it from the plot and everything would be exactly the same, and that criticism can also be levelled at part 2. Apart from Michelle drinking a few drops of blood from it, no-one uses it for any purpose and it doesn’t seem to confer any power or other abilities on anyone. It’s not even really a MacGuffin – those drive the plot, this is completely secondary to it. Oh, there’s some reference to it containing “the blood of the Saints”, but this is never elaborated on either.
Michelle calls her sister Rebecca (Melanie “daughter of William” Shatner), who drops everything to fly out from the USA to Romania, and the rest of the movie is Rebecca, the hot guy from the US Embassy, and a weird old professor called Popescu, traipsing round the sights we remember from the first movie. That sounds a little dismissive, and it shouldn’t be – while I think Michelle loses her mind a little quickly, phoning her sister up and then doing everything in her power to not see her, it’s a decent, solidly plotted movie.
The Romanian locations are used to the fullest, with more stuff filmed in the centre of Bucharest this time. It was a fascinating looking city, and it again gives what was a fairly low-budget movie a boost. Strong camerawork too, with some lovely shots (particularly of Duff, who just has the perfect look for this movie). And the acting is good too! Even the people you’d expect to be weaker, like the Professor, are fine, and there’s a nice Full Moon strand of humour running through things too.
So, aside from an irrelevant title and a non-MacGuffin, we’re onto another winner. Oh, I suppose the ending is a bit dumb, but I’ll leave you to ponder that one for yourselves (I will say, though, “why didn’t they wait inside, together?”).
Rating: thumbs up