Full Moon Entertainment had a deal with Paramount, to produce low-budget but still decent entertainment for their home video section, along with the occasional cinema release. Paramount got more stock for their catalogue, Full Moon got financing and distribution. This was a sweet deal, but with changes in the market, Paramount cut ties finally in 1995. Full Moon were going to make two movies for them for proper cinema release, but Paramount cancelled that deal, and they could see the writing on the wall. So they took what were going to be higher budget shoots, for “Subspecies 2” and “Puppet Master 4”, and got those crews to make two cheaper direct-to-video movies each.
This caused a problem for the subject of this review, and it’s the same one “Puppet Master” 4 and 5 had, which is they didn’t bother writing enough plot for 2 movies. Michelle, the beautiful new vampire (Denice Duff) was re-captured in the terrible non-ending of part 2, then spends the entirety of part 3 in the thrall of Radu (Anders Hove), vacillating between wanting to learn all the powers of being a vampire, and wanting to die. Her sister Rebecca (Melanie Shatner) and Mel, the guy from the US Embassy (Kevin Spirtas) sort of flirt with each other; and replacing the comic relief Professor is a comic relief cop, Lieutenant Marin (Ion Haiduc, a decent actor considering it’s not his first language). Radu’s mother, an immortal witch I guess, doesn’t like Michelle so there’s going to be a showdown between mother and son.
Here’s how they could have done it. Michelle escapes the castle at the beginning of part 2 and calls her sister. She then gets recaptured by Radu and this training / indoctrination from part 3 starts. Rebecca arrives, then meets up with the guy from the Embassy and a local cop, and the three of them try to track down Radu. They find out about the professor but perhaps there’s a confrontation at his office, as our heroes get the information they need but the Prof still dies. All this while, Michelle sees a chink in the mother-son armour, so starts criticising her to Radu, which leads to their eventual confrontation. A tooled up and prepared Rebecca turns up at the castle, ready to fight for Michelle.
Okay, I’m not a scriptwriter, and I hate armchair-quarterbacks when it comes to movies, but the above is just an example of how to fit the decent bits of plot from the last two movies into one. I’m not saying “Subspecies 3” is full of padding, necessarily, it’s just full of not-terribly-interesting stuff, and as neither film is very long (80 minutes each) there could be one very good movie to be made out of these two okay ones.
I think I understood what the movie was going for, but I think they let themselves down a little. Take Radu and his Mummy – the sole foreshadowing for them having their final “argument” is a few crossed words earlier on, so given how devoted he was towards her, it felt like it came out of nowhere. And Michelle didn’t sell the conflict between wanting to become a proper vampire and wanting to die / escape; the idea was good (if beyond played out) but the execution was weak.
Of course, it’s a bit “Beauty And The Beast” as well, with Anders Hove occasionally nailing the performance. He seems to have forgotten how to act since part 1, though, and he really hams it up here. I never really got that he was as in love with her as his actions indicate, but he tries I suppose. A lot is made by this movie’s defenders of its tragic love story, but she’s certainly never in love with him and he vacillates between extreme love and “I’m just off to murder your family and friends now, see you in a bit”.
The special effects are a mix of brilliant and terrible, with little in between. Radu’s face and fingers are excellent, and the various death scenes are gory and look convincing. However, the shadow effect, used to decent effect in part 2, is awful here. I think they might have used proper lighting to create shadows in that one, but in this the money must have gone so it was all done via the medium of animation, and looks terrible.
Still, I have to give them credit. The Subspecies and the Bloodstone actually appeared useful, right at the end (well, the Subspecies themselves are in about 1 minute per movie, nice work if you can get it). I don’t know. I’ll leave the discussion of how they left Radu at the end of this movie in my discussion of part 4, should you wish to join me.
Rating: thumbs in the middle