Subspecies Blu-rayDirector: Ted Nicolaou

Starring: Anders Hove, Irina Movila, Michelle McBride, Laura Mae Tate, Michael Watson, Ivan J. Rado, Angus Scrimm,

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Certificate: 18

Extras: Audio Commentary, Interviews

In the depths of what the uneducated may call ‘bad cinema’ is a little production outfit known as Full Moon Features. Probably most famous for their PUPPET MASTER trilogy, they also spawned a series of vampire films (of which this is the first), known as SUBSPECIES. 88 Films are now bringing these features to Blu-ray, and all is WOW! Films this ‘bad’ never looked so good.

First of all let’s clear up the term ‘bad’, because SUBSPECIES is not in any way a bad film. Campy? At times. Low-budget? Certainly. But what SUBSPECIES has in abundance is something no amount of budget or time can get you, passion! Throughout this first offering it is clear the creators/actors/make-up designers love their vampires. The opening gives endearing nods towards classic vamipiric pictures such as NOSFERATU, with elongated fingers and shadows that glide freely across the stone. Which, particularly when in comparison to recent release THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART II, is a reminder of the greatness this subgenre can hold.

The opening also gives “classical” performances from Anders Hove (Radu Vladislas) and genre fave Angus Scrimm as they chew over each line before delivering them in geographically ambiguous accents. We are then introduced to Radu’s father, from whom Radu attempts to recover the Bloodstone – a relic said to drip blood of the saints. Aiding his attempt to recover are imaginatively created creatures realised through some fantastically obvious stop-motion animation –an early sign our imaginations will be required for the film to work.

Following this we meet three girls studying their PhDs in Radu’s homeland, Romania. With classic Hollywood tropes – stone castles, warnings from a gypsy, a small town of paranoid individuals with strange customs  – subverted so many times,SUBSPECIES still manages to feel refreshing and original, with these elements developing the mood and atmosphere.

These days a lot of B-Movies tend to lean towards purposefully camp and cheesy as a way to apologise for their lack of resources. What makes SUBSPECIES such a treat, is that the film takes itself seriously and pushes itself so hard, but never has delusions of grandeur. With a sharply paced script and convincing performances, SUBSPECIES should certainly be on your shelf. It may be ‘too 90s’ for some of the younger readers, and B-Movies aren’t for everyone, but these are problems buried deep within the audience and not the film itself. And with the sequel released on the same day, those who find enjoyment can dive straight back into the world of SUBSPECIES.

Extras: The interviews are rather interesting and don’t shy away from listing some of Nicolaou and Hove’s complaints. They also tease away at a SUBSPECIES 5. Just a word of warning to newcomers, the interviews do contain some spoilers for films later in the series such as SUBSPECIES 2 and 3. The commentary is also very informative, and once again hints towards the passion behind the project. The transfer is as wonderful as it deserves to be, but I do kind of wish there was an option to view the film as a pre-owned VHS, full screen, tracking lines etc. Just to add to the experience.

4 StarsSUBSPECIES and SUBSPECIES 2 are released on DVD and Blu-ray 18th March and can be pre-ordered via this link. The review for SUBSPECIES 2 will be up soon.