SYNOPSIS: We revisit the first SUBSPECIES to sift through the carnage of beheaded and chandelier-shattered bodies. We also learn that Radu's dismemberment looked worse that it was, and that he was soon well enough to dispatch handsomer brother Stefan. Then it's time for SUBSPECIES II to unfold, as newly-vampired Michelle escapes Castle Radu and drifts around Bucharest, learning about herself and evading her sister Becky. Radu wants his fledging back (and the Bloodstone that Michelle has taken) and gets advice from his "mommy", a rubbery alchemist lady.
BLOODSTONE features a big tonal shift from the misty castle horror of the first film and it's made crystal clear right from the earliest scenes. Recaps of the original SUBSPECIES are blatantly bloodier and gorier, and BLOODSTONE opts for more outrageousness than we saw in the rather nostalgic first film. You can tell a good chandelier because none of the candles will be disturbed, even when it becomes an instrument of murder.
The Radu regeneration scene plays like something out of RE-ANIMATOR or a Cronenberg film, for God's sake!
Anders Hove is again pretty spectacular as vampire Radu. He retains the menace and surreal touches of the character, but shifts his performance a bit to match BLOODSTONE's more colorful touches. Like when he calls his demonic sorceress zombie mother "Mommy". Radu actually gets pushed to the sidelines at times here, since BLOODSTONE is more or less the Vampire Michelle Story, but Hove's always a highlight.
The moviemakers also haven't forgotten how to utilize shadow and light, especially in the Radu scenes.
Denice Duff takes over the Michelle role from Laura Tate and it's probably not fair to compare them, because there's far more to the character in BLOODSTONE (it's not just, "Hi, I'm a grad student with an unfortunate haircut and I love Stefan, the end"). Even so, I really dug Duff and her novice vampire schtick. Linking vampism to sex is the oldest thing on Earth, but her first vamp attack in the middle of heavy petting is pretty great, especially with her humping bloodsuck. She's also good when she's not sexily killing people. I loved how her gait as a new vamp matched up to Radu's hulking walking style.
Overall, BLOODSTONE's a way better character movie than SUBSPECIES, and lots of the minor characters are surprisingly enjoyable. I loved the introduction of Radu's Mommy, as their bickering scenes are the best, plus nothing is more hilarious than watching an immobile rubber mask nibble blood off a knife like it's a cob of corn.
Also bringing the levity was the Romanian detective who cribbed his English from old American TV, including Big Bird!
And the quirky Romanian professor who has a thing for plum brandy and a probably-unrelated memory problem.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
Thankfully, the little red guys who were so hit or miss last night are mostly absent. But there are still effects debits. Radu's Mommy certainly looks cool, but the appliances are mostly nonmoving, so you have to pretend that you're not looking at a prop from an admittedly-impressive spookhouse.
There were a few characters that didn't really work for me. Michelle's sister is here To Be Very Concerned About Michelle and that's it. There's also a guy from the American Embassy, and he is also concerned. They have a lot of scenes together sans Radu or Michelle and it's all quite tedious. Oh, BLOODSTONE, you can't really give us alchemy-mommies and metalhead-blood-vomiting and then expect to switch to more generic stuff and keep our attention.
Wow, a pretty good movie! I agree with the choices and changes implemented in BLOODSTONE. If it doesn't shoot past SUBSPECIES (because apples/oranges, you know), it at least ties it. And I'm actually excited to see SUBSPECIES III! Check back tomorrow for crushing disappointment, probably!