Saturday, October 26, 2013

SUBSPECIES 4: BLOODSTORM (1998)

Son, no one is more surprised than me that I have enjoyed the SUBSPECIES movies this much.  If Part 4 can stick the landing, this might be in the running for best horror franchise of all time.

SYNOPSIS: Last time on SUBSPECIES, Radu had a manly death while Michelle was hauled out in a bodybag to protect her vampire body from sunlight.  We slam in medias res in SUBSPECIES 4, with annoying characters dead in an apparent car accident, Radu resurrected, and Michelle still stuck in the bodybag.  She's found by a woman named Ana (pretty, good actress Ioana Abur), who takes her to Dr. Nicolescu (also good actor, William Regal-esque Mihai Dinvale).  Meanwhile, in another part of the plot, Radu meets up with his former fledgling Ash and Ash's girl fledgling Serena.  Radu bullies them and acts like the world's worst houseguest.  Vampire secrets are uncovered, Michelle must choose between her mortal side and vampire side, and we get a solid resolution of the SUBSPECIES saga.  

WHAT WORKED:
This is SUBSPECIES, you know how we do it: Anders Hove.  He has a deathgrip on Radu and his turn in SUBSPECIES 4 is equal to any of his previous efforts in the preceding movies.  I love the look of post-burning, post-impalement Radu.  The makeup's a little more natural while simultaneously a little more monsterlike.  Since Ma Radu isn't around to menace people and flash her bling, Radu is our main villain figure and again proves to be the best possible choice.


The mild comedy and romantic entanglements of Part 3 have been purged and what's left is a revenge-minded Radu who wreaks his vengeance with style, even when he looks like the vampire version of a drunken bum.


Usually, adding scads of new characters in a later sequel is a risky proposition.  But goddamn if all of them don't work!  Especially cool are Radu's old fledgling Ash and his newest girl-vamp Serena.  Radu's scenes with them are The Best Ever, as he executes a vampire hostile takeover of their businesses and even their house.  


New characters!  I really liked Ioana Abur as Ana.  She picks up the Final Girl slack here, as Denice Duff is busy flip-flopping from remorse about being a vamp to gnoshing on a plastic plasma bag.  Ladies, diets, amirite?

But, yeah, Duff is as good as usual and Abur is quite impressive.  Her character's interactions and relationship with Dr. Nicolescu mirror the Radu/Michelle dynamic, giving SUBSPECIES 4 a lot of enjoyable balance.  


Guess what else?  Marin (sort of) survived SUBSPECIES 3 after all!  Spoiler!  He's basically a minor character in this and acts as Radu's quasi-Renfield, but it's still great to see him again.


WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
Honestly, it's hard to pin a lot of flaws on SUBSPECIES 4.  A picky critic might point to the continued flaunting of the earlier film's reliance on shadows and light—most of what's here is dark and murky—but the new feel fits this entry's more somber mood and, as the screenshot below shows, it's not like the scenes are framed with any less care.  They're just different!

This might be the best of the SUBSPECIES series!  Knocks on the door of 7, but ultimately more good and fun than truly life-altering and great.  Still, the consistency and quality of this series really deserves applause.  Hats off to Full Moon, Ted Nicolaou, Anders Hove, Denice Duff, and the vampire-haunted nation of Romania.

RATING: 6

SERIES AVERAGE: 6

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