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John’s Horror Corner: Subspecies III: Bloodlust (1994), a fun watch for fans of the franchise, but it’s lost a good bit of the joie de vive that fueled part 2 and made part 1 a breakthrough DTV vampire film

December 6, 2013

MY CALL:  Overall a fun watch for fans of the franchise, but it’s lost a good bit of the joie de vive that fueled part 2 and made part 1 a breakthrough DTV film.  MOVIES LIKE Subspecies III:  Hopefully you saw Subspecies (1991) and Subspecies II (1993), and perhaps Subspecies IV (1998).  For more pseudoromantic monster movies try Dark Angel: The Ascent (1994) and Bleeders (1997).  SIDEBAR:  This was filmed back to back with Subspecies II, which follows in the spirit of the franchise by picking up exactly where this movie ends.

Michelle’s sister Becky (Melanie Shatner; The Alien Within, Subspecies III, Star Trek V) narrates as this sequel picks up immediately where Subspecies II left off:  After defeating Radu (Anders Hove; Subspecies I-IV, Critters 4), Becky must wait until dark to escape with her vampire sister Michelle (Denice Duff; Subspecies IIIV, Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation), who is abducted in the final moments by Radu’s “Mummy” (Pamela Gordon; Weird Science, Poltergeist II, Subspecies II, Alien Nation), a crone-like ghoul akin to an unwrapped mummy.

While not holding a candle to the AMAZING opening scene of Subspecies II, Bloodlust opens with a brief, concerted effort at delivering some gore, wincing wrist slicing and face stabs to get us excited in this sequel’s opening.  During this scene, Mummy resurrects Radu and the two of them steal Michelle away because, evidently, Michelle and Radu are to be bound together forever.  That’s Radu’s idea anyway.

It’s a little early in your relationship to be giving her family heirlooms.  Especially when the former owner, your Mummy, is still alive and doesn’t want to give it up!  I don’t care if she is 1000 years old.

Yup. Radu, you need to slow your roll. It’s clear you’re way more into this relationship than she is.

Bro, watching her sleep like that…not helping.

“Why won’t you love me?”

With little contribution from Lt. Marin (Ion Haiduc; Subspecies II-IV, Dark Angel: The Ascent, Mimic: Sentinel), Becky and embassy representative Mel (Kevin Spirtas; Friday the 13th Part VII, The Hills Have Eyes Part II, Subspecies II) continue to try to save Michelle for the entire second act of the movie.  This portion of the story is slow, unexciting, and hardly informative–it just drags.  Meanwhile Mummy whispers poison in Radu’s ear in hopes that he’ll destroy Michelle instead of weaning her away from her ties to mortality.  Ignoring the classic adage that “evil witch vampire Mummy knows best,” Radu teaches Michelle to focus her heightened senses, move through the shadows and hunt human prey.

The best part of this movie was when we were finally rid of this worthless character (Marin).

Normally these vampire tutoring/self-realization scenes are great (e.g., Interview with a Vampire, We Are the Night ). But they are just okay and mostly serve to convey Michelle’s eventual disgust for this kind of life.

Mummy gets a of screen time and action in this movie–plus a lot of bickering with her son Radu.  Not that I’m not entertained by this, but it made the movie feel less serious and more bonkers, much as the undead Toulon did for Puppet Master II (1991).  To that end, the finale didn’t really offer much in the way of action except for Radu’s final moments (which was a cool, but brief death).  I find this to be a shame since Subspecies and the first 10 minutes of Subspecies II (in combination) make for a damn fine piece of work making a B+ movie from a B-budget.

Speaking of bonkers: here Mummy has killed a CIA agent (who dresses like a special ops soldier) armed with a machine gun using her knife.  She brought a knife to a gunfight and won!

As for the story… This entire film was about Radu’s imaginary romance with Michelle, which was never reciprocated, and Michelle’s acclimation to vampirism.  While I understood what the writer/director (Ted Nicolaou) was trying to do, it wasn’t done very effectively.  Moreover the subspecies demons, for which this franchise was named, do not even appear until the final few minutes of this film and the bloodstone, for which part 2 was named, played no bigger role in part 2 than in parts 1 or 3.

Part 3 is still overall a fun watch, but it’s lost a good bit of the joie de vive that fueled part 2 and made part 1 a breakthrough DTV film.  I’m sorry to say that director Ted Nicolaou (Subspecies I-II, Terror Vision, Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys) lost the inertia that started this franchise so powerfully.

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