Subspecies: The Awakening (1998)
By: Paul Ryan on August 28, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Force Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English 2.0. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: Ted Nicolaou Starring: Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Jonathan Morris, Ioana Abur, Mihai Dinvale
Screenplay: Ted Nicolaou Music: Rihcard Kosinski, William Levine, John Zeretzka
Tagline: "The Master's Revenge"
Country: USA/Romania
AKA: Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm
Subspecies: The Awakening is the fourth in Full Moon's series of vampire chillers that began with 1991's, Subspecies. Unfortunately for us Region 4 punters, the third film in the series, 1994's Bloodlust: Subspecies III has, as of this time of writing, never been released in Australia. Being the Charles Band enthusiast/completist/sucker (delete as applicable) that I am, this didn't stop me from diving headlong into this one. Like its predecessors, The Awakening deals with the age-old vampire Radu Vladislas (Anders Hove) and his obsessive pursuit of newly-minted bloodsucker Michelle (Denice Duff), whom he wishes to make his protégé.

This time around Michelle, having escaped Radu's clutches, finds herself in the care of pretty young thing Ana (Ioana Abur) and not-so-pretty Dr Niculescu (Mihai Dinvale). Niculescu intends to try and "cure" Michelle, but his methods – and motives - are questionable at best. Of course Radu is in hot pursuit, this time aided – and occasionally hindered - by fellow vamps Ash (Jonathan Morris) and Serena (Fiorella Grappini), the protagonists of director Ted Nicolaou's earlier Vampire Journals. Cue much running, screaming, blood, breasts and beheadings.

Unfortunately, it's really hard to care. Subspecies: The Awakening is a dull, uninvolving bore. Like the earlier films in the series, there is nice photography by Adolfo Bartoli and good use of Romanian locations. However, as this is one of Full Moon's post-Paramount productions – made during their ill-fated partnership with the Kushner-Locke Company – the film is also painfully cheap (witness Michelle's "car crash"), confined and slow-moving. The earlier films featured a horde of tiny demon minions in Radu's command, but here, they're nowhere to be seen. While Hove is impressively gnarled and creepy as Radu, much of the supporting cast veers between heavily mannered to just plain amateurish. Nicolaou clearly knows his vampire lore, but fails to make the characters in his script at all compelling as the film lurches from scene to scene without much energy. It's a disappointment given that the earlier films in this made-for-video series were, for all their faults, stylish and entertaining, qualities this one sorely lacks.
Pretty poor. This looks for all the world like it was mastered from an NTSC video tape converted to PAL. There are occasional moments of what look like analogue tape artefacts, not to mention washed-out, bleeding colours that only serve to make the film look even cheaper than it is.
An uninspired, not to mention too quiet, Dolby Stereo track.
Extra Features
Just a lowly trailer (2.25m 4x3). Well-edited, but as cheesy-looking as the film itself. Given that the disc was released in the States with two commentary tracks, filmographies and a behind the scenes featurette, this is a bit of missed opportunity.
The Verdict
A limp, tedious finish to an enjoyable little B-movie series, Subspecies: The Awakening is only for the faithful, whilst Force Entertainment's disc is strictly a rental.
Movie Score
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