Subspecies (1991)
By: Julian on June 9, 2011  | 
DVD
Big Sky Video | All Regions, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 80 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Ted Nicolaou
Starring: Angus Scrimm, Anders Hove, Michael Watson, Irina Movila, Laura Mae Tate, Michelle McBride
Screenplay: Jackson Barr, David Pabian
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Let me preface this review by registering my utter disbelief that this woefully inadequate movie generated a franchise, with four films following it. And while I have seen none of the sequels to this 1991 effort by producer Charles Band and frequent collaborator Ted Nicolaou, if the quality of the subsequent films in a franchise is generally measured unfavourably against the quality of the original, then I would rather spend an afternoon lazing about in my backyard, watching the grass grow, than acquaint myself with the next few instalments of the Subspecies series.

A synopsis is generally the only place a hateful reviewer is not permitted to be vitriolic, so I'll keep this section brief: Radu (Anders Hove) and Stefan (Michael Watson) are the vampire sons of KingVladislav (Angus Scrimm): Radu is the homicidal nutter and Stefan is the good guy who hates never being able to get a decent tan. Radu and his mum, a sorceress every bit as evil as her son, are placed in exile, and peace is temporarily restored to Romania. Then come two events: first, Radu returns to Castle Vladislav to terminate the reign of the King and seize a mysterious bloodstone; and second a trio of female students visit Romania to study the supernatural, under the tutelage of Stefan.

Subspecies really is a terrible film: it is shockingly made, possesses only glass-like slivers of technical competence and ability exhibited at very infrequent intervals, and it is completely devoid of entertainment value. Being completely unentertaining is pretty hard for a B-grade exploitation film to achieve, and even in other terminally weak Band pictures like Tourist Trap and Parasite is a modicum of mindless entertainment value injected. Subspecies is a moribund wasteland of failed visual gags and limp scares; there's more life in Chernobyl than in this toothless waste of 80 minutes.

A couple of positives to end this review on, though. First and foremost, the staggeringly ridiculous SFX provide some laughs. Some of the performances are pretty entertaining as well, but such accolades are limited exclusively to Anders Hove as the villain and Phantasm nemesis Angus Scrimm. Both seem to realise what sort of a film they are in, and they adjust their exaggerated and histrionic performances accordingly. Also, to Nicolaou's credit, he has scouted Romanian locations that add some authenticity to the film. But these things are just not enough. This is spiritless fare that not even the least discerning viewers could find replay value in. In fact, it's a wonder I got through this at all.
Video
Subspecies is presented in 4:3. It is of VHS quality, but I suspect that has a lot to do with the source materials that BSV had to work with.
Audio
Like the video, the English 2.0 audio track is serviceable, but of unexceptional VHS quality.
Extra Features
For fans of Subspecies (I believe they can be counted on one hand), there are a couple of decent tidbits here: an audio commentary with Band and Chris Gore, the founder of webzine Film Threat; a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette; a theatrical trailer and trailers for other BSV releases, Subspecies 2, Puppet Master 2 and Future Cop. The cover slick also lists 'scene selections', but that ceased to become a 'special feature' to any home video release since the end of VHS.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Woeful is a good word to describe Subspecies. Pitiful is another. But when one is tasked with reviewing a film as witheringly incompetent as this, one feels a slight sense of guilt by the time they reach this part of the review, because any final comments are a little bit like flogging a dead horse. I'll just end on this note: watch this at your own peril.

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