Starring Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Kevin Spirtas, Melanie Shatner, Michael Denish, Pamela Gordon, Ion Haiduc
Directed by Ted Nicolaou
Expectations: Moderate. The first was good.
On the general scale:
On the B-Movie scale:
Coming off the somewhat slow, but very entertaining Subspecies, Ted Nicolaou and Full Moon pick up right where they left off with the sequel. Literally starting at the same moment Subspecies ends, Bloodstone: Subspecies II finds Radu in a predicament. Due to a disagreement in the first film, his head got separated from his body and a nasty stake was driven through his heart. That’s apparently what the subspecies are for though, as they cleverly remove the stake and push Radu’s head just close enough for the bloody tentacles and his spine to reach out and reattach his head. I’m not making it up, I swear! Like the subspecies in the first film, Radu continues to impress by possessing all kinds of cool vampire traits you won’t hear about in the schoolyard in between turns on the swing set. This is one of my favorite horror movie openings in recent memory, and with that, Bloodstone: Subspecies II starts off with one hell of an over-the-top, gory bang.
Besides Radu’s resurrection, the plot mainly follows the heroine of the first film Michelle (played here by Denise Duff), a recently bitten female who’s slowly adjusting to her newfound lust for human blood. When she awakes in the aftermath of the carnage that ended Subspecies, she quickly yoinks the bloodstone and runs off to Bucharest with it. When Radu returns to claim his prize and he finds it missing, he does the only logical thing given the circumstance; he grabs his recently deceased brother’s skeleton and furiously rips and stomps it to hell. He then runs off in chase, but is only quick enough to see Michelle board the train to Bucharest. Shoulda ate your Wheaties, Radu! I’m sure you can guess what happens from here. This sequel wisely does not seek to retread the ground of the original, instead mostly leaving behind the majestic but creepy ruins of the Eastern European countryside, for the urban environment of Bucharest. This instantly gives the film a distinctly different feel and look to the first film, while still retaining the clever shooting style and the star of the show, Radu.
Anders Hove plays Radu with such over-the-top, blood-drenched charm that despite being the villain, it is nigh on impossible not to love the guy and root for him. Well, I do get my fair share of enjoyment out of seeing him get his ass kicked too; he’s a character that goes beyond any classification and delivers on every front. I literally smiled from ear to ear every time he came on-screen because I knew some good shit was about to come my way. While he’s not my favorite on-screen vampire, he’s definitely the most fun to watch, with Hove’s portrayal of Radu reminding me of a cross between Gary Oldman’s elder vampire from the opening of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the silent terror of Nosferatu.
One of my favorite aspects of Bloodstone: Subspecies II is the clever use of shadows to heighten Radu’s vampiric nature. Radu casts cathedral-size shadows that tower over his prey, his long, thin fingers stretching out into the night. Radu also uses his shadow to penetrate locked gates and as a slick exit out of inhospitable rooms. It may all be old school smoke and mirror parlor tricks, but the shadow work in Bloodstone: Subspecies II is nothing short of awesome. Like the original before it, the film has an incredible, intoxicating atmosphere that permeates every scene of the film. When the film is at its most ridiculous, in the scenes between Radu and his Crypt Keeper-like witch mother, the atmosphere becomes a little too thin and transparent, but honestly this is of little concern in scenes as fun as these. I only hope that Radu’s mother makes a return for the next sequel, as she is easily one of the most fun walking corpses I’ve ever seen in a film.
Ted Nicolaou does a fantastic job with this one, and honestly, I think this is my favorite of his films so far. A lot of his previous output is horror comedies that never quite reached their full potential, such as TerrorVision and Bad Channels, so watching this series of films is like discovering his masterwork, leaps and bounds ahead of his other films. The original Subspecies may technically be a better film than Bloodstone, but Bloodstone is easily the more entertaining film. That might just be my love of over-the-top bad movies talking though, so you might want to take this with a grain of salt. Regardless of your stance on bad movies, it is impossible to withhold the respect deserved for the opening of this movie, as it is simply the best head reattachment scene you’re ever likely to see.
Next week… yep, you know the drill. Bloodlust: Subspecies III!