Friday, January 27, 2017

#2,298. Bloodstone: Subspecies 2 (1993)

Directed By: Ted Nicolaou

Starring: Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Kevin Spirtas

Tag line: "Some things are better left Undead"

Trivia: Was originally set in the Chinatown district of San Francisco

As much as I enjoyed 1991’s Subspecies, I have to say that it’s sequel, Bloodstone: Subspecies 2, is the better movie. Along with a few minor tweaks in its cast, this follow-up puts the focus squarely on Anders Hove’s Radu, and while he certainly played a major part in the success of the first film, Bloodstone: Subspecies 2 proves Mr. Hove is even more effective when he has the spotlight all to himself.

Picking up where Subspecies left off, the evil vampire Radu (Hove), who was defeated by his brother Stefan, is “re-assembled” by his minions (the "subspecies") and brought back to life. After driving a stake through a sleeping Stefan’s heart, the now-invigorated Radu turns his attention to Michelle (played this time around by Denice Duff), who, after being bitten by Stefan in the previous movie, is slowly becoming a vampire herself. Only the sunrise prevents Radu from finishing Michelle off, and later that day, when the sun sets again, a frightened Michelle takes the Bloodstone (an ancient stone that can feed a vampire for all eternity) from Stefan’s coffin and flees the castle.

Making her way to Bucharest, Michelle places a frantic call to her sister Becky (Melanie Shatner), who agrees to meet her there. Meanwhile, Radu, who followed Michelle to the city, pays a visit to his sorceress mother (Pamela Gordon), who he hasn’t seen in hundreds of years, and tells her all about the Bloodstone. With his mother clamoring for the centuries-old trinket, Radu promises to retrieve the Bloodstone and turn it over to her, but refuses to kill Michelle in the process, saying instead that he wants to make the unsuspecting beauty his mate!

The next day, when Becky arrives in Bucharest, she learns that Michelle has disappeared, and with the help of U.S. Embassy Agent Mel Thompson (Kevin Spirtas), as well as Professor Popescu (Michael Denish), who specializes in local folklore, Becky goes looking for her lost sister, with no inkling of the horror that awaits her.

While I thought Michelle and her two friends were a weakness in 1991’s Subspecies, I liked Denice Duff’s take on the character, and found her much more interesting. Also strong is Melanie Shatner (yes, she’s William Shatner’s daughter) as Michelle’s concerned sister, and the addition of Radu’s ugly, malevolent mom, played with plenty of gusto by Pamela Gordon, was a nice touch. Even the Bloodstone is different, going from a small stone (as seen in Subspecies) to a relic of a bygone era (with a casing and everything). As for the special effects, they’re every bit as good as they were in Subspecies (the opening scene, where Radu is resurrected, is particularly impressive), and the decision to once again shoot on-location in Romania brought the same old-world feel to this sequel as it did the first movie.

But like Subspecies, it Is Anders Hove’s Radu that makes Bloodstone: Subspecies 2 such a memorable horror film, and with more of him this time around, part 2 is a much creepier flick than part one. With his gravelly voice and penchant for evil, Radu is a force to be reckoned with, and we can’t help but pity Michelle throughout the picture, at first because she cannot escape Radu (the shadows he casts while chasing her through the streets of Bucharest are spooky in and of themselves), and later because she seems destined to become his eternal girlfriend.

Setting romantic subplots aside to instead concentrate on pure terror, Bloodstone: Subspecies 2 is that rare sequel that actually improves upon the original.

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