Film Review: Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994)

SYNOPSIS:

Still in the thrall of the evil vampire Radu, Michelle yearns to be taught the skills of the vampire. Meanwhile, her sister Becky tries to free her from his evil clutches, and this time, she has brought some help.

REVIEW:

1994’s Bloodlust: Subspecies III was shot back-to-back with its predecessor, Bloodstone: Subspecies II, so the two films share the majority of the same cast, crew, technical aspects, etc. However, the end result an entirely different film. There’s a long-standing debate amongst fan about which sequel is better, but most (myself included) are in the Bloodlust camp.

Picking up from the final moments of Subspecies II, Rebecca (Melanie Shatner) continues her quest to save her sister, Michelle (Denice Duff), from the clutches of the evil vampire Radu (Anders Hove) and his Mummy (Pamela Gordon). Skeptical U.S. Embassy member Mel Thompson (Kevin Blair) finally begins to believe Rebecca’s far-fetched claims of vampirism after witnessing strange occurrences firsthand, and even Bucharest police lieutenant Marin (Ion Haiduc) eventually starts to come around.

Michelle, meanwhile, is held captive at Castle Vladislas, where she is unable to fight her insatiable thirst for blood any longer (hence the title). Being the intelligent girl that she is, however, Michelle manipulates Radu into teaching how to survive in such a state. As she learns the vampire’s secrets, Rebecca and company attempt to make a heroic rescue. This makes Radu the hunted rather than the hunter, which proves to be detrimental to the film.

You see, Radu ostensibly has everything he needs – the bloodstone, his mother and Michelle – right at his fingertips, so he stays in the castle for the majority of the duration. He also displays more humanistic characteristics in his emotions for Michelle, which, although giving him a classic tragic monster essence, make him seem less threatening at best and pathetic at worst.

While the elements that made the original Subspecies and its first sequel memorable remain mostly intact – Hove’s portrayal of Radu, Ted Nicolaou’s direction, the Romania shooting locations – Bloodlust’s story itself simply isn’t all that engaging. The film moves along at a slower pace, never really picking up until the final 10 minutes, which is easily the best segment. It also features much less gore than its predecessor, despite carrying over the talents of special effects artists Wayne Toth and Norman Cabrera.

Another aspect that cannot go unmentioned is how the heroes equip themselves with silver bullets for protection; the tradition weapon to kill werewolves, not vampires. These bullets (melted down from a silver crucifix, at least) come courtesy of a random CIA operative, Bob (Michael Della Femina), a throwaway character that attempts to provides unneeded comedic relief.

Bloodlust is the least striking of the three Subspecies films that Full Moon Features has released on Blu-ray, but it’s still a huge step up from any previously release. As with Bloodstone, Bloodlust’s special features see Nicolaou, Hove and Duff participate in a new commentary track. Nicolaou acknowledges that some fans were disappointed by the film, but he contends that it was intentionally more psychological than previous entries. The Making Subspecies interview segment, unfortunately, is the exact same featurette as the one included on Bloodstone. The original VideoZone behind-the-scenes featurette is also included.

Bloodlust: Subspecies III is not a bad sequel, per se; it just doesn’t quite live up to the bar set by the first two installments. Fans will still enjoy seeing Radu reek havoc in all his high-definition glory. I hope Full Moon continues by releasing the series spin-off, Vampire Journals, and its last effort, Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm, on Blu-ray. More importantly, my fingers are crossed that these new releases pave the way for the long-gestured fifth entry in the series (a prequel, actually), for which Nicolaou, Hove and Duff are all on board. You’ve done good with these Blu-rays, Charles Band, now please give us a new film!

Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994)

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