Subspecies (1991)

Ted Nicolaou wrote and directed five of these movies — you better believe we have the box set and action figure — starting in 1991 for Full Moon. These look way better than 90’s rental films, because they were shot on location in Romania — the first American film to ever be filmed there — and have incredible looking stop-motion and rod puppet techniques for the subspecies creatures.

Three college students — Mara (Irina Movila), Michelle (Laura Mae Tate) and Lillian (Michelle McBride) have traveled to Prejmer, Romania to study folklore. There, they meet another student named Stefan (Michael Watson) who claims to be studying nocturnal animals, but in truth has been battling his evil brother Radu (Anders Hove, who has been in every single one of these movies other than Vampire Journals).

How did we get here? Why does Radu look so beastly and his brother so much like a human? Well, their father King Vladislas (Angus Scrimm!) was seduced by a sorceress, so they’re really only half-brothers.

Radu killed their father so that he could control the Bloodstone, which drips the blood of the saints. How a vampire can hold onto a holy relic is a point of conjecture we’re best not asking.

Anyhow, Radu — who was named after Vlad the Impaler’s brother Radu the Handsome — turns Mara and Lillian into vampires, but Stefan already loves Michelle, so he works to free her friends. By the end, he chops off Radu’s head and has to turn his love so that she can survive.

Luckily, Radu’s minions are already working on bringing him back to life, otherwise I have no idea what the next movies on this box set are all about.

Speaking of his minions, which are created from Radu’s blood, they weren’t always stop-motion. The original plan was to film local Romanian talent in rubber suits on oversized sets, but then David W. Allen — who worked on several of the Full Moon films — took that footage and added in bluescreen puppets to improve the look of this film.

The Swedish black metal band Marduk’s song “Nightwing” is a cover of this movie’s theme and is all about Radu: “And the mantel of power should be shouldered by the firstborn / The one who craves evil and all kinds of human feelings scorn / He who drank his father’s blood and leaves his foes ripped and torn / And which the king halls up high since long forlorn.”

You can watch this on Tubi.

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