Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Sexy Female Vampires of the Subspecies Franchise


Strange that this wasn't done sooner but hey, better late than never as I'm on a classic horror kick and this is definitely a classic.  Subspecies was a gothic vampire horror film series that spanned almost the entire 1990's resulting in five films (4 in the series and 1 side spinoff).  The main films series follows a vampire by the name of Radu who is attempting to train his fledgling vampire Michelle in how to survive as one of the undead.   Well actually it didn't start that way so I guess we should start at the beginning....

Subspecies (1991)
This more or less is the lost film in the series mainly because it's not really needed to enjoy the rest of the series and quite frankly the story doesn't really add up to the rest.  The reason I say this is the next film in the series pretty much erases the ending of this one.   Anyway this film follows three college students, Michelle, Mara and Lillian.  They go to Romania to study the culture there and end up going to a spooky castle and befriending its owner Stefan Vladislas.  What we eventually find out is that Stefan is a vampire (a "nice" vampire that doesn't hurt humans) and he is in a power struggle with his brother Radu who is an evil vampire similar to Nosferatu who has tiny demons who do his bidding called "subspecies" and is obsessed with something called the blood stone which would give him great power.
The subspecies helping Radu
 This is the only film of the series where Michelle is not a vampire.  This is also the only film in the series where the character Michelle is played by Laura Tate.
Laura Tate as "Michelle" in Subspecies
Michelle is turned to a vampire by Stefan at the films conclusion but you never actually see her transformation.  Not all is lost though as I mentioned three girls took the trip to Romania.  The other two did not take as long to get captured and turned by Radu so they both eventually become his vampire brides who help him in his goal to capture Michelle.
The first to be turned was Lillian (Michelle McBride)
She is the most aggressive of the girls once she turns since it happens so early in the film.  She is initially used to lour the remaining survivors out using the "damsel in distress" routine but once that doesn't work she spends the rest of the film as Radu's right hand.  Then we have Mara (Irina Movila).
Mara is not turned right away, instead she gets captured and has to be rescued.
 It's not revealed that she's a vampire till she vamps out uncontrollably during her attempted rescue which distracts Michelle enough for Lillian to get the jump on her.  Neither of these two make it out of this film alive in any form (in fact Mara is killed in the very next scene after she turns).  As mentioned above Michelle doesn't either but she is resurrected as one of the undead in the films many sequeals.

Bloodstone (1993) (also known as The Awakening), Bloodlust (1994) & Bloodstorm (1998)
 In the beginning of Subspecies 2 "Bloodstone" Radu kills Stefan and takes Michelle for himself.  She fights it at first which is pretty much most of the second film but eventually accepts it in the 3rd and ventures out on her own in the final film.  This is where most people know the story as this is where the series got it's cult following.  In fact many other vampire movies such as "Morgana" actually have this film playing in the background of scenes (in Morgana's case one of the main characters is watching it in a movie theater).  This would also be the point in which Michelle would now be played by the legendary Denise Duff.
This role would make her career and rightfully so.  The scenes of her loosing control in the second and third films are absolute classics and are probably some of the hottest fang outs in cinema.

In the fourth installment of the series another fledgeling vampire is introduced named "Serena" (Floriela Grappini)
 Serena wants the bloodstone for herself and throughout the movie uses people around her including her own maker Ash in an attempt to get it.  I won't spoil it too much other than to say this was the last film in the series for a reason.

Speaking of Serena and Ash as mentioned they do get their own movie in 1997's Vampire Journals.
Now I won't actually try to explain this one other than to say it's about Ash falling for a female musician and a vampire who was created by Serena trying to kill him.  The reason I won't go beyond that is it actually doesn't connect to the Subspecies movies at all and couldn't come before or after Subspecies 4 in any timeline even though this movie did come out before the fourth subspecies film due to major plot discrepancies.  This film does have a female vampiress itself in the form of the dark and evil Cassandra (Ilinca Goya)
 Cassandra is evil and sexy which is a great combination.  Basically her role in this film is the jealous "side piece" of Ash who would prefer to have his attention instead of it going to his new interest.



 In 2023 after a 20+ year hiatus the franchise was resurrected for a prequal called Bloodrise.  The film tells the story of Radu and follows the 2020's trend of giving villains tragic backstories to humanize them that we've seen with characters like Cruella Deville and Dracula. 

Basically what you get is many of the matter of fact back stories from the first film somewhat played out.  Radu was the product of a vampire and a witch who was originally kidnapped by the church, humanized and turned into a demon slayer.  His downfall of course was a woman.  In this case Helena played by Denise Duff
Helena was a woman who was kidnapped by the vampire Vladislov and forced into having his child Stefan.  He believes that he is saving her but eventually she turns and proceeds to try to turn him but all it did was make him revert to his original ghoul form as unknowing to her he already a non human anyway which she eventually rejects when she sees him later looking like a ghoul.   It is explained that he was in love with her and didn't take it well after she turned on him and he kills her.  Before she dies she curses him which becomes the explanation for his obsession with her doppelgänger Michelle and inability to kill her in the other films.

Radu's character is very lonely and just wants a companion that isn't his mother.  Eventually he finds one in a flute player named Ariel (Stasa Nikolic).
Ariel is the sister of the character Ash who is introduced in the film Vampire Journals (he is also one of the villains of Subspecies 4). She is very rebellious wanting nothing to do with Radu and being a vampire at first unlike her brother who was looking forward to living forever.  Then when she eventually does give in to the blood thirst she goes all in basically being an uncontrollable killer. 
This becomes an issue as Helena who becomes the vampire queen forbids hunting and only has vampires feed from willing victims similar to Ash's casino in Vampire Journals (this being explained that Helena preferred Ash so he adopts many of her ways).  This makes Ariel rebel against Helena and decide that Radu wasn't so bad after all.  In a "straw that broke the camels back" scenario for Radu she decides to be a dejected Radu's companion as he sulked over Helena and before he can enjoy finally not being lonely Ariel is killed by a vampire slayer named Diane
Diane was sent to kill Radu earlier in the film but failed.  Instead of killing her he turned her and left her to fend for herself.  This obviously was a bad idea seeing how that all turned out.  She lets Radu live as she knew that being alone was worse than death for him.  Helena's rejection and Ariel's death is then told to us as why Radu went mad and went full on villain. 

So there you go, seven years of dark, shadowy Romanian bloodsucking goodness.  If you haven't seen the main movies in the series, I highly recommend them.  Some of the most memorable female vamping you will find anywhere.

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