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Film / Subspecies

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Subspecies is a series of four horror movies and a fifth upcoming entry, directed by Ted Nicolau, produced by Full Moon Features and starring Anders Hove as vampire Radu Vladislas.

The series consists of

  • Subspecies (1991)
  • Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993)
  • Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994)
  • Bloodstorm: Subspecies IV (1998)
  • Blood Rise: Subspecies V (2020)

It had a spinoff, made in 1997, called The Vampire Journals.

The story involves young Michelle, who came to Romania with her friend Lilian to study its folklore and ends up involved in a war between ancient vampires for the possession of the Blood Stone, a stone which drips the blood of saints. Not related to the 1995 film Species or its sequels.



  • Adaptational Heroism: While he's still by no means a good guy, Radu was even more of a Card-Carrying Villain in the original script for the first movie than he turned out to be in the finished product.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: As of Bloodlust, Radu starts to show his more lonely, pitiful side, particularly after killing his own mother. Even his gruesome but temporary death is rather somber this time around.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Nobody likes Radu. His fellow vampires — including his father — see him as a crazed, murderous abomination; the people of Transylvania are terrified of him; his mother teeters between being abusive and overprotective; and most of his underlings that aren't fully under his thrall want him dead.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The vampire Ash, one of Radu's previous fledglings, portrays himself as a sophisticated aristocrat who enjoys the finer things in (un)life.
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  • The Artifact: The titular Subspecies... do next to nothing in the series. They're really only there because Full Moon productions always have at least one stop-motion element (usually so they can sell models and action figures of them).
  • Artifact Title: The 'Subspecies' title in Bloodstorm, the only movie not to have the little creatures. Although the title may be referring to Radu, who is, himself, a half-breed.
  • Ax-Crazy: Radu is insane and violent, mainly from drinking from the Bloodstone.
  • Back For The Undead: Lt. Marin comes back as a vampire in Bloodstorm after apparently having been killed in Bloodlust
  • Barbarian Longhair: Radu has long hair that fits his malevolent personality.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Michelle will sure live forever, but she's a vampire so she will have to quell her killer instincts, her sister and friends are dead, she is vulnerable to sunlight and she's all alone in a foreign country with nary a way of going back to the US. At least she has the bloodstone to feed upon instead of mortals and Radu is confirmed to be dead.
    • Vampire Journals, although it's played as being more of a Downer Ending. Zachery successfully got his revenge against Ash, but was unable to save Sofia from becoming a vampire, and thus, the two are condemned to a lonely undead existence.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Radu seems to think his killing of Stefan is this in Bloodstone. Bob The CIA Guy and Radu himself's deaths in Bloodlust fit the bill better.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking:
    • Subspecies has Radu break into the girls' room to feed on Lilian's cut arm; he sucks on that for a while before going for her throat, but flees when Stefan and Karl arrive. Later he somehow Offscreen Teleports from kidnapping Mara at a festival to finishing off the weakened and bed-ridden Lilian in the room.
    • The second and third movies have Radu make several attempts on killing Becky in her sleep. The first attempt fails because Radu wastes too much time creeping around with the sheets and her nightgown until the phone rings...and he just leaves rather than attempting to overpower her. For the second attempt he spies in on her room, enters via Stock Footage...and then runs away because Mel is also in the room, asleep in a chair. Radu is nothing if committed to playing this trope completely by the book.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: In the first two movies, Radu is unabashedly evil and doesn't even try to hide it in his vernacular. Some of his euphemisms for feeding (namely "desecrate") have a disturbing rapist subtext. Downplayed in the third and fourth, where he admits to being irredeemable, but it comes off more as I Am a Monster.
  • Characterization Marches On: Radu was portrayed as pure evil in the first movie and for most of the second. Later he becomes a bit of a lovesick puppy who talk how much he loved his brother Stefan when he did an angry dance on Stefan's bones after murdering him, screaming "bastard" the whole time.
  • The Chew Toy: Radu gets a little less intimidating when you remember he has been impaled, beheaded, staked, beaten up, escaped, set on fire, burnt in the sun, decapitated again... all within the space of like a week.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In Bloodstone, the theater Michelle hides in has a glass coffin backstage. Why? Is this theater a hostel for vampires?
  • Creepy Long Fingers: Radu's fingers are absurdly long, and creepy as hell.
  • Deadly Doctor: Dr. Nicelescu is actually a vampire, obsessed with obtaining the Bloodstone for himself, and is fully willing to kill both Ana and Michelle, along with Radu.
  • Deader Than Dead: Given Radu's tendency to survive things that kill other vampires if not outright returning from the dead the protagonists do this to him in Bloodstorm to make sure he stays dead. They cut off his head with an axe, burn his body, then stick his head on a fence to melt in the sun for good measure.
  • Dhampyr: Both Stefan and Radu; Stefan is half-human, while Radu is the result of his father being magically seduced by a hag (of the D&D nonhuman variety).
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: King Vladislas threatens Radu this way. It's mostly an empty threat, however, in that he ends up being the one destroyed.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Mel, Becky, and the girl they rescued from Radu all unceremoniously die in a car accident offscreen at the beginning of the fourth movie, due to the original actors' refusal to reprise their roles.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: As of the second movie, the color in Michelle's face is practically gone. Probably has something to do with her being a vampire now.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Radu. Subverted in Bloodlust when he kills her to prove his love for Michelle.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Every vampire, even the most assholish ones, hates and fears Radu, seeing him as pure evil and wanting him dead.
    • Zig-zagged with Iris. She claims to be angry with Ash for killing Anton in her club because it would bring the police and get her in trouble, but she also seems genuinely disturbed by just how cruel he is.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Radu is regarded as an insane monster even by other evil vampires. Whereas Ash and his vampires maintain a semblance of humanity more like the sophisticated Bela Lugosi type vampires, Radu is a horror right out of the Dark Ages.
  • Evil Redhead: Ash from Vampire Journals and Bloodstorm.
  • Exact Words: Ash promises Zachery that he'll allow him to see Sofia if he complies with him for a period of time. What he never said is that he would trick her into walking in on him feeding on a willing victim before sealing him away.
  • Expy: Professor Popescu is a pretty obvious one of Van Helsing.
  • Fallen Hero: According to the summary of Blood Rise, Radu started off as a warrior of the Catholic Church sent to retrieve the Bloodstone from his father, whereupon he became a full-blown monster.
  • Fertile Blood: The titular imps are tiny demon looking homunculi spawned from the blood of the vampire Radu.
  • First Installment Weirdness: The first film goes by Dracula rules and depicts Radu's bite as The Virus, with Radu seemingly able to wipe out the original personalities of those he turns, with them becoming willing and eagerly evil servants, as seen with Lillian and Mara. Michelle only avoids this fate by having Stefan turn her instead after she's bitten by Radu. The later films go more by Anne Rice rules instead, with vampires retaining their original personalities and free will and even often plotting against their sires (though some do still succumb to Transhuman Treachery simply due to no longer being bound by human laws or morality).
  • Foil: Stefan, to Radu. Both of them share the same father, but whereas Radu was born from a sorceress, Stefan was (presumably) born of a human woman. They both feel some sort of affection for Michelle, though Stefan's was purely altruistic and he appeared to love her as a human; Radu had a childish understanding of love and only felt any real love for her once she was turned. Radu embraces his vampiric nature; Stefan tries to be as human as he can.
  • Hidden Depths: While he has an openly contemptuous view of humans, Radu expresses some fondness for their arts and sciences. For instance, he shows particular annoyance with a bad violinist and has Michelle use her teleportation ability to lure him into his grasp.
  • Hybrid Monster: Radu is some kind of half-vampire, half-hag thing.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Probably unintentional. Radu taunts Stefan for pretending to be human when he sees him strolling up to the castle in the middle of the day ... while he, himself, is outside.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: All of the vampires try to kill the ones who made them. Radu killed his father. Michelle tries to kill him. Ash wishes to kill Radu. Zachery killed his sire and wants to kill Ash for making her.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Radu's apparent motivation for many of his vile actions is to gain Michelle's love.
  • Immediate Sequel: Bloodstone and Bloodlust, which were shot back-to-back. Subverted with Bloodstorm which was released in 1998, four years after Bloodlust.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: As the series goes on, Radu becomes more and more pathetic in his efforts to win over Michelle's heart and to the point where he's almost pitiful.
  • It's All About Me: Radu has a few shades of this. He believes himself to be the rightful owner of the Bloodstone, murdering both his father and his half-brother for it, and thinks he's entitled to some sort of reciprocation from Michelle for killing his entire bloodline.
  • Kick the Dog: In Vampire Journals, Ash forces Anton to feed on his friend, then beheads him for what he perceives as cowardice.
  • Killed Off for Real: It seems like every movie tries to kill off Radu in a horrible fashion but it didn't stick until the fourth film.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Zachery in Vampire Journals.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Radu, oh so very much. You'd think he'd have learned by the third movie that trying to go after Michelle will only get him killed.
  • MacGuffin: The Bloodstone, even in the sequel named after it.
  • Narcissist: Ash. More so in Vampire Journals than in Bloodstorm, but nonetheless, his sense of self-importance is absurdly inflated to the point where he insists that his children prove their devotion to him and to him alone.
  • Negative Continuity: The vampires' ability to walk in the sunlight appears only in the first movie. The backstory on how Radu was sired changes a couple of times throughout the films. Radu even claims to have sired Stefan in Bloodstorm, despite Stefan explicitly being stated to be his father's spawn.
  • Neutral Female: Michelle is mostly this in the sequels. She does kill Radu in Bloodstone, but as for the rest of the time...
  • Not Quite Dead: Radu is seemingly killed several times, only to somehow survive. In the last they decapitate him (again) but take his head far away from his body and stick it on a post in the sunlight, which seems to do the trick.
  • Off with His Head!: How Radu bites it in the first and fourth movies.
  • Once an Episode: Radu kills a family member of his with a "Forgive me *insert family relationship here*" and a man helping the main character(s) dies in each of the first three movies.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In the first movie, the vampires walk in plain sunlight.
    • Non-evil vampires can walk in sunlight such as Stefan, it also why he looks the most human unlike Radu who follows the path of evil and looks deformed. Michelle is sorta half in half. As she drinks blood from humans, she shunned by the sunlight but isn't really evil since its more of a survival thing and half the time is mostly forced on her.
    • Radu himself thanks to his mixed heritage though he is always referred to as a vampire. He can create the miniature subspecies .creatures from drops of his blood and return from deaths that would kill regular vampires. At the same time he is vulnerable to all of the conventional vampire weaknesses.
    • They are also capable of traveling faster by taking the form of their own shadow.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In Bloodlust, Radu allows Michelle to see Becky before she gives herself up to him, without harming her at all.
    • In Bloodstorm, Radu gives a homeless man a coin in exchange for his robe. This was probably the first act of genuine decency that he ever performed in the series that, unlike the above, isn't subverted shortly after.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Lt. Marin. He's hopelessly incompetent for his profession to the point where it's hilarious.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Radu is prone to throwing tantrums when things do not go his way and often seeks the approval of his mother or Michelle like a little kid.
  • Put on a Bus: After Radu is done in in the first movie, Karl simply leaves and never returns for any of the sequels.
  • Rasputinian Death: Radu in Bloodlust. He is shot with silver bullets, burned by the sun, falls off the roof of the castle and onto a tree, where he is impaled. Subverted in that he's resurrected shortly after. Then played straight again when he's finally Killed Off for Real in Bloodstorm by beheading and cremation.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Lillian in the first film. Radu drains her enough to kill and the locals bury her. Later that night Radu soon arrives at her grave and wills her to climb out of it, showcasing her newly vamped form in the process.
  • Self-Made Orphan: By the third film, Radu has killed both his mother and father.
  • Sissy Villain: There is no reason on earth that anyone should ever be intimidated by the wimpy Ash.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Radu is a textbook example. Not only does he follow Michelle around Romania, he tries to turn her against her own sister so she'll have nobody else to turn to but him when she embraces her vampirism.
  • The Starscream: Ash in Vampire Journals has the dubious distinction of having two subordinates who want him dead – Iris (who runs the nightclub) and Cassandra (his oldest vampire childe). Ash himself aspires to be this to Radu in Bloodstorm, and Serena to Ash (briefly, before changing her mind to try and convince him to destroy Radu).
  • Start of Darkness: Blood Rise will serve as this to Radu.
  • Stupid Evil: Ash insists on being as much of a prick as he can be, abducting Sofia — who has friends that know she was there — and eventually turning her, and killing Anton's lawyer, Walter, both of which would certainly bring attention to his club. Iris calls him out on this.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Stefan in Bloodstone, Radu's mother in Bloodlust, Becky, Mel, Random Victim Girl, Lt. Marin (sort of) & Radu in Bloodstorm.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Bob from Bloodstone is one for the custodian from the first movie.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Michelle, at least in the first movie. Karl and Stefan warn her not to go outside when a vampiric Lillian is calling out to her. She doesn't heed their warnings, despite knowing full well that Lillian died.
    • Lt. Marin, although he's more just dumb in general.
    • Radu. Time and time again, he continues to try and win Michelle over, all while pressuring her to reject her humanity. This always results in him being killed.
    • Stefan, when he tries to confront Radu while walking about in broad daylight.
  • Tragic Monster: At the end of the day, Radu is just a sad, unloved creature who has been rejected by both vampires and humans, and has likely embraced his evil nature because of his ostracization. He hides behind a mask of contempt for humanity when ultimately, he seeks love and companionship.
    Radu: There is not enough forgiveness in the universe for all I've done.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Mara and Lillian in the first movie after they're turned into vampires. They become completely subservient to Radu and help capture Michelle to become his latest servant, even pinning her down on the bed and laughing as he prepares to bite her. Michelle, after she's turned, flip flops on this trope through the series.
  • Trivial Title: The series is named after a small race of creatures who barely factor into the movies. Possibly subverted in that Radu could be considered a subspecies of vampire.
  • Undead Barefooter: Radu claims two of Michelle's friends, Mara and Lillian. Mara is initially buried in clothing before she resurrects but Lillian is dressed in a tattered gown as Radu slowly drains her with no shoes. When he captures Michelle with intent to turn her as well, he dresses all three girls in white gowns with no footwear.
  • The Un-Favourite: Radu. By both parents.
  • Undeathly Pallor: All of the vampires, from the second film onward, but especially Radu.
  • Vampires Are Rich: Radu inherits a fortune in treasure upon killing his father and his other fledgling Ash has built another fortune in Budapest over the centuries.
  • Vampire Monarch: Radu's father was the vampire king for the local vampires around Romania and forbid the killing of humans. He banished Radu for refusing to obey this edict. The opening of the first film has the king old and dying with Radu returning to finish him off.
  • Vampires Own Night Clubs: Ash, apparently, owns some sort of night club, which seems to be his main source of income.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Entirely possible with the Bloodstone, a relic which, hence the name, produces an unlimited supply of ethically-sourced, conflict-free, blood.
  • Villain Has a Point: A rare villain-to-villain example. Radu's mother is absolutely right that if he refuses to destroy Michelle, then she'll just continue to act like his master.
  • Villainous Crush: Radu for Michelle. He seeks her affection, and would even killing his beloved mother to prove his love for her.
  • Villainous Rescue: In Bloodstorm, Radu comes to the hospital where Michelle is being held to save her from Dr. Nicelescu. As usual, his intentions aren't altruistic.

The 1991 prequel comics:

  • Adaptational Ugliness: Radu looks like a noseless, demonic Murdoc Niccals here. Not that he was all that attractive in the movies.
  • Adaptational Villainy: He was already pretty evil in the first movie, but Radu is just that much more monstrous here.
  • Bad Boss: Radu drains his commander of blood just so he can be strong enough to fight Stefan.
  • Bed Trick: A demoness kills the vampire king's wife and assumes her form to seduce the vampire king and give birth to a vampiric half-breed.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Radu is a monster and proud of it. He considers any insults to his demonic heritage as a compliment.
  • Continuity Snarl: While it was written before the sequels, the backstory for Radu — as well as his personality — are vastly different here. In the movies, he was the offspring of the vampire king and a hag, whereas here, he's the spawn of a demoness who pulled a Bed Trick on the vampire king by taking the shape of his wife, who she had killed.
  • Darker and Edgier: The comics are not quite in the same ballpark as the films, which are fairly standard B-movie fare, and Radu is considerably more evil (and uglier) than he was in either the first movie, let alone the sequels.
  • Hellish Horse: Brimstone, Radu's steed.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mariah is shown naked more than a few times, both from the front and the rear.
  • Villains Want Mercy: Stefan resolves to grant Radu a painful death by placing a giant cross on his body. As he's prepared to behead him, Radu begs for mercy. Ironically, he told Stefan that mercy was for the weak just before.

The 2018 sequel comics:

  • The Atoner: Michelle has become this, and works in a hospital to redeem herself for the people she had hurt to sate her hunger.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • A variant. The original Radu was, for all intents and purposes, completely destroyed after the events of Bloodstorm. However, the subspecies creatures all matured into different aspects of his personality, and when each one is destroyed, they all merge with the body of the sole survivor, effectively bringing back the original Radu.
    • Seemingly played straight with Radu's mother, who shows up in the very last panel, telling Radu to forget about the Bloodstone.
  • Driven to Suicide: The original Radu starts to return in the body of Good!Radu after all his brothers have been slain, and he chooses to jump off a cliff and into the water rather than continue to be a threat to Michelle. Subverted, in that he survives his attempt.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The first of the Radu brothers that Michelle encounters is impeccably dressed in a suit and tie and tries to charm her into handing over the Bloodstone.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: The one Radu brother who represents the good side of Radu is actually a pretty nice guy. He doesn't even seem to be interested in feeding on humans, instead opting for draining a deer that he comes across in he woods. Though he does get irrationally angry over Michelle mentioning Stefan's name.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Again, a variant. One of the Radu brothers seeks to atone for his mistreatment of Michelle in the past, and allies himself with her to kill the other aspects of him. He even tries to kill himself when he realizes that the original Radu is back.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Ash and Serena are killed off abruptly by the most evil of the Radu brothers.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Michelle has become a much more competent fighter over the years since she last encountered Radu. She manages to put up a decent battle with the brothers and even kills some of them.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nobody bats an eye at the unnaturally pasty, long-fingered Radu brothers when they're out in public.


Video Example(s):


Subspecies [Lillian Rises]

Scene from the 1991 film, Subspecies. Radu has managed to feed on one of the college student to the point she dies. The local village quickly bury her but it isn't long till Radu comes to her grave that night to claim her as his bride.

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Example of:

Main / RiseFromYourGrave

Media sources:

Main / RiseFromYourGrave