Though hardly a classic by any definition of the word, the low-budget Subspecies
tetralogy has charms-a-plenty. Released direct-to-video between 1991 and 1998, the series presented grimy, gothic vampires that both predated and participated in the craze for bloodsuckers resurrected by more upscale fare like Francis Ford Coppola’s take on Dracula
(1992) and the small-screen adventures of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The first entry in the series presents three clueless American college students who travel to Romania to study the ancient culture and myths of the land of tailored evening wear, blood-red capes and thick accents. They soon find themselves as pawns in a bloodsucker sibling rivalry that launches the viewer into melodrama, gore and goofiness galore, while also setting the stage for multiple sequels.
Perhaps the most charming aspect of the entire Subspecies
series is how it wears its bargain basement B-movie status so proudly. It displays its budget on the portions where actual cash was spent — location filming in Romania, gory makeup and pre-CGI effects that display more creativity and charm than many big-budget digital puppet shows — without breaking a sweat over inconsequential things like character development or fine acting. The goal was to provide enough horrific money shots and soapy melodrama to keep ’em comin’ back to the video shop for more, and on those points, Subspecies
stands at the top of the food chain.
So check out the first installment with a rowdy crowd, this weekend — Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. — at the Cult Fiction Underground at Logue’s Black Raven Emporium.