Beginning right from where SUBSPECIES 2: BLOODSTONE finished (following a recap of that film's gory finale), BLOODLUST opens with the demure Michelle (Denise Duff) 'dead' and her vampire suitor Radu (Anders Hove) presumed perished.

Michelle's sister Rebecca (Melanie Shatner) has stuck around in Romania, convinced that her sister can still be saved from the evil Radu's clutches. She has faithful help in the form of handsome beau Mel (Kevin Spirtas), but takes a little longer to persuade Detective Marin (Ion Haiduc) to join her plight.

Once the cop is on board, Rebecca sets about on figuring a way to penetrate Radu's castle walls.

Meanwhile, Radu has been saved by his Cryptkeeper-lookalike Mummy (Pamela Gordon), and the pair of them now hide out in the castle's crypt where they keep Michelle prisoner. Radu is still convinced he can make his captor love him someday. Although, admittedly, he has strange notions on how to woo her: one night, for example, he spies a local woman walking past the castle while singing. He drags in, exposes her breasts to the caged Michelle and then devours the girl in front of her...

While Michelle contains to show disdain for Radu's advances, she does however maintain his interest by asking him periodically to show how to use the powers her vampirism is gradually bringing about. "I want to learn to fly" she tells him at one juncture, and so on.

Can Rebecca and her machine gun-toting boyfriend fend off Radu's vampires and make it into the castle? Will they be able to save Michelle from an eternity as Radu's slave-cum-love object? And, if they do, will she revert back into a simple mortal being?

Director Ted Nicolau, who also helmed the first two instalments of the SUBSPECIES saga, ably answers all of these questions while nodding rather obviously to the tale of "Beauty and the Beast" several times along the way. The interesting result of this is that Radu becomes a much more complex, sympathetic character. Yes, he is a monster who looks like evil personified and can boast a body count to back this up, but the sadness in his eyes frequently suggests loneliness, isolation and a longing to be loved. For all his beastliness, Radu exhibits clearly human needs here.

There's an unusual tone to the film. Radu's aforementioned pining is in keeping with the dark, stylish visuals and foreboding Romanian locations. A haunting score adds pathos, and helps bolster the film's attempts at approaching its horror elements in a serious manner. And yet elsewhere there are odd moments of humour thrown in clumsily, while some of the cheap FX work is cheesy to the point of truly undermining the Gothic ambience hinted at elsewhere.

This being a Full Moon feature from the mid-90s, too, there is plenty of blood and breasts on offer along the way. So, this really is a confused film which spends half its time proffering a genuinely different spin on the vampire myth and presenting within this context a rather melancholic tale of unrequited love, and the other half adhering to its expected exploitation thrills in cheap and cheery fashion.

As such, BLOODLUST is an enjoyable and often attractive film. It works mainly because the leads - especially the outstanding Hove - are very good, and their characters are well-written enough to offer more than your run-of-the-mill horror movie. But it's no classic, largely because of aspirations that aren't met due to budgetary constrictions, and the aforementioned schizophrenia of the film's tone.

88 Films provide SUBSPECIES 3: BLOODLUST with its UK blu-ray premiere, offering the film fully uncut and in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Presented as an MPEG4-AVC file with full 1080p HD resolution, the transfer is a mixed bag.

The scenes set in the crypt, for example, are very clean and sharp without any obvious trace of undue noise reduction. A light layer of grain appears natural throughout and some exterior scenes during daylight are pleasingly bright and colourful. However, other scenes possess a softness to them that isn't in keeping with a 1994 production (even one as cheap as this). Noise can be witnessed in some darker scenes too.

Overall it's a decent presentation on offer here, but not on a par with 88 Films' blu-rays of the first two SUBSPECIES films.

English audio is proffered in 2.0 and 5.1 mixes. Both are DTS-HD Master Audio options. Both are solid propositions. I must admit to preferring the former, which boasted a more natural-sounding mix to these ears.

The disc opens to a static main menu page. From there, pop-up menus include a scene-selection option allowing access to the film via 12 chapters.

Bonus features begin with an enjoyable, frequently jovial audio commentary track from Nicolau, Duff and Hove. Understandably, the director takes the lead throughout. He's honest enough to suggest that fans tend to prefer the second instalment over this one - but all three are equally quick to celebrate this film's deeper exploration of the psychology behind Radu's unrequited love for Michelle. All in all, this makes for an excellent accompaniment to the main feature.

8 minutes of cast and crew interviews cover much the same ground. This is repeated from the SUBSPECIES 2: BLOODSTONE disc.

A 105-second montage of stills from the film seems to me to be a pretty redundant affair.

Far better is the original 24-minute episode of "Videozone", with producer Charles Band introducing proceedings in his usual agreeable way. Pillar-boxed and suffering from VHS-quality visuals, this at least offers a lot of interesting on-location footage and interviews.

The film's 2-minute trailer follows, along with trailers for a few other titles in the 88 Films roster: PUPPET MASTER, PUPPET MASTER 2, PUPPET MASTER 3: TOULON'S REVENGE, PUPPET MASTER X and CASTLE FREAK.

BLOODLUST is an enjoyable, flawed but interesting addition to the SUBSPECIES franchise and it gets a good blu-ray release from the guys at 88 Films.

By Stuart Willis

Released by 88 Films
Region B
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review