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The Goldsmith, Relic, The Relic, Final Destination, Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm, and The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
Horror Bulletin Weekly Newsletter #249
This week, We’ll look at four more movies and a short film. We’ll start with the brand-new “The Goldsmith” from 2023 and then follow that up with the also-new “The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster.” Then, we’ll look at two similarly named but completely unrelated films, “The Relic” from 1997 and “Relic” from 2020.
In addition, exclusive to this weekly email newsletter, we also reviewed:
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Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm (1998)
Final Destination (2000)
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The Angry Black Girl and her Monster (2023)
Directed by Bomani J. Story
Written by Bomani J. Story
Stars Chad L. Coleman, Denzel Whitaker, Laya DeLeon Hayes, Reilly Brooke Stith
Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
A brilliant person believes that death is just a state of disease that can be cured, so they set about bringing the dead back to life in their secret lab. If that rings a bell, it should. This was a skillfully made take on Frankenstein. We enjoyed it a lot.
Vicaria tells us about her mother being shot, and then the violence spread, infecting her brother Chris. He died as well. She’s sick of violence and death. “If death is a disease, then there’s a cure, and I’m gonna find it.” Credits roll.
We see that Vicaria is really into science and is smart. She’s also got a room with a locked door. She tells a little boy that it’s full of bodies; some alive, some dead. We cut to school, where Vicaria annoys her teacher. The teacher has her removed forcibly. At the PTA meeting, the teacher comments on the family’s last name, which is vaguely European. Donald, Vicaria’s father, really chews out the teacher who called the police on his daughter.
We see Vicaria’s notebook, “The Modern Prometheus,” by Vicaria F. So that’s what the “F” stands for! She goes to her secret “lab” after school, and she really is experimenting on dead bodies. Her brother Chris and other gang-killed neighbors. She sews pieces of Chris together. Later, there is talk in the neighborhood about several missing bodies.
That night, there’s screaming and shooting in the neighborhood. Jerome, one of the local kids, gets shot and dies as Vicaria watches. As the EMTs try to shock the boy back to life, she gets the idea that she needs to add electricity to her project. She quickly assembles a machine to use all the electricity in town to charge up the dead body in her lab. ZAP! ZAP!
Is it alive? We hope she’s gonna say “it,” but she doesn’t. She doesn’t get to say anything because the creature wakes up and knocks her out. When she wakes up, Chris is there. He’s huge and has dreadlocks. “I’m gonna show you who killed you and what’s killing us,” she says. She takes him to break into Curtis’s car, which contains drugs, and that all goes really badly for Curtis.
In the morning, she’s grabbed by Kango, the main drug dealer in the neighborhood. They know she was involved in the drug heist last night. He threatens her. Kango wants her to work in his drug lab unless she tells him who hurt Curtis.
Vicaria goes back to her lab to find the monster has broken out. Vicaria’s friend Aisha has a daughter, Jada, who talks about her new friend, Chris. Aisha was Chris’s girlfriend, and Jada is his daughter.
That night, Kango has one of his men follow Vicaria to Chris’s former apartment. There’s a peephole into Aisha and Jada’s apartment; that’s how he was talking to Jada.
Aisha invites Donald and Vicaria over for dinner. They all argue about the system holding them all back. Vicaria can see Chris watching them through the peephole. The police beat on the door, interrupting the meal, but Donald runs them off.
Outside, the cops run into Chris and shoot him several times, but he pounds the cop into a pulp. Donald goes home from the party and finds blood in his kitchen. Thinking it’s an intruder, he follows the blood trail into Chris’s room and sees his undead son.
Vicaria goes to see Kango, who hears that Curtis has died. His lieutenant, Jamaal, kills him in anger.
Meanwhile, Chris kills Donald. Vicaria comes home and knows what’s happened. Jamaal follows her, wanting revenge for Curtis, but Kango isn’t actually dead yet and tries to stop him. In the middle of this, Chris shows up and feeds Jamaal his machete.
Vicaria and Kango hide in the bedroom, and she admits that she’s the body snatcher. Vicaria thinks electricity might kill the monster. She runs to the lab for equipment while Kango tries to get to her bedroom for the other piece they need.
Vicaria runs into Jada, who has blood on her, and warns that Chris is coming. Kango drops off the piece of equipment but dies immediately; he also ran into Chris on the way there. She sets up the equipment just as Chris arrives. He comes inside, and she fries him.
Jada comes in and asks if Vicaria can bring back their family. “You can bring them back; I know you can.” Vicaria thinks for a minute. “They are still fresh.” It will go better this time, right? The two get to work…
It’s a modern, gender-swapped, racially tense update to Frankenstein. Little Jada is the creepiest kid we’ve seen this year.
The acting is good, the situation is dire at best, and the characters are all believable. The only thing that really takes a stretch is the fact that a teenager in high school could bring back the dead. But on the other hand, it’s also way out in the original story that an adult scientist with full medical training and a full lab could do it.
It’s definitely not a new story, but it’s a fun new twist, and I did like it.
The Relic (1997)
Directed by Peter Hyams
Written by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Amy Holden Jones
Stars Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt, James Whitmore
Run Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s not one to think about deeply. There are a number of points that really don’t hold up to scrutiny. But those aside, they still managed to put together a pretty entertaining movie. There’s a story that pulls you along; the cast is good, and the effects are decent. It entertains despite the faults.
A photographer takes photos of natives doing a fire dancing ritual. They cook up a pot of something that the white man drinks. He soon gets terrified of a man in a costume; it’s some kind of drug.
We cut to the shipyard. John Whitney, the man from before, yells at the captain that the crates he’s sending to the museum need to come off the ship. The captain refuses to unload the crates, so Whitney stows away with the crates. Turns out, it’s the wrong boat, and his crates go another way.
Six weeks later, Lt. D’Agosta, a detective, shows up on the scene; the boat has drifted in, apparently abandoned in Lake Michigan. There’s blood but no bodies. He and Detective Hollingsworth find the bodies of the missing sailors torn apart.
A week later, we follow a bunch of kids as they go to the museum. Dr. Green, an evolutionary biologist, is there. Dr. Cuthbert stops her to mention that Green’s grant is being delayed. Her nemesis, Greg Lee, is also up for consideration for the same grant. Green calls Lee a gerbil.
Green goes into Dr. Whitney’s lab and finds a bunch of crates. Dr. Frock explains that they came in by air freight this morning. There’s a bunch of relics from a South American lizard god. One of the crates is empty except for a bunch of leaves with little insect eggs on them. She takes a sample of the leaves, and the rest goes into the incinerator.
Some kids have hidden in the museum until after it closes that night. A big lizard-thing kills the security guard. Dr. Green sends her staff home and works there alone.
The next morning, the two detectives show up to investigate the dead guard. Dr. Green was the last one out the previous night, so the cops want to talk to her. D’Agosta talks to Cuthbert about her employees. Green gives the detective a tour of the science areas of the museum. He mentions that Whitney’s office was vandalized last night. They go in to look at the relic that came in the crates; it’s some kind of chimera creature.
D’Agosta goes to the morgue. The medical examiner thanks him for sending in seven decapitations this week. They do the autopsy on the guard, who has been clawed by something huge, even before losing his head. The skull is empty; the brain is gone. Where did it go?
That night, Dr. Green wanders around in the new “superstition” exhibit and hears something in there with her. No, that’s not a monster breathing heavily; it’s just a cleaning woman with asthma.
Cuthbert and D’Agosta talk about the big fund-raiser party tonight. The police are still searching the building for the murderer and find some bloody footprints. Hollingsworth reports that all the dead men on the ship were missing their hypothalamus, just like the guard. The detective talks to Dr. Frock about Whitney's work.
The cops find and shoot a man in the basement; he turns out to be a convicted rapist, and he’s got the dead guard’s wallet. D’Agosta doesn’t think he’s the murderer. The mayor calls D’Agosta and orders him to let the gala go on tonight.
A bug got into Green’s leaf samples, and it grew huge. She talks to Dr. Lee, who says it’s got the DNA of a beetle and a gecko.
The party at the museum begins. The mayor and his wife are there, as are Mr. and Mrs. Blaisedale, the big-money donors. Meanwhile, the police are still searching the basement with dogs in case there’s someone else down there.
Security wants to shut down the lab area where Green and Frock are working. Lee tells them there’s no one there, so they lock all the doors. Lee then monopolizes the Blaisedales for his grant speech.
D’Agosta learns that there are old tunnels under the museum that lead all the way to Lake Michigan, where the boat was found. The search dogs run ahead, but something kills them. D’Agosta, in the tunnels alone, finds a whole nest full of skeletons.
Hollingsworth runs upstairs to shut the party down, but they’re all in the “superstition” wing looking at the Kothoga relic from Brazil. Suddenly, a dead body falls into the exhibit, and everyone panics. The alarm goes off, so the security people watch as all the doors close in an emergency lockdown. The whole power grid shuts down (why?). The fire sprinklers go off. It’s pandemonium as the partygoers break windows and generally stampede like lunatics. Some are trapped inside behind the security doors.
The building engineers go to check out why the power went out, and find that the generators have been trashed. Before long, the engineers have been trashed as well. D’Agosta tells Hollingsworth where to go, and he’s going to lead everyone outside through the tunnels. The Blaisedales decide to stay put and wait it out.
D’Agosta finds Green and Frock in the tunnels, and they all see the lizard monster clearly. Green talks about the leaves, the eggs, and the virus that came on them. It’s probably just a local lizard that ate those leaves. Frock explains how the old-time natives used the leaves to defeat their enemies. They’d send in a monster they created and go into hiding until it ran out of enemy brains to eat and starved. She does some tests on the creature’s blood and says it’s probably still evolving.
Meanwhile, the monster attacks the mayor’s group in the tunnels. It kills the security chief and one of the cops. Dr. Lee tries to sneak away, but it gets him as well.
The SWAT team breaks in through a skylight and is immediately eaten. We see that Kothoga can climb walls. It then eats Dr. Frock. Green says the creature has a lot of human DNA. It may have started out as human and evolved into a monster.
D’Agosta and Green make their way through the tunnels, and the monster is right there with them, under the water.
Hollingsworth gets the mayor, Dr. Cuthbert, and some others out safely. Green goes back to her lab, and the computer reports that the monster is actually John Whitney, who has been mutated. The monster chases her through the back rooms and labs of the museum. She pours all kinds of flammable things on the floor.
The monster approaches but takes time to lick her all over. She throws her bomb and traps the creature in the now-burning lab. The monster explodes excessively.
The mayor shows up and sticks up for D’Agosta, whom he’s been yelling at throughout the film. Inside, D’Agosta lets Green out of the water tank she was hiding in.
It’s a monster lizard, huge, strong and tough but without any special powers. How or why would the museum’s computerized security system, the doors, and the sprinklers all go off while the entire power system fails? There are a lot of things in this film like that that make no sense at all. Security doors that can’t be opened manually from either side, even by the fire department? The creature seems to be in multiple places with zero to little travel time, making us think there was more than one. But no, it’s just a single monster traveling at the speed of plot
It’s quite long, but it moves along pretty well and never takes the time to get boring. The acting is decent enough, and there are a lot of familiar faces in this one.
They were hanging those leaves in the sewers as bait. Wonder what’s gonna happen when the rats eventually eat them?
As long as you don’t think too hard about some of it, it’s pretty entertaining.
Directed by Natalie Erika James
Written by Natalie Erika James, Christian White
Stars Robyn Nevin, Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, Steve Rodgers
Run Time: 1 Hour, 29 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was slow and chilling, with a deep sense of dread that lingers through much of it. And some outright horrifying moments. Is it all just a metaphor or is it literal? Some of both? It’s interesting to think about afterward. It’s well made, and we liked it quite a bit.
We open on a flooded bathtub. The water spreads across the floor and down the steps. It eventually spreads to where Edna is standing, naked, in the living room. Credits roll.
Edna’s daughter and granddaughter, Kay and Sam, arrive at the house. The neighbor calls, saying he hasn’t seen the old woman in a few days, so they’re going to check on her. They go inside and find the fruit in the bowl is rotten. They expect to find the old woman dead, but she’s nowhere to be found.
Kay goes to the constable and tells them that her mother is in her 80s and forgets things. Meanwhile, Sam searches the house; her grandmother is quite a hoarder.
Kay and Sam talk about their jobs and mundane stuff. The next day, the police set up search parties to comb the woods for Edna. They don’t find her and make plans to continue the search tomorrow. Jamie comes by that night and talks to Sam about Edna. Kay talks about Edna being worried that someone was coming into her house and moving things around; she dismissed that as an old woman forgetting things.
Sam puts on her grandmother’s sweater and finds a note in the pocket, “Don’t follow it.” Kay finds tapping coming from inside the wall. That night, she dreams of an old man dying alone in a cabin.
The next morning, Sam and Kay wake up to find that Edna’s back in the kitchen, making tea. She’s filthy, but otherwise, doesn’t have much to say. She keeps changing the subject. The doctor looks Edna over and asks about the bruise, but Edna says she must have fallen. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with her. “I suppose I went out.”
Kay knows that Edna’s mind is failing; there are Post-It notes everywhere and the old woman won’t say where she went. Kay shows Sam a drawing of the cabin from her dreams; her grandfather died there; their current house is using some of the same windows. Kay mentions putting Grandma in a home.
Late that night, Kay goes downstairs to see Edna having a conversation with… no one. “It’s here. Under the bed,” Edna says. Kay goes to the nursing home to talk to someone there. Her mother would be in a depressing facility in a depressing room. Back at the house, Sam realizes that Edna does have issues, even if she seems fine most of the time. Sam volunteers to move in with Edna to watch over her, but Kay thinks that’s a bad idea.
Kay dreams about her grandfather’s cabin again. This time, she sees Edna fall over dead and rot from neglect.
Kay later catches Edna trying to eat some old photos. She says she’s afraid of the window in the living room.
Sam asks Jamie’s father why he’s not allowed to visit Edna anymore. She forgot they were playing hide and seek, and she locked him in a closet for hours. Sam checks out that closet and finds a secret room behind it. Turns out, there’s a whole bunch of rooms hidden in there. There’s no way a house that size could have this many secret rooms and hallways. She can’t find her way out but does find many disturbing Post-Its on the walls.
That evening, Kay and Edna have no idea what happened to Sam. Kay sees that the “bruise” on Edna’s chest has gotten much larger. Edna then goes on a rampage, smashing things around the house.
The walls and floors are literally closing in on Sam. She kicks a hole in the wall, which leads to more tiny rooms. Outside, Kay finds the same closet and starts to explore. She finds Edna in there, but Edna is literally falling apart. Kay runs into Sam and warns her that Edna’s not Edna anymore.
Sam breaks a hole in the wall, and everyone gets out, including the Edna-monster. Kay whacks it a couple of times with a lead pipe. Kay remembers her grandfather dying alone and refuses to leave Edna, but she does lock Sam outside.
Kay carries the old woman upstairs to her bedroom. Her skin is peeling off, and Kay rolls some of it back to see what’s underneath. Her hair and scalp peel off next. Kay then peels the rest of her mother. Sam finds a way inside and is shocked at what her grandmother has turned into.
All three generations lay down in the bed, and Sam notices that Kay has a black spot on her back…
It’s well-filmed, and the acting is good all around. The house is dark and creepy, but still a modern-ish house. The creature effects don’t come into play until very near the end, but they’re decent.
It’s more metaphor than monster here. As far as I can tell, the point here is that dementia is a disease that eats you up until there’s nothing recognizable left. Places that are very familiar get confusing and start to close in on you. Also, it runs in families, so Kay and eventually Sam are going the same route.
Still, it was pretty entertaining, since you don’t really know what’s going on until it’s done.
Short Film: Maria Jose Maria (2023)
Directed by Chico Noras
Written by Timoteo de Azevedo, Miguel Raimundo, Chico Noras
Stars Nuno Alho, Eunice Correia, Andre Gago, Pedro Luzindro, Jose Neto
Run Time: 20:37
“Based on a true story.”
The policeman checks out a beheading victim. It looks like a professional did it, possibly a butcher. He finds something, possibly a clue.
A woman wakes up to find blood in her bed and calls for her mother, but she cannot find her anywhere. She goes to church to pray for forgiveness and talks to the priest, who asks her if she wants to confess anything. She admits that she’s no longer chaste and that God is ready to punish her sins. The priest later talks to the policeman.
The woman later complains that the devil is haunting her. Is she crazy, or is she right?
The high-contrast black and white gives it an old-timey, classic feel, and the locations add a lot to this as well. The music sets the mood, and we’re not quite clear on what’s going on for a long time.
We were just about to give it up as not completely making sense when the title card at the end explained the historical significance of the story, which cleared it all up.
Very interesting look and style choices here; definitely worth a watch!
The Goldsmith (2023)
Directed by Vincenzo Ricchiuto
Written by Vincenzo Ricchiuto, Germano Tarricone
Stars Giuseppe Pambieri, Stefania Casini, Tania Bambaci
Run Time: 89 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
We suspected right from the beginning that it wasn’t going to be a simple crime, but there was more to it than we expected. And it went further than we expected. The cast was good, the gore effects were realistic, and the story moves well. We really liked it.
Kids run through an abandoned building, pursued by an older man with a beard. It looks like the kids stole a gold cross. Things escalate, and the girl stabs the old man. Credits roll.
Antonio’s wife nags him about giving someone another chance, but Antonio says the kid is a deadbeat. He can learn the craft, but he’s no artist. As the two old people talk, three younger ones hang out outside, waiting for the oldsters to go to bed. Stefano is clearly the leader, and Ariana likes him a lot. The guy in the back seat is the one who came up with this particular plan. They’re the three kids we saw earlier, all grown up now.
The three get out of the car, put on masks, and take weapons out of the trunk. It’s time to go inside. They pick the lock and disable the alarm. They spread out, exploring, looking for the old man’s “lab.” They can’t find it, but Roberto loses his patience and goes upstairs to find out where it is from the old man himself. They burst into the oldsters’ bedroom and torment Antonio’s wife, Giovanna. Finally, Antonio relents and says he’ll show them where it is.
Antonio asks, “Are you sure you want to go in?” He leads them to a secret door that slides open. Inside is a bunch of jewelry and tools. Antonio is a goldsmith, and there are a lot of goodies in the room. Stefano and Arianna tie up the old folks, and then the three head for the gold room to loot it. As they load up their bags, we notice the door closing behind them automatically. The door was on a timer, and now they’re locked in.
Outside, a policeman drives by and notices the criminals’ parked car. He rings the bell just as Antonio and Giovanna get untied. The officer sees one of the masks on the floor, but the couple inside swear that they’re fine. She says the mask belongs to a grandchild. So he goes away.
Antonio turns on the camera in his workshop and addresses the criminals. Antonio promises he’s not going to call the police, as he has something far worse in store for them. He surprises them by knowing many personal things about them, including their names and that Arianna has a cat at home.
We get a flashback to a robbery that Stefano did on his own, freezing out the other two. Then he lied about it to Arianna and Roberto.
Giovanna tells Antonio that she might make the kids a cake. He says they’re criminals, but she wants to make one anyway.
Antonio continues telling his prisoners’ stories. He spills that Arianna aborted Roberto’s baby behind Stefano’s back. She lies about the whole story, but he knows the basics are true. In the ensuing scuffle, Roberto shoots Stefano.
Antonio tells Giovanna, “We’ve lost one,” and she’s disappointed. “He was the healthy one!” He forgets to hit the mute button so the prisoners can overhear the old people talking. It soon becomes clear that Antonio and Giovanna have plans for the surviving pair.
The policeman comes to the door again; he is upset about seeing that mask and wants to see it again. Masks like that were worn by robbers in the area. He notices a bruise on Giovanna’s face and marks on her wrists from being tied up. He asks what’s really going on, and Antonio says, “Nothing.” He finds the monitor screen and turns it on; he sees everything. Then Giovanna stabs him with a kitchen knife.
Roberto, in the cell, finds a back door with some stairs leading down. He and Arianna quickly descend. They find a big room with several tables; one of them has a person on it under a sheet. Suddenly, the room fills with gas, and they pass out.
They wake up strapped to tables as Antonio operates on the third person. That goes badly, but at least he has the two new ones. Giovanna tells them a bit about Antonio, and it seems there has been a long line of “experiments.” Antonio moves his surgical tools over to Roberto’s table. The old man then cuts Roberto’s eyelids off and removes an eye.
Meanwhile, Giulio, the criminals’ outside man, has killed his partner and finally arrives and comes inside. He works his way downstairs, where Roberto has now lost both eyes. But Antonio gives him golden replacement eyes with a jewel where the pupil goes. Turns out Giulio’s the son of the old couple, and he’s the one who tricked the criminals into doing all this. He’s the one who followed and learned all the trio’s secrets. Antonio has mixed feelings for his son– he’s the deadbeat he was talking about early on.
His eyes now replaced with jewels, Roberto wakes up. Meanwhile, Arianna grabs an instrument from the operating table and picks the lock on her handcuff. She stabs Antonio in the eye and gets herself loose. Roberto is dead. She whacks Guilio a few times over the head and runs upstairs, where she’s sedated by Giovanna and dragged back downstairs.
In the morning, Giovanna and Giulio talk. “Now it’s your turn. Are you up for it?” They go downstairs and get to work on Arianna’s eyes.
Sometime later, we see that her operation was a big success.
Those big “baby face” masks look really cool, but I can’t imagine it’d be easy to see anything, especially in a dark house.
There was a lot of backstory here that we didn’t get until the end, and even then, not everything was explained. The acting is good. There is some well-done gore, but not as much as you might expect. The pacing and camerawork are excellent. Mostly, we’re held in suspense as we wait to see why this is all happening.
Overall, I liked it a lot.
Final Destination (2000)
Directed by James Wong
Written by Glen Morgan, James Wong, Jeffrey Reddick
Stars Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck
Run Time: 1 Hour, 38 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
With a premonition, a group of youngsters and a teacher are saved from a fatal plane crash. But it’s not that simple, and it’s entertaining watching the way out ways that death still catches up to them. They try to figure things out and stay alive. Will they manage? Gotta watch to find out.
Alex and his friends are flying to France for a senior trip, and we see that he’s a little superstitious. His father says, “Live it up, Alex. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.” Alex, Billy, Tod, Christa, and the others board the plane. A Hari Krishna gives Alex a pamphlet, “Death is not the end,” he says. Alex is clearly afraid of flying, but eventually, the plane does take off.
Turbulence sets in, and it gets pretty rough. Then, things get out of hand, and they get an unexpected thrill ride ending in fiery death. No, wait, that was all just a dream. Or was it a premonition? Alex stands up and yells that the plane is going to explode, making a big scene. He gets removed from the flight, along with a few of his friends and two teachers, one of whom gets to go back on the flight.
The plane takes off without the group. Alex explains his dream, and no one believes him– until the plane actually explodes after takeoff. Alex… was right. The federal agents question everyone, especially Alex, who seemed to know what would happen. Everyone’s parents come to pick them up except for Clear, who gets a ride from Alex’s parents.
More than a month passes, and they still haven’t determined why the plane blew up. A lot of people look at Alex sideways as if he had something to do with it. Others think that maybe Alex is psychic and want him to tell them their fortunes.
That night, Tod goes to the bathroom, and we see the back of the toilet leaking. He starts to shave, clip his nose hairs, and play music on his boombox, and we see him narrowly avoid a few nasty accidents that he doesn’t even notice. Finally, he slips on the water and gets strangled to death on a laundry line hanging in the shower. We then see the toilet water run backward, reversing into the toilet as if it never happened.
We see that Alex’s been obsessing over flight crashes. He gets an idea about Tod and runs over to his house just as the paramedics wheel Tod’s body out. Tod’s father says Tod killed himself over guilt about leaving his brother on the plane; he blames Alex for that, too.
He goes to talk to Clear, and she admits that she believed everything he said on the plane, and she still does. She thinks the two of them have some kind of mental connection. “What if Tod was just the first of us?” They break into the funeral parlor and meet Mr. Bludworth, one of the creepiest morticians ever. He mentions that “In death, there are no escapes.” Bludworth tells them that Alex and his friends already cheated Death by walking off that plane; now Death has a new design for them. When they leave, he adds, “I’ll see you soon.”
Alex thinks Death is after them unless they can find the patterns and cheat Death again. This is all a bit much for Clear to swallow. Right then, Carter, the class jerk, stops by to be annoying. After an argument, Terry walks out in front of a bus and gets pulverized.
A TV report on the plane sparks something in Alex, and now he realizes that the people are dying in the exact same order they would have on the plane. Mrs. Lewton is next.
Lewton sees Alex hanging around her front yard at night and calls Agent Schreck. The agents take Alex into custody, and he tells them what he believes. As he explains “the pattern” to the agents, Lewton works in her kitchen. We see kitchen knives, a gas stove, and boiling tea water, but nothing hurts her. Finally, her coffee mug gets a crack in it and drips vodka into her computer monitor, which explodes and sends a glass shard to cut her throat. As if that wasn’t enough, the trail of vodka ignites and explodes the gas stove. She finally gets impaled on one of those kitchen knives. She got them all, all at once!
Billy sees Alex run out of Lewton’s house just as the whole place explodes. Clear finds Billy and Carter and says that only Alex knows which one of them is next. Clear talks to Alex and tells him how her parents died. Alex says all four of them are on the same list. Carter freaks out and stops the car right on the railroad tracks. The train’s coming, and Carter won’t get out of the car. Carter smugly says, “It ain’t my time,” as the engine refuses to start. The car doors suddenly lock with him inside. Alex pulls him out at just the last second as the train smashes his car.
Whew, everyone is okay, they think, as the train runs over a piece of metal that shoots up and completely beheads Billy. Alex is confused because Carter should have been next. Alex says he’s next– can he break the pattern?
Alex goes home and “death proofs” the cabin in the woods where he’s staying. A sequence of Rube-Goldbergian death situations happens, but he luckily avoids all of them. “I can beat you!” Then he realizes that he’s wrong about the order of things; Clear’s seat was in front of his, so she’s next. He runs outside, narrowly avoiding the agents.
At Clear’s house, there’s a lightning storm going on. There’s a power line down in her yard, which is sparking and acting crazy. There’s some craziness with a dog, a laundry pole, and a swimming pool. Somehow, the electrical disturbances follow her inside, then into the car; a hundred crazy things happen all at once.
There’s no way for Clear to survive, so Alex chooses to trade places with her. He grabs the live wire just as the car explodes. Clear and the agents run in to find Alex dead. The agents do CPR on Alex.
We cut to a boarding ramp for an airplane six months later. Carter and Clear are on the plane, and so is Alex– the agents saved his life after all. They laugh at the whole story. Did they win? Alex still wonders about the design. Could Alex still be next? Alex looks around at all the things that could be dangerous. More hilariously crazy accidents happen, and Carter is killed. It’s not over…
The main characters’ last names here are for famous horror directors: Browning, Hitchcock, Lewton, Waggoner, Murnau, Lewton, and Weine. None of these names are particularly relevant to the characters, but it’s a nice homage. The movie itself was inspired by “Sole Survivor” (1984) and has a very similar basic plot.
The fun here is in watching people you know are going to die, narrowly avoiding several commonplace, normal, near-death accidents only for something absolutely crazy to finish them off finally.
This was really good and eventually led to at least five sequels.
Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm (1998)
AKA “Subspecies : The Awakening”
Directed by Ted Nicolaou
Written by Ted Nicolaou
Stars Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Jonathan Morris, Ioana Abur
Run Time: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes
Spoiler-free judgment zone
This is a series that continues to maintain quality in the sequels with this 4th installment. It takes up where the third film left off and builds on more of the good stuff. The effects and makeup are great, and the story is entertaining. If you liked the first three, you’ll like this one.
We watch Radu die as he did at the end of the previous film. We watch Becky and Mel put Michelle in a body bag and carry her away. We also watch Radu’s burned corpse fall next to the bloodstone, which rejuvenates him enough to stagger inside. Credits roll as we get flashbacks of what came before.
Ana drives down the road and finds a car overturned. Becky and Mel are dead. She calls the police to come, but it’s way out in the country. Why is there a body bag lying on the ground nearby? Ana opens it, and Michelle, inside, reacts badly to the sunlight.
Ana puts the body bag into her own car and takes her to the Vitalis Institute, where she’s a doctor. Dr. Nicolescu says, “This bag is for corpses.” He looks like Bela Lugosi crossed with Lon Chaney Jr., and he also recognizes immediately that Michelle is a vampire. Ana thinks that’s impossible, but Nicolescu knows all about them.
At dusk, Michelle wakes up and hears from Ana that her sister was killed in a car crash. She says Radu Vladisas bit her, and Nicolescu wants to know all about it. He looks like a good guy; we’re sure he’s sincere about helping Michelle. OK, he’s obviously a bad guy. He promises to help Michelle.
Nicolescu says Radu cannot come into their hospital without an invitation. He also knows about the bloodstone. “You are not the first vampire to seek my help,” he says and offers her a bag of blood, which she eagerly digs into.
Back in the castle, Radu wakes up, and he’s looking much healthier than he did before. He goes to a tomb and goes downstairs to visit Ash and his own protege Serena, more of Radu’s disciples. Ash promises to assist him with anything he needs. Ash talks about income from the casino and brothel. When Radu suggests maybe he could stay, Ash looks less than thrilled.
Detective Voda comes to see Ana about the accident. She lies about finding Michelle. He asks about Lt. Marin from the previous film, and we see the lieutenant wake up out in a field and run to his car, not as dead as we thought. He stumbles into the police station and tries to eat a sandwich, which he promptly vomits up. Wine goes the same way. He spots a mouse on the floor and sucks it dry; yes, he’s a vampire now.
Serena asks Radu to kill Ash, but Radu says that’s forbidden. He feeds her from the bloodstone if she promises to serve him.
Back at the hospital, Nicolescu draws blood from Michelle just before dawn. He promises that tonight, they’ll begin her treatment. Nicolescu knows Radu will be paying them a visit eventually. They talk about Nicolescu’s anti-aging treatments. He then drugs Ana and drinks some of her blood. He’s already a vampire, but he can give himself a serum to walk in the daylight.
Detective Voda chews out Marin, thinking he’s drunk. Marin staggers out of the police station and hides in a nearby crypt.
Nicolescu wants to find the secret to eternal youth in Michelle’s DNA since the bloodstone has changed her. He, too, wants the bloodstone. He’s set up lamps, holy water, and stakes to use on Radu if necessary. Serene then goes upstairs and tells Ash that they have to kill Radu for the bloodstone.
Night falls, and Radu leaves the crypt. He hears Marin, who was accidentally locked into the crypt next door. He asks about Michelle, but Marin doesn’t know but mentions Ana was a witness to the accident.
Nicolescu drains Michelle’s blood and purifies it as part of his treatment, and Radu feels that. Radu flies away, leaving Marin at the mercy of Serena. Radu shows up at the hospital and announces himself for permission to enter. The doctors sedate Michelle and then go down to speak with Radu. They argue about turning Michelle mortal again. Radu asks who made Nicolescu, and Nicolescu says it was Ash.
Nicolescu wants a few drops from the bloodstone for “science.” Radu agrees to give him three drops in return for access, and Nicolescu agrees. Then the lights come on, and the holy water goes into play. Nicolescu stakes Radu, and Michelle awakens to help her master. She uses her shadow teleportation to appear next to Radu, and she pulls the stake out. Both vampires fly away.
Nicolescu and Ana run into Serena, who now offers to help them. “I will tell you where he sleeps if you promise to destroy him.” But she’ll only tell Ana. She tells them exactly which tomb to look in.
Serena tells Ash about her plan. She calls Nicolescu “Dr. Blood,” which is a complication. Ash explains that Nicolescu is his spawn but has altered himself with science. Michelle and Radu then dine on tourists. Then they come home and evict Ash. Since Ash is Radu’s spawn, he has no choice but to obey. Radu and Michelle go to their crypt.
Nicolescu drugs Ana again, but not enough that she doesn’t catch Nicolescu drinking someone. He explains vampirism from his point of view. The two of them, along with Dr. Lupu, go off to the cemetery. They split up to find the right tomb. They don’t get inside until an hour and 20 minutes before sunset.
They find Radu and Michelle asleep in the deep crypt on the seventh level. Radu wakes up at the last second. So does Michelle, but she’s now gone completely under his control. Nicolescu throws Ana to Radu as an “offering.” Radu offers Nicolescu a taste of the bloodstone, but “Dr. Blood” loses his head.
Lupu opens the door when he hears Ana scream. It’s not Ana, it’s Serena, and she drains him dry. Radu catches up to Ana and offers her to Michelle. Michelle hacks his neck with an ax, and then Ana beheads him. She then takes the bloodstone. They burn Radu’s body; Serena comes in afterward and spits on his burning corpse.
Michelle tells Ana to take Radu’s head out into the sunlight. Ash and Serena attack Ana. The old woman who runs the cemetery opens the door, lets the sunlight in, and drives the vamps away.
Ana uses the bloodstone to help Michelle as Radu’s head burns.
It’s really good. It starts up where the previous film ended and then adds a bunch of new characters, some from the not-so-successful spin-off, “Vampire Journals” from the previous year. It has everything that made the previous films good, and it adds a lot. For the fourth (or fifth) film in a franchise, it’s really well done.
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