The film franchise Subspecies from Full Moon Features made its way into the realm of popular culture in the early 90s. The direct-to-video horror series featured a vampric tale set against a Romanian backdrop centered on Radu Vladislas, a vampire hellbent on turning college student Michelle Morgan into his very own fledgling. The 1991 film spawned four sequels in the 90s and since has amassed an amazingly faithful cult following. Fans can rejoice as a direct squel to the movies has been created at Action Lab: Danger Zone in the form of a comic book miniseries. And who better to helm the title than a writer and lover of the horror genre, as well as the Subspecies films, fan favorite writer Cullen Bunn.
Teaming with co-writer JimmyZ Johnston (Micronauts), artist Daniel J. Logan (Puppet Master: Curtain Call), colorist Yann Perrelet (Puppet Master: Curtain Call), and letterer Micah Myers (Gingerdead Man Meets Evil Bong), Bunn (Deadpool, Harrow County, The Sixth Gun) had the unique opportunity to continue building upon the characters and stories from the movies and bring the next adventure to the comic book medium.
In a press release from Action Lab, Cullen spoke about the Subspecies comic book and his passion for the film franchise:
This book is a direct sequel to the Subspecies movies. We’re not rebooting anything or forgetting what has come before. It has ties that go as far back as the earliest scenes of the first movie. It’s a natural continuation of Radu’s story. I loved all of the Full Moon movies, but Subspecies is probably my favorite. I want to bring that love to this comic book and share it with other fans of the film series.In this bloody tale, Radu rises to terrorize the innocent once again, only this time, there are FIVE Radus instead of just one. If you are a horror lover, then this is the book for you. It’s bloody and vicious and terrifying. JimmyZ and I really studied the Subspecies movies in order to tell a story that compliments, continues, and elevates what has come before.
For me, there are vivid memories of watching Full Moon movies for the first time. There was a thrill, a sense of subversion, a delightful fright. I want readers to have the same sense when reading this series. I want them to feel like they are sitting in a dark room, eating popcorn, and watching Subspecies. Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth with the question, “Am I a horror writer?” A lot of other comic creators will dodge that definition. You know what, though? I’m a horror writer, by God. Horror–in all its forms–is where I live and breathe. The Subspecies movies helped to guide me down that path in some way, I suppose. So, this series is a “thank you” to Full Moon. For other Subspecies fans, here are the characters you love, and they’re coming from me, someone who loves them as much as you do.
PopCultHQ had the true honor to speak with the accomplished writer about working on the miniseries. So sit back, relax, and hear from the writer himself as he discusses the evolving of Radu, working with Full Moon Entertainment, and as he explains the importance of the comic book having the feel like a Full Moon film.
PopCultHQ’s Interview w/ Cullen Bunn
Writer of Action Lab: Danger Zone’s SUBSPECIES
PopCultHQ: The 1991 film Subspecies, consider by many to be a true B-rated vampire film, has a tremendous following of fans. Whether of the vampire genre or the the horror-themed Full Moon Entertainment titles, the support from the fanbase has given the films longevity and maintained interest for years. What is the most important aspect of this sequel to the Subspecies films you want to bring out in the storytelling?
Cullen Bunn: It was important to us that this book FEELS like a Full Moon movie. I love all the Full Moon flicks, and part of that is because they have a distinct look and mood and feel. The look, the tone, the voices—all had to be just right. SUBSPECIES is perhaps my favorite of their movies, so I wanted to treat this book with the reverence the franchise deserves. I want fans of the SUBSPECIES movies to pick this series up and feel like they had just popped a VHS tape into the player.
PopCultHQ: How involved are you with Full Moon Entertainment with this series? As a continuation of the narrative from the films, how strictly must you adhere to the source material? How much freedom do you have in creating and exploring this world?
Cullen Bunn: I don’t think Full Moon Entertainment ever had to worry about us taking this series into territory that didn’t fit with their vision. Both Jimmy and I went into the project with plans to honor what had gone before. Of course, they saw everything we proposed and they had final approvals at every step. They were a breeze to work with, though. They were very supportive of the project.
PopCultHQ: Not only is this a continuation of Radu’s story, there are now 5 Radus?! If that doesn’t scream terror, I’m not sure what would. How deep do you plan on exploring, and expanding, the Rados’ mythos?
Cullen Bunn: This series definitely expands on Radu as a character, but it also calls back to the very first SUBSPECIES movie. The origin of the 5 Radus is a nod to some of my favorite parts of the film series. What’s fun about the five different vampires is that they all have different personalities and agendas.
PopCultHQ: What do you enjoy most about working with JimmyZ Johnston?
Cullen Bunn: Jimmy is as much of a horror fan as I am, so sometimes working with him is a lot like hanging out and talking about our favorite stories, comics, novels, and movies. Of course, sometimes that gets in the way of productivity.
PopCultHQ: Your artist for SUBSPECIES is Daniel J. Logan, who really captures the dark, harsh, and sometimes brutal essence of the series. What’s it been like working with Daniel helping create your vision?
Cullen Bunn: The book looks and feels like a SUBSPECIES movie, and that’s just what we wanted. It is dark and mysterious and bloody. And there’s a European feel to the setting that I worried would be tough to capture… but there it is.
Cullen Bunn: It’s difficult to get “jump scares” in a comic book. You’re dealing with static images. But you can still establish mood. You can still make readers fear for the safety of the characters. The SUBSPECIES movies were heavy on ambience, and we can at least capture some of that in the book.
PopCultHQ: What would you say to someone who is unfamiliar with the Subspecies movies but loves comics?
Cullen Bunn: The good news is this series stands completely on its own. If you’ve never watched SUBSPECIES, you can still jump into this comic and enjoy the story. We set you up with everything you need to know. Again, that goes back to the Full Moon movies in general. Even if you joined in with, say, part three of a particular series, you always got caught up pretty quickly.
What kind of thrill ride are they in for? This is a thrill ride with buckets and buckets of blood.
And very drooly vampires.
A very special thanks go out to Cullen Bunn for taking the time to speak with PopCultHQ. Be sure to follow Cullen and the rest of the creators on SUBSPECIES online (links at bottom). This is a great time to pick up his Action Lab: Danger Zone series SUBSPECIES, as all three issues are available at fine local comic shops and online retailers. Plus, the collected trade paperback (preview below) just released this week so you can enjoy the vampiric tale in its entirety and relive the feels from the Full Moon film franchise!
SUBSPECIES Vol. 1 TPB
96 pgs./ M / FC $9.99
Michelle survived being attacked by the vampire Radu, defeated him on more than one occasion, and has been living with the fallout for years. Her life forever changed since she was infected by him, she has adjusted to her existence as a creature of the night. Now, though, the unthinkable has happened. Radu has resurfaced… only now there appears to be FIVE incarnations of the fiendish vampire.
This volume collects the complete three issue series.
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Cullen Bunn
Artist – Daniel J. Logan
Colorist: Yann Perrelet
Letterer – Micah Myers
Publisher – Action Lab: Danger Zone