In 1995 the film Species has a bonafide hit taking in double it’s budget at the US box office along. The film followed a group of people who receive a transmission from an extra terrestrial intelligence detailing an alien DNA structure and how to splice it with human DNA. The result of the experiment was Sil (Natasha Henstridge), a sensual and deadly creature who could change form from an alluring human female to an armored beast. But once Sil got loose on society, it was up to the group to locate and destroy her before she found a mate and bred. Species went over well with audiences but many did not know it actually spawned (pun intended) three sequels, one in theatres and two directly to home video. This month all of those sequels are making their Blu-ray debut.
Species II begins with two astronauts returning to Earth with one of them infected with alien DNA after a mission to Mars. Once back on Earth the astronaut starts to transform into something hideous and deadly and is loose on the streets. Now Press (Michael Madsen and Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) must seek the help of a captured and genetically re-engineered Sil (Henstridge) to find the rogue creature before it mates and endangers the public.
Species III follows Sara (Sunny Mabrey), the daughter of Sil. Sara is working with Dr. Abbot (Robert Knepper) to develop perfect DNA using Sara’s eggs but when flawed half-breeds try to reproduce with Sara to protect their own species, the fate of everyone could be in jeopardy.
In Species: The Awakening, Dr. Hollander (Ben Cross) has experimented with alien DNA and created Miranda (Helena Mattsson) who thinks she is Hollander’s niece. But when she passes out after her birthday and transforms into a deadly creature and kills people, Hollander takes her to Mexico to consult with his former partner to try and find a way to tame Miranda.
Okay, let’s start with Species II. This is easily the best film of the lot and perhaps the best film in the whole series. But not because it is a great film. It is simply because it is one of the most batshit crazy movies you will ever see. The story is ridiculous and the acting, even by the always entertaining Madsen, Helgenberger, Henstridge, Mykelti Williamson, George Dzundza, and James Cromwell, is so over the top and laughable. But I will be damned if this isn’t one of the most action packed sci fi horror films I have ever seen and it is packed front to back with some of the best practical effects I have ever seen. I am talking John Carpenter’s The Thing level effects. This is about as much fun as you could possibly have and is another perfect example of the quintessential movie night pick when you have friends over. Highly recommended.
The double feature Blu-ray of Species III and Species: The Awakening is not quite up to the standard of the first two films but they are entertaining on a b-movie level nonetheless. Species III is a bit of a drag but Robert Knepper, known best for his role on Prison Break, is the saving grace of this movie. There are still some decent effects and action, just not enough of them.
Species: The Awakening is a solid entry in the series. Again you get one credible actor doing a solid job, this time it is Ben Cross. But you also get a great performance from Helena Mattsson as Miranda. You actually feel bad for her and she is pretty great in the role replacing Natasha Henstridge and the lackluster Sunny Mabrey in Species III. Mattsson is great here and although the action and effects could have used some bolstering here, it is still an entertaining enough sequel and considering you get it packaged with Species III, it’s a pretty great double feature.
All in all the Species series is a pretty solid one with sequels that actually work better than many horror sequels tend to. Recommended.