Continuing the saga of the evil vampire Radu (Anders Hove, who has owned the role since the very first movie) and the woman he tries to bring under his control (Michelle, played once again by Denice Duff), this movie follows directly on from the events of part three and assumes that if you've come this far then you will enjoy more of the same. There is another film that came out before this one, Vampire Journals, but a) it's more of a companion piece than a direct sequel/prequel and b) I just thought viewing the movies numbered 1 to 4 would make for a neater presentation on my blog.
Ted Nicolaou is once again in charge of the writing and directing duties and he does slightly better here than he did with the third instalment. It may still be drawing things out much further than they need to be drawn but there are also one or two new ingredients that add some entertainment.
While Radu tries once more to get Michelle obeying him unconditionally she is helped out by a young woman (Ioana Abur) and a doctor (Mihai Dinvale) who seems to take the story of vampirism and the bloodstone in his stride. This frustrates Radu no end, of course, but he is able to take out his frustrations on some other vampires that are beneath him in the pecking order (Ash, played by Jonathon Morris and Serena, played by Floriela Grappini). Ion Haiduc also returns as Lt. Marin but is given a lot less to do this time.
I wouldn't say that this movie is full of twists and turns but it does try to pile on the drama in a number of different ways, be it Radu reclaiming what is rightfully his or the treachery shown by people seeming eager to taste immortality. The melodrama is mixed in with the horror to good effect, putting this on a par with some warped soap opera. Maybe even Dark Shadows (though I never saw the original show so I may be way off base with that comparison).
The real problems come from the strangeness of it all. Anders Hove has been strange from the very first scenes in the franchise but to see him joined by a growing group of ever-weirder supporting characters just makes for an experience that's a bit too odd to enjoy. Especially when one of those characters is being played by Jonathon Morris (arguably still best known to UK audiences for his role in the long-running sitcom "Bread"). It's not that Morris is bad, it's just that I couldn't shake the feeling that he shouldn't have been there in the first place. Ioana Abur isn't great but Floriela Grappini is a bit better so that helps. And then we have Mihai Dinvale, overacting to amusing effect.
The design work is nice when it's given a chance to shine but there are many scenes here that just feel a bit slapdash and cheap. Of course, there's a case to be made that all Full Moon Productions are slapdash and cheap but some of the better features do a good job of hiding it whereas this one doesn't. The soundtrack that often sounds like someone taking a balloon animal to the vet is another negative in a film that still just manages to be entertaining enough to scrape an average rating.