If during the Nineties, you were a male between the ages of puberty, and dead, it is likely that you actively sought, and consumed the movie Species. It was basically Aliens with lots of nudity. It was supermodel Natasha Henstridge’s first movie, and cemented her position in spank-banks the world over. Some people may be unaware that, a few years later they made a sequel, with Henstridge returning, though she’s a little less the main focus of the movie this time around. And, believe it or not, the sequel is regarded by many, as being as good as, if not better than the original. I’ll bet you wouldn’t believe me if I told you that they even went on to make two sequels after that, though one of them is just barely entertaining, and the final sequel in the franchise borders on unwatchable. Well, Scream Factory has now released a single-disc Blu-ray edition of Species II, as well as a two disc Blu-ray edition of Species III, and Species Awakening.
Of the three films making their Blu-ray debut, Species II is clearly the most important. The others, people who collect physical media, the completists, they’ll gobble the two latter sequels up, they’ll sit pretty on their shelves, but it’s unlikely that they’ll find a regular rotation in their players. Species II, however, is in a lot of ways, even better than the first movie. It’s just a fun time. The movie is hilarious and raunchy, and there’s enough practical gore and monster effects to satisfy almost any horror-hound, even the most casual genre enthusiast. Now, there are also several scenes of some truly terrible CGI, but it’s not the movie’s fault. This was released in 1998, and CG effects in most movies — no matter the budget — were pretty awful, so it’s something I can easily forgive.
Species II is entertainingly vulgar. It revels in the unnecessary use of the word “fuck” and I find it to be hilarious. George Dzundza as the Colonel is particularly funny. It seems like he punctuates his sentences with the word, and it makes for a hell of a fun time. In addition to a liberal peppering of the word fuck, Species II is quite the gory little monster movie. Impossible closeup shots of carnage are, of course, CG, but the effects team had quite a bit of fun as well. The full-form species alien has never looked good, and nothing much has changed here. It looks like a goofy guy running around in a rubber suit, and that’s okay. It’s a fun little nostalgic romp, filled with ample amounts of gratuitous nudity and violence. Sounds like a good time, huh?
Species III, and even more so, Species: The Awakening are turds. I can’t imagine anyone seeing either of these movies, and walking away satisfied. These are half-assed Direct-To-Video sequels, and it shows. And not today’s standard of DTV, either. We live in an age where the films that go straight to disc, or make their big debut on Video On-Demand services are of higher quality than whatever happens to be in theaters that week. Such was not the case back in the Eighties and Nineties. Sure, there were a few solid DTV gems, mostly on the action film front, but for the most part, these were the K-mart knockoffs of big-budgeted blockbusters. Henstridge returns in the opening scene of III, in a sort of “pass-the-torch” moment, but then she is gone from the series forever, and it’s one of the many things it suffers from. But, like I said, gotta catch ’em all.
Species II is presented as a single-disc Blu-ray, and Species III and The Awakening are released as a two-disc Blu-ray collection. It’s smart for them to configure these releases this way, rather than box everything up together. That way, people who want the awesome Species II can have it, and those of us who love to torture ourselves with something like Species III and The Awakening can do so at our leisure. All three movies look great on Blu-ray. There is a bit of softness, but it can be attributed to the fact that movies from the late-Nineties aren’t translating as well to the HD format as some other eras of film. It does not appear that a great deal, if any, digital enhancement has occurred here. There isn’t a ton of bonus content, but there is actually a little more than is usually included in these standard Blu-ray releases. There are some new interviews and such, and for the price, it makes these quite collectible. I can’t see these movies getting a better release anytime soon, so if you already have Species and want to finish the entire collection off on-the-cheap, now is your opportunity.