"Embrace me as your master and all that is mine will be yours.
Spurn me and I will torment you to eternity."

A thoroughly satisfying entry that comes within inches of being my favorite of the four. Gorgeous, thrilling shadow work, wonderful performances by all, and double that by Anders Hove: it's impossible to imagine anyone else ever playing Radu.

Opens (as they all will) directly after the close of the previous film, with Radu, resurrected with the help of his Subspecies, rising to find Stefan and Michelle in their undead rest. He impales Stefan ("Forgive me, brother...the Bloodstone is mine!") but for some reason doesn't immediately grab the Stone, turning instead to Michelle. He is about to spear her as well when the first glance of the sun sends him fleeing for shelter. Michelle rises and after a moment's grief for Stefan, runs for her life, taking the Bloodstone. (There's a wonderful, eerie moment in her room at the inn when, rifling through her bag, she makes sure of her belongings - clothes, travellers' checks, passport - and realizes which one she no longer has: her reflection.) Radu, having thrown a howling, bone-smashing tantrum atop Stefan's skeleton upon finding it no longer clutched the Bloodstone, realizes where it must be - and away we go.

There's enough of the plot in my IMDB review, so I'm not going over that again. What I want to talk about here is the heartrending care and sensitivity of Hove's performance as Radu. At some point during the two years between S-I and S-II/III he seems to have given the character a lot of thought, and decided - it seems to me - that Radu is essentially a child. Bright, sensitive, easily hurt, with a child's quick temper and jealousy and thoughtless cruelty, and a child's desperate hunger for love and attention, every bit as intense and simple as his undead need for blood. His father despised him; his mother, as we're about to see, wants no part of him; his brother could only pity him, if that. So he has no idea what to do: he appeals, he brings presents, he tries to placate or demand, and when they don't work he explodes into blind rage and rips out throats. "Fear and suffering are the true pleasures for such as we," he muses, surely because they're the most intense emotions he's been permitted to experience.

So: OK, in S-I we learned that he was essentially his mother's idea: she was the one who wanted an exceptional child. So how does Mom greet him when they first meet onscreen? "You! You are forbidden here!" [Is there nowhere the poor thing is welcome?] "Mummy," he replies plaintively (her given name is evilly appropriate; not only does it suit Radu's childlike tone, she really does look mummified), "have you no love in your heart for your most faithful son?" Apparently not: "Curse you, Radu, leave my abode!" she snaps, forbidding him even to sleep the day there, and irritably snatching away the shiny necklace he plays with as if he were a sticky-fingered three-year-old. (Radu loves sparkly things; a regular little magpie.) Mummy, however, wants only the Bloodstone...

Spurned by Michelle in their first face-to-face, he returns to Mummy with the Stone and tries to unburden his heart in this extraordinary exchange:
"What troubles you, child?"
"I hunger for love," he whispers.
"Love," she dismisses, "is for mortals, not for such as we."
"I loved my brother Stefan," he says in that voice like soft paper tearing, "and I wish I had not taken his life."

(..OK, he also says "Tormenting him was such a sweet pleasure," but then my own big brother would probably say the same about me.)

-- Surely, when he assures Michelle later that "Fear not...soon your mortal feelings will cease to cause you pain," he hopes as much for himself. Even after a thousand years.

-- Though between movies the Bloodstone has magically turned from a domed lump in a plain base to a gorgeous crystal in an ornate silver talon base that somewhat resembles Radu's hands, when Prof. Popescu unearths an illustration of it in the ancient BOOK OF VLADISLAS it looks like the new version.
-- The climactic battle includes a magickal dagger which can pin a vampire's shadow as if it were flesh - what a neat idea!

...go back to Blood of Saints.
...go on to Bloodlust: Subspecies III..