A group of four friends return to the place where a massacre happened years before and are trapped as an Indian curse claims more victims.
It takes a lot of balls to create a cult-style indie horror movie that checks in at around two hours and then spends the first hour developing the characters with little to no horror. Wicked Pixel Cinema did just that with this sequel to its first feature length movie. Hell, with the exception of seeing ghosts and archival footage of the original massacre, nothing approaching gore even appears until 70 minutes into the movie.
More than ten years after the release of the original cult classic by Eric Stanze, the sequel picks up with the same storyline, but a new set of victims. Directed by Jason Christ in his feature length directorial debut, he creates a movie that actually seems more of a character piece than a straight out horror film. This is an ambitious task considering the varied acting experience on display. Eric Stanze returns to act in the sequel to his original movie and does a good job in his role as a man named Zack, searching for the truth behind mysterious murders years ago.
Benjamin Gaa is also impressive in his role as a filmmaker named Tyge who returns home after the untimely death of an actor on the set of his latest movie. This storyline must have been hard to film, and had to be considered almost autobiographical. In 1999, Wicked Pixel collaborator Tommy Biondo was tragically killed in an on set accident. Knowing that piece of information, this plot point carries even more meaning.
The movie starts off with a video of a woman apparently being stalked and killed by something. The video is being watched by Ashley, the sister of the victim. Soon, the sister is paired up with Tyge and Zack as they go to the land where the murders happened and the possession and killings begin once again.
The style of filmmaking is full of Christ’s love of arty, experimental filmmaking. If you have seen any of Jason Christ’s short films through Wicked Pixel’s DVDs (The Severed Heads Network), you would know what I am talking about. However, while The Severed Heads Network DVD did nothing for me, I was impressed with Christ’s filmmaking skills and he really came through here. While I think many of the scenes are a little too bright and washed out, his skills as a director of both framing and directing the actors is solid for a first timer.
With the way the story is set up, you don’t need to have seen the first film to catch up with this film. The biggest complaint with horror movies is not caring about the characters and never getting to know them before they die. This movie stretches the characterization out a little too much as you want to know when the horror is going to start. It is almost as if you are watching two movies merged into one, and it really pays off with the gore effects and all out horror that dominates the second half of the film. The gore is a blast to watch and this is the area that Wicked Pixel excels in. The chainsaw massacres are just disgusting fun.
What makes the movie work so well is the fact that the characters actively work to solve the mysteries instead of just running around blindly getting killed. It is what separates a smart horror film from the usual trash that litters video shelves. It is a little more experimental and artistic than I care for, but it is extremely well done. Add points also for refusing to have any semblance of a “happy ending.” I had extremely low expectations for this Wicked Pixel picture, but once I watched it I have a new appreciation for what they are trying to do.
Wow. Independent art films are not supposed to be like this. This is a 2-Disc Special Edition of a 2-hour independent horror movie.
We get not one, not two, but three different commentary tracks. The first track is with writer/director Jason Christ. Actually, he is the Director/Writer/Producer/Cinematographer/Editor of the movie. Usually when you get one person talking in a commentary track, you get lots of silence. Not here. Christ talks continuously through the entire movie, explaining every scene, talking about influences and giving lots of behind the scenes information. The second track is with Christ, actor/producer/editor Eric Stanze and special effects artist Patrick Voss. There is a bit of repeating by Christ, but the information by Stanze about the shoot and Voss about his special effects work is interesting as they describe how they achieved the gore in the movie. The third track is with the four main cast members, Stanze, Benjamin Gaa, Emily Haack and David Propst. As is the case with most actor tracks, the four joke and share memories of the shoot. All three tracks are very interesting to listen to, and none have the silent time you get in a lot of movies.
On the second disc, we get the Making-Of documentary – Harvest Season: The Making of Savage Harvest 2: October Blood. Jason Christ talked about how Savage Harvest was like The Evil Dead, and he wanted to create the sequel of it on a larger canvass, much like Dawn of the Dead did. Stanze also made interesting comments about how he used his leverage as the producer to make sure that his character could be beefed up a bit. Overall, good stuff filled with even more information about the story and the shoot itself. I thought there was a bit off ass kissing in the documentary, but then actor David Propst called Christ a nice guy who was an asshole as a director. These guys have loaded this disc up with great, uncensored information. All Making-Of documentaries should be this honest. It clocks in at a little over an hour in length.
There are just over five minutes of deleted scenes that you can watch with or without commentary by director Jason Christ. The commentary track is great as Christ explains why he cut the scenes from the movie, and remains honest and outgoing when discussing it. Most of the deleted scenes were in the characterization process during the first hour and he actually mentions that he decided the wait for the horror was taking too long and they needed to speed it up. I can only imagine. Only ten seconds of the deleted scenes came after the possessions began to occur. There is also an Easter Egg deleted scene where the character of Tyge is trying to talk to a farmer. Every time the farmer speaks all you hear are cows mooing.
Next up is about ten minutes worth of Outtakes, a three minute still photo montage from the movie and a gross three minute medical examination of a charred corpse.
Finally, we get three short films by Jason Christ. The first is The Quiet Place, and you can watch it with or without commentary by Christ. The short is from 2001 and is comprised entirely of 35mm stills pieced together as an experimental art film. It is VERY interesting as the movie was sped up and slowed down with the still photos showing the story as it took place. This was amazing work by Christ. The second short is titled Blurred. It is a pretty disturbing short, to say the least. The third short is called Vision and ends with an interesting twist. All three are experimental art films and shows one of the finest young filmmakers in that specific style.
On a side note, all my ratings are based on the DVDs themselves. The movie by itself would be maybe a 5.1, but the overall DVD is very, very nice and raises the score drastically.