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Savage Harvest   B+

Wicked Pixel Cinema

Year Released: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Eric Stanze
Writer: Eric Stanze
Cast: Lisa Morrison, Romona Midgett, William Clifton, David Berliner, DJ Vivona, Rebecca Kennebeck, Rick Fischer, Pat Coffey.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Wow. Savage Harvest really takes the cake as the most visually stunning shot-on-video movie I've seen. It's got an aesthetic quality not often found at budgets this low, and it doesn't disappoint as a good ol' gorefest, either. This one should definitely please fans of Evil Dead-style horror who don't mind the micro budget.

A group of teenagers (don't all horror movie plots start like that?) go down to a girl's uncle's lakeside house for the weekend to help clear out an old storage shed. The uncle tells the kids some old Indian folklore about the Trail of Tears, and shows them some rocks that a recent flood has just washed up. The rocks have strange markings on them, and they supposedly contain demonic spirits that can possess the living only if a descendent of the Cherokee elder comes onto the land. Since none of them are Cherokee, they have nothing to worry about, right?

Yeah, uh-huh. Right.

As soon as night falls, they'll each be struggling to survive against their fang-spouting friends who suddenly have an appetite for human flesh. And even though we've seen dozens of flicks like this one before, this one outshines many of its bigger budgeted peers in terms of pure style and fun. You get all the flesh-eating, throat-ripping, screwdriver-stabbing, chainsaw-roaring entertainment you could possibly want -- all in a nice, efficient micro-budget package.

Yes, Savage Harvest even has some effective scares in store. Writer-director Eric Stanze obviously knows his craft, and he gives us some very creative camerawork to boot. Stylish and extremely well-directed, Savage Harvest boasts some cool gore effects as well. The effects are even more impressive considering the shoestring budget. Even the soundtrack, with songs by St. Louis pop-folk-rock band Hotel Faux Pas, is great.

I only wish the characters had been more than cardboard cutouts. If this had been made on a bigger budget with better developed characters (and perhaps a more experienced cast), this one could have been even better. Maybe I'm nit-picking here, since I really did enjoy this movie. And, boy, that Eric Stanze has a lot of talent -- I'll be keeping an eye on this guy, and now I'm all hyped-up to see his 1999 release Ice from the Sun. If you loved the Evil Dead movies, I think you just might like Savage Harvest. But, sorry, there's no badass one-liner spouting character named Ash in this one.

Review published 05.26.2000.

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