Friday, January 25, 2008

Savage Harvest 2: October Blood (2006)

It’s usually hard to follow up a horror movie, indie or otherwise, with a substantial sequel. Most sequels exist only to exploit the popularity of the first film and to plunder its creativity without coming up with anything original. When there is a change in writer and director (which is usually the case) the problem is further compounded. The heart, soul and essence of the first film are discarded in pursuit of one thing, and one thing only…money.

Luckily, we have smart independent horror sequels like Savage Harvest 2: October Blood to make up for those other soul-sucking sequels. Instead of exploiting the source material, new writer/director Jason Christ reverently stays true to the original while adding his own improvements.

Thirteen years have passed since a group of six friends awakened evil demons on a rural farm. The last remaining survivor, Mikki (Lisa Morrison), committed suicide several years ago. Her younger sister Ashley (Emily Haack), receives an unmarked video of a blood-drenched Mikki that reopens all the old wounds from her sister’s suicide. This video throws Ashley back into a deep depression and she returns to her and Mikki’s hometown to try and heal her wounds. Once there she runs into her old high school sweetheart Tyge (Benjamin Gaa), who’s running from his own personal demons. Tyge is staying with his old friend Zack (Eric Stanze, the writer/director for the first Savage Harvest film), who is enthralled by Native American folklore, especially that based on the native tribes of the area. When Ashley becomes determined to discover why her sister committed suicide and why she made that video tape, the friends head back to the isolated farm where Mikki survived a massacre and unwittingly re-release the very same evil spirits that turned Mikki’s friends into demons!

Savage Harvest 2: October Blood is an impressive sequel, one that works closely with its source material but tweaks things just enough to make them interesting. It also takes the time to improve on the original’s weak spots, including character development. Writing and directing duties have been handed over to Jason Christ, taking over for Eric Stanze who stars in the film. Christ does a fantastic job creating an engaging story, well-developed characters and a foreboding atmosphere.

The pace of the film comes in sharp contrast with its predecessor; while the first wastes no time in getting to the gory action, October Blood wisely takes its time building up the story and characters. Though some might say it takes too long, I believe that in the end it benefits the overall film. The actors do a great job of carrying the first part of the film solely on their performances. Emily Haack as Ashley conveys an emotional depth that is rarely seen in low-budget horror films. I also enjoyed watching Benjamin Gaa as Tyge as he and Ashley’s relationship deepens (and then turns nasty!). The real delight, though, came from Eric Stanze. I never expected him to be as great an actor as he is a writer/director, but he proved me wrong! He was an absolute joy to watch as Zack and brought some quirky and funny moments to the film.

Fans of the fast-paced Savage Harvest might need to be a bit more patient for the bloody pay-off in this film, but their patience will be well rewarded. The special FX are back in October Blood, with the infamous chainsaw making a nice comeback. Gorehounds will be pleased, though they’ll be waiting an hour plus for the bloodbath to begin.

Released in 2006, Savage Harvest 2: October Blood has been a long time coming since the original Savage Harvest was released in 1995. Despite the long wait, fans will be well pleased by the sequel. It may run a little long for most genre fan’s likings at nearly two hours, but those that appreciate well-constructed characters will think it’s worth the wait. Even those who haven’t seen the original Savage Harvest will easily be able to enjoy the film – the first film’s mythology is cleverly laid out at the beginning of October Blood.

Wicked Pixel Films continues to produce quality, independent horror film and Savage Harvest 2: October Blood is no different. Check it out today!

Available from Amazon!

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