While horror spent a majority of the 1990s trying to be different than the 80s, director Eric Stanze threw what little money he had into the makeup and gore of his movie Savage Harvest, a gritty take on 80s classics like Demons and Evil Dead.
If I had been a teenager in the decade during which all this movie had to compete against was shit like Dr. Giggles and Leprechaun, it probably would have scared the shit out of me. To be honest, it is really rough home video looking stuff, the acting is as bad as it gets, and the songs used during montages are horrendous, but if you hang in there, you’ll get to all that matters—the demon insanity!
A bunch of kids goes up to a cabin. One of the kids delivers a painfully boring narrative about an Indian legend—the problem is partially his inability to act, and partially the monotony of the written dialogue. There’s also some unnecessary drama between the characters that’s rendered even more lifeless due to the flat, one-note readings of the actors.
But then…out of nowhere…the first demon attacks! He looks fricking awesome, and all Stanze’s strengths as a director come out. Not to mention, the home video look adds to the creepy atmosphere. And wait until the demon opens its mouth to show off the squirting fang on the end of its tongue!
As shaky as the story is and as bad as the acting continues to be—not to mention there’s another long segment of pace-killing dialogue for more exposition—the segments featuring everyone turning demon and ripping out guts totally rule. And the bland atmosphere created by the inexperience of the actors actually benefits the jump scares, which are effectively jolting and eerie.
But the best sequence in the entire film has to be when an Indian demon arrives on the scene. One chick hides under a car, and all my worst nightmares about demons come to life, because he easily figures out where she is and starts to crawl underneath to get her! Fuck me with a demon tongue fang.
For Savage Harvest 2: October Blood, which came twelve years after the first film, Eric Stanze handed the writing and directing over to Jason Christ…and took a lead role in the film!
Even though the acting is a bit better here, it doesn’t help make the first hour and ten minutes—which is all dialogue and exposition—go any faster. The sister of the main girl from the first movie comes back to her home town after her sister commits suicide…and reconnects with her old boyfriend. Together with some of their friends, they go to where all the shit took place in the first movie in an effort to understand what really happened.
Like I said after an hour and ten minutes (of this full two-hour movie) some random characters are suddenly thrown in to be attacked by a demon. Sadly, the demons don’t look as good in this sequel. They kind of look like someone went to Party City and picked up some makeup, fake blood, and plastic fangs (one demon fricking looks like a bad Wolfman). Bummer. Even the tongue fang makes an initial appearance but is nowhere near as cool as the one in the first film.
Even so, there’s more blood and gore this time around, and loads of infections, creepy demon stalking, and chase scenes. This film’s main girl is a stronger performer, which makes for some good kick ass fighting as she takes a chainsaw to the demons. Sadly, the main baddie with which she must contend doesn’t turn demon at all! WTF?
If only this sequel had been drastically trimmed (by about 30 minutes), gotten to the demon chaos sooner, and matched the demon makeup of the first film, it could have been superior to the first film. But the pros and cons of each film balance out when all is said and done.