Fresh Blood from the Heartland
A 1998 horror fantasy, shot in Missouri by writer/director/editor Eric Stanze.
Allison (Ramona Midgett) commits suicide, but instead of escaping whatever her problems are (apparently the inability to eat her breakfast), she finds herself standing naked in some sort of limbo. Here, a Voice fills her in on mucho backstory, telling a tale of a sorcerer named Araham (DJ Vivona) inhabiting and controlling a dimension of his own making – surrounded by ice from the sun, enemy of angels and devils, spending time torturing abducted souls in contests he can’t lose.
A confused Allison is sent back on a mission to assassinate evil Abraham. Meanwhile, six abducted rooming house tenants face the wizard’s challenges, based on their own fears. Many of the contests have gruesome consequences, courtesy of make-up by Tony Bridges and Jeff Bergeron.
Director of photography David Berliner earns kudos for making a super-8 production look a lot more impressive, using a wide variety of looks within every scene (including the ground-breaking shovel-cam). The end result looks like a Clive Barker movie shot as speed metal video. All its edgy shock value leads to theatrical debate, but this is one of those genre films from the independent underground that continues a trend toward surprising depth of ambition. I hope this is a permanent step up for Stanze and his crew.
Ice from the Sun is packaged with a second tape – On Thin Ice, a behind-the-scenes documentary of the film’s production, which reveals Stanze as a mild-mannered and intelligent man, and his crew as fresh and free of Hollywood pretensions.