Elite Entertainment // 2006 // 116 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 19th, 2007
Deep within the darkness of your past, a new terror is taking shape.
Indie filmmaker Tyge Murdock (Benjamin Gaa) returns to his crappy hometown after a tragic accident claims the life of one of his actors. But there will be no solace for him there. When he encounters his old high school flame Ashley (Emily Haack), he discovers that a lot of bad things have happened since he left. For one, Ashley's sister committed suicide. As the two resuscitate their friendship, creepier events go down, and the death and mayhem may be linked to an old Cherokee curse, as recounted by a strange guy named Zack (Eric Stanze) who dabbles in the Native American mysticism.
So anyway, these people talk to each other more and eventually go to a farm that may hold answers, but all Hell breaks loose and one by one the friends are transformed into raving, flesh-munching killers that can pass their contagion on through some demonic tongue action.
Full disclosure: I haven't seen the first Savage Harvest. Thanks to rundown from one of the extras on this release I determined it was an Evil Dead-like homage and used the same plot gimmick of demons originally summoned by the Cherokee, uncorked and running around possessing people. This is pretty much the thrust for the follow-up, with one big caveat: it's not until a full 70 minutes into the film's almost two-hour runtime that the first demon makes its appearance.
That's a long wait and a lot to ask someone who's just hoping for a satiating dose of low-budget gore. Savage Harvest 2 eventually unloads with that, but the run-up feels interminable. And I have to confess, I'm really not sure why I had to sit through it all. The first hour or so is all exposition, featuring long bouts of chatty exposition, most of it delivered in a ridiculously canned way; what 20-something year old guy casually uses the word "foolishly?" It feels like writer/director Jason Christ is a little too enamored with his mythology, when it's not terribly engaging to begin with. Much time is also devoted to the characters as they reel off this mythology with those overlong dialogues sequences and they're not that interesting either; not much separates Ashley and Tyge and Zack and whoever from, the standard-issue cannon fodder found in other indie horror movies.
The good news is, if you can stick it out and power through the 70-minute long haul, Christ serves up a heaping bounty of blood and guts. The gore and makeup effect work is not much different than similar low-budget films of this caliber, but there's a ton of it. Arterial spurts, sucking chest wounds, a chainsaw to the crotch, amputations, decapitations, impalements, biting and chewing and drooling, and more! Christ is not afraid to get his actors drenched in whatever foul concoction was mixed to produce the bodily fluid and while I had little patience for their forced emoting, I'll hand it to the actors for taking one for the team and getting good and messy.
So to sum: after a tedious slow crawl of uninteresting plot and iffy writing, Savage Harvest 2 shifts gears and turns into a relatively enjoyable splatter picture with plenty of hacking and slashing and spewing to keep the kiddies happy.
Marketed as the collector's edition, this two-disc set is certainly all that and more any fan of the Savage Harvest franchise could have hoped for. The technical presentation is little to flip for (full fame and 2.0 stereo, submitted in the typical homegrown, zero-budget pedigree) but there are plenty of extras.
For starters, the feature film sports three commentary tracks, one by Jason Christ, another by Christ, producer Eric Stanze and effects guy Patrick Voss and the third with actors Emily Haack, Benjamin Gaa, Stanze and David Propst. Each commenter was proud of what they had done with the film and while I may not have went as ga-ga over it as they did, I can appreciate their pride and will take a serious track over some of the other goofy bull-@#$% I've heard from commentaries on similarly budgeted horror DVDs. Disc Two brings the rest of the extras including a nice one-hour documentary, deleted scenes, a too-long outtakes reel, a stills montage, previews and three short films from Jason Christ.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Three Commentary Tracks
* Deleted Scenes
* Stills Montage
* Short Films