Deadwood Park (2007) – By Joshua Samford

 As I continue to make my way through the filmography of Eric Stanze pictures, I’m growing to appreciate his work more and more as well as that of the whole Wicked Pixel cast of characters. Deadwood Park is Stanze’s most recent feature film and likely his most accomplished. Truly every time he helms a project he attempts something completely different than his previous work. Whether it is the depraved gore horror of I Spit On Your Corpse, I Piss on Your Grave or the acid trip on celluloid that is Ice From the Sun. Stanze has kept within the confines of the horror genre up until now, but Deadwood Park shows him branching out even further from what some may deem as his exploitation roots by delivering a truly atmospheric and frightening feature about small town politics, the supernatural and an ancient curse. Deadwood Park is Stanze’s most epic project yet, and shows off his talent in much flashier terms than I have seen from him so far. Even though the film is shot on digital, Stanze keeps his film looking visually magnificent. The sets and locations within the film are always stunning and Stanze keeps a very professional atmosphere in what one assumes is a low budget affair. However, there is a massive WWII sequence that will have you thinking otherwise. Stanze is a figurehead in the Indie film community for horror fans, and I was highly impressed with his step-up in production value and focus on character motivation and plot development with Deadwood Park. It is an atmospheric, and to be honest… often times scary, stab at the supernatural horror subgenre.

Deadwood Park focuses on a man’s return to his hometown from his childhood, and his dealing with not only the death of his brother from that time period – but the fact that his brother was merely the last victim of a massive child killing spree that took place over many years. Not only that, but the murderer has never been discovered or punished. Not knowing exactly why he has made his way to his hometown, he takes refuge at his parents home and intends to fix it up. At the local hardware store he meets a young woman who assumes (like most) that he is in town to investigate the murders, and since she can find noone to talk even to her about the murders; she wants to help him. Thus, the seed is planted and our two heroes set out to find as much information as they can about this horrifying past. As they investigate though, our hero begins to have walking nightmares of children haunting his home. They appear everywhere – and they want him to discover their murderer.

Within the commentary on the DVD (By the way, Stanze’s commentaries are pretty interesting, like I mentioned before the guy has a radio voice – and he’s also pretty informative) Stanze said that Mario Bava’s "Mask of Satan" was a big influence on him during the making of the film – and I think it definitely shows. Both films have very deliberate pacing and both go for more atmospheric scares than the "jump out and get you" variety – although both have their own fair share of those as well. The amazing attention to detail with the visual direction of the film, the use of shadow within every frame and the unnerving music and the slower pace keep the audience anticipating their scares, and for me it worked quite well. I definitely feel Deadwood Park succeeded in the tension and scares department, and for a horror film such as this that is the highest compliment you can really give. Deadwood Park has its fair share of problems however, some of the performances at times can be a bit dry and that slow pace can ware the audience thin at times I think. If anything, a few of the scenes with our lead character investigating his now haunted home could have been taken down a hair – but I am of the opinion that the film is what it is, and I think in the end it makes the pace work for its behalf. I highly recommend the film as well as all of Wicked Pixel’s work and hope others will check out their awesome features. You can read more at Wicked Pixel.com – do check them out guys!