Ice from the Sun (1999) – By Joshua Samford

 This film was actually one of the first films I had heard of from the Wicked Pixel crew, and to this day remains one of their more popular films along with Scrapbook and the Savage Harvest films. Having read so much about the film beforehand (I first read about it years ago, but am only now just seeing it for the first time) I had a decent amount of knowledge going into it beforehand about just what to expect. I had read so much about how the film was essentially unintelligible in the same vein as Eraserhead or films of that ilk – which is fine with me, as I am a big fan of experimentation when done correctly. Ice From the Sun however, well, it isn’t so easily contained. There is an actual narrative within Ice, and even though it is most certainly a strange and chaotic film full of dream logic – it does contain SOME narrative; which is more than I actually expected! Is that a good or bad thing? Well, outside of the first ten or so minutes, the film falls into a certain order and takes on a certain tempo and flow that actually makes sense.

The basic story of the film is a bit complex (seemingly a Stanze trademark, the deep and reaching mythos behind the horrors that burden our heroes) but essentially in an alternate dimension there lives a being called The Presence, which is an all-knowing being that controls this dimension with pain, humiliation and torment. Every so often human beings actually travel inward to this dimension however, and are put in scenarios that test their will to live. Enter Alison however, who has been summoned into this dimension in order to stop the beast that commits these horrors. Having a semblance of sanity amidst this world of horror and dream-like reality, is she strong enough to put an end to the Presence?

Although Ice From the Sun isn’t going to be for all audience members (I can only imagine how our amazing lead editor Duane would react to this one, I’ll just say he isn’t the greatest fan of surreal cinema), I do think it is one of the better films of this type I have seen. In the commentary track on the two disc set, Stanze explains that since it was the first film they had shot on film (Super 8) – he wanted to teeter between a linear narrative and a more surrealist music video-esque style. That way if the film costs started to get too expensive, he could have more of a style based film to work with than something he might be wrapped up in and require re-shoots and such (I imagine at least, he didn’t go on that far) and I think this style ended up working for him a great deal. In the end I enjoyed Ice From the Sun much more than say… Begotten, which was fully committed to a strictly non-linear film. Even though the film has a running time of about two hours, it constantly keeps your attention and not completely without help from the brutal and bloody gore effects which are surprisingly effective for a film shot on this budget. Head explosions, bodies dragged down gravel roads, intestines ripped from stomachs and all sorts of nasty scenes await our unfortunate victims.

Although it isn’t the sort of film you’re going to go out on a limb and recommend for just any film fans – but if you enjoy David Lynch’s work and are in the mood for some great gore and some nicely shot Super 8 indie horror; Ice From the Sun may just be up your alley. I certainly enjoyed it, and for me it is easily understandable how it has gained the cult success it has gone on to accomplish; but definitely be prepared. This isn’t your average fantasy film, and it ain’t your average gory horror – it’s a little bit of everything and requires a patient audience member but for those willing to invest a little time and effort it’s a very intriguing and often times disturbing piece of cinematic experimentation. A great film.