Savage Harvest (1994) – By Joshua Samford

 The fine folks over at Wicked Pixel sent me a box full of goodies last month, with six DVDs for little old me to start tackling for Rogue Cinema. As I discussed in my review for Scrapbook, Eric Stanze has become a horror cult celebrity for his role as producer/director in several underground indie horrors and Savage Harvest is one of them. His first full length feature, Savage Harvest is definitely not his most polished work. Listening to Stanze on the DVD’s commentary, he is almost embarrassed of this earlier film. I however must say I enjoyed it to a well degree. Although, I can’t say I recommend the film unless you are a big fan of 80’s horror. Films like The Burning, Sleepaway Camp and the original Evil Dead are all films not too far away from the atmosphere of Stanze’s debut feature. All films take place in or around wooded areas, but there’s a classic indie "we can scare your pants off! With blood and guts of course…" atmosphere that is trapped within the film and it shows through in every frame. The actors are sometimes wooden (although, could anything be worse than the kids in Sleepaway Camp?) and there’s a scene of exposition where the whole story of the indian stone field is fleshed out, and seems to go on forever – but it is all there in fun. Like your friends sitting around a campfire telling scary stories as a kid. Occasionally some of you are pretty good at telling the stories, but mostly you’re just trying to one-up each other for the sake of entertainment. Savage Harvest brings back for me those classic slashers and monster riddled films of a forgotten time; and I have to say I had a lot of fun.

The basic plot of Savage Harvest is fairly simple, however the back story behind the curse inflicted upon our heroes isn’t quite as easy to rehash. Essentially our heroine has dragged her friends along with her to camp out by the lake at her uncle’s cabin, as he is in need of some help loading out some old furniture – but, while attempting to tell an interesting story to the young ones, the uncle accidentally unleashes an ancient native curse. The simple version of the story: an Indian medicine man and leader gave his people the silly idea to trust the white man on a few issues and wouldn’t you know it, it kind of bit him in the rear as they were all enslaved on the trail of tears which was a massive genocidal project where many natives were wiped out. However, skip to the chase, the medicine man was killed in an act of vengeance and the remaining natives were cursed by him with a deadly plague or granite. All the crops within the village were replaced with mountains of rocks, all of which wore a symbol of a demon that will enslave any person who touches one of these rocks. However, the only way for the curse of possession to be re-ignited is for the blood of a descendant of the tribe to be within a certain distance of the rocks – and guess what, someone in the surrounding area seems to have sent off the Indian blood alert! With no knowledge of who’s blood it is that has brought this horrible reality about, our heroes must fight off the devil spawn and survive the night while all hell is unleashed. Pretty exciting stuff eh?

Savage Harvest is a b-movie, it ain’t high brow, it ain’t terrifying – but it is fun. In a campy way that some of us out there do enjoy. If you’re a fan of Stanze of low budget 80’s horror where people do silly things, plots are sometimes murky but overall lots of blood is spilled and everybody cracks a smile – I have to say I recommend it. Hey, I know I liked it. Now it’s time to crack open the DVD for Savage Harvest II, and time for you all to keep reading!