Savage Harvest 2: October Blood (2006) – By Joshua Samford

 The original Savage Harvest definitely had its fair share of great things, as well as some not so great things. On the positive side it had a detailed back story, a great classic horror feel that pushed the film along at a quick pace and it was an overall fun experience. With the negative side, the delivery of the exposition was a bit heavy and it essentially carried a decent amount of genre baggage that flicks like Sleepaway Camp or many other 80’s horrors seemed to have. However, when watching the original (and knowing that it had become a series) part of me truly wondered if a sequel was a neccesary thing. With as much fun as it was and with that retro feel -it’s easily understandable to continue the series. The mythos is certainly rich enough to carry over into other films and I think Jason Christ recognized this. A quick cash-in on what success the original Savage Harvest may have found would never work, and trying to duplicate that drive-in feel can sometimes be more than a little difficult. However, it was a nice surprise that Jason Christ took the film in a far different direction than what the original served as. Savage Harvest II is a much more mature and engrossing film. Essentially, excelling in all the weaker areas that the first film fell into, Savage Harvest 2 is a sequel that delivers.

Creating a horror film in this day and age can be a lot like an assembly line type process. As of the moment the torture genre has taken over the system but for a while there (and it will be back no worries) the slasher picture ruled supreme; and these flicks when made poorly all seem to resemble one another. Throw in some blood here, a cheesy love arc there and a few cheap scares while ensuring that by the end of the film the only survivor is the one female lead we’ve been following – and you’ve got yourself a Scream knockoff and/or any other slasher made in the last couple of decades. Savage 2 however doesn’t feel as stagnate. It isn’t exactly a fresh process, but maybe just a better one. For a low budget affair or not, having a horror film that deals so much attention to character and plot development is a refreshing thin. The two films that immediately come to mind that split it’s running time so evenly in terms of gore/horror and intense character development are Jaws and a Japanese horror called Kickhiku: Dai Enkai, and personally I think all three films are great in their own distinct and totally different ways.

Savage Harvest 2 continues the tale of a demonic curse from an ancient Native American tribe, however this time around we follow Ashley, sister of the lone survivor of the original massacre. After she comes back home she rekindle a friendship with an old flame in Tyge, who has come home for his own reasons but both share shadowy pasts that they want to keep buried but when Zack and Deke enter the situation things change. Zack is the nephew of the parental figures from the first film, and ever since that situation has had a hard time dealing with how his aunt and uncle came to meet their demise. Having studied the native myths with his uncle, and having claimed his property – Zack feels he knows precisely what happened in those woods on that night some decade before. However, the last pieces of the puzzle he feels are with Ashley’s family house – where Ashley’s sister spent her last days before committing suicide. What will they find, and who will survive?

Savage Harvest II: October Blood was a surprise, a fun, inventive and character driven horror that few seem willing to tackle these days. There’s still plenty of violence in the latter half of the film, but overall I think the film delivers on more levels than simple blood and camp. The performances for the most part are great. Emily Haack turns in one of my favorite performances I have seen from her, showing a warmth and depth with her character that gives the film life. Benjamin Gaa and Eric Stanze are both equally deserving of praise for their performances as well. Gaa for the most part holds the film on his shoulders and is subtle with his delivery but shows strength and sanity when everyone around him seems to be going insane. Stanze really impressed me with his performance, because really, directors usually don’t make the best actors. I mean really, Tarrantino (granted he’s getting better) or Kevin Smith anyone? However Stanze is great in this supporting role and really impressed me with his wry performance. Maybe it’s just that deep voice of his, the guy could do radio.

There are some problems within SH2, it isn’t a perfect film by any means. It is a more deliberately paced film – coming in at nearly two hours in length; you have to come into it with some patience beforehand. Also, even though I do praise some performances, this is an independent film and some of the actors have likely never appeared on film and if they have may not be the most experienced. However, if you know independent film then there’s no reason not to enjoy this film. I definitely recommend it and hope everyone gets a chance to check it out! You can read more about it and order it at http://www.wickedpixel.com.