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ICE FROM THE SUN

A no-budget grassroots horror epic with great visuals and a less-than-great script.  There’s plenty of gore, to be sure, along with a diverting, music video inspired editing tempo; all well and good, but, like most bad movies, low budget or otherwise, the film’s faults ultimately tend to cancel out its virtues. 

The Package 
     To be sure, I really want to like the Missouri-lensed ICE FORM THE SUN, and can’t deny that it does contain its share of good stuff.  The visuals are extremely accomplished considering the non-budget (see below) and, unlike many of the film’s big studio contemporaries, the premise is a tantalizingly ambitious one.  If ambition were enough to make a film succeed, then this one would be a masterpiece.  Films like this are supposed to reinvigorate the genre, as NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE did back in their day.  There may exist a modern-day TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but ICE FROM THE SUN ain’t it!
     While on the subject of grassroots horror, it’s interesting to note that, while films like KILLER (1989), DARKNESS (1993), JUGULAR WINE (1994) and this one have no tangible connections, they share enough similarities to comprise a sub genre unto themselves: all were shot in super 8mm, all are technically dodgy, contain buckets of gore and much stilted acting (a consequence of the fact that the casts of these films tend to be largely composed of buddies of the respective directors), yet all show promising glimpses of real inspiration.  Unfortunately, glimpses are ultimately all we get.

The Story
     The depressed Alison commits suicide in a bathtub, only to find herself confronted by an indistinct woman claiming to be an angel, who gives an extremely lengthy, ten minute-plus(!) dissertation about how an evil sorcerer known as “The Presence” has scraped ice from the surface of the sun and set up his own alternate universe (or something) into which he lures unsuspecting folks and tortures ‘em in such horrific ways that the overseers of both Heaven and Hell want him stopped.  Alison is offered a reprieve for the sin of taking her own life if she agrees to go after The Presence and put him out of commission (for some reason only a mortal being can do the deed).
     Alison agrees, and finds herself in a weird world where depraved psychos rule...and a number of new victims are in the process of getting acclimated.  This entails such hospitable acts as exploding a dude’s tongue and dragging a naked woman behind a truck on gravel, pouring salt into her wounds and then backing the vehicle over her head several times. 
     The Alison-Presence confrontation is inevitable, but when it finally happens, involving a shouting match and an explosion, it’s...well, pretty disappointing. 

The Direction 
     Director Eric Stanze, who made SAVAGE HARVEST (1994) before this film and SCRAPBOOK (2000) and I SPIT ON YOUR CORPSE/I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2001) after, has an impressive visual flair.  The multi-formatted, rapid-fire visuals are extremely diverting, ensuring that the film is always colorful and interesting to look at (NATURAL BORN KILLERS was an admitted influence).  Far less enchanting is the narrative, which is a jumble throughout, with an insanely complex back-story and an over reliance on voice-over narration.  Apparently, ICE FROM THE SUN was originally conceived as an abstract, non-narrative experiment, which would probably have worked better.  Stanze’s indulgent editing is another liability; the film runs an agonizing 116 minutes, far too long for what frankly feels like a 20-minute short stretched to feature length.
 

Vital Statistics 

ICE FROM THE SUN
Wicked Pixel Cinema 

Director/Screenplay/Editor: Eric Stanze
Producer: Jeremy Wallace
Cinematography: David Berliner
Cast: D.J. Vivona, Ramona Midgett, Angela Zimmerly, Todd Tevlin, Jason Christ, Tommy Biondo, Joseph Palermo, Tracey Hein, Jessica Wyman, Charles Heuvelman, Alexander Crestwood, Tony Bridges, Leslie A. Unterreiner, Michael Bradley, Jeremy Wallace, Rob Cope, Jerry Bates
 


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