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Ice From the Sun - Sub Rosa Studios Print E-mail
User Rating: / 7
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Written by William Weird   
Friday, 11 January 2008

"Ice From the Sun" DVD -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

Directed by: Eric Stanze
Written by: Eric Stanze
Produced by: Jeremy Wallace
Editing by: Eric Stanze
Cast: D.J. Vivona, Ramona Midgett, Angela Zimmerly, Todd Tevlin, Jason Christ, Tommy Biondo
Year: 1999
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color/B&W
Runtime: 116 Minutes


Video: NTSC Region 1
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Studio: Sub Rosa Studios
Official Website: Wicked Pixel Cinema

http://severed-cinema.com/images/horizon.jpg
We've all seen 'em a dozen times before.  The pretentious pet projects of artier-than-thou film students who seem to think that distorted images, reversed colors, bizarre angles, convoluted concepts, and more quick cuts than any epileptic could dare handle is what constitutes art.  It rarely works.  It rarely succeeds at creating anything more than a pompous, emotionless, empty pantomime, a farce full of itself that tries to convince audiences that it's just too abstruse for them to understand it's awesome depth and beauty.  “Ice From The Sun” is no such farce.  Eric Stanze, the filmmaker who brought us the masterful “Scrapbook”, loads this sucker up with enough artsy-fartsy experimental cinema/film school student diddling to kill a small horse, including the requisite damaged film frames, disjointed pace changes, and (of course) ADHD-inspired editing.  But he applies these techniques well.  In fact, the directorial noodling actually enhances “Ice From The Sun” instead of detracting from it.  It creates a nightmarish atmosphere complimentary to the movie's metaphysical themes, expertly painting a picture of dissolving, amorphous, abstract reality that makes you feel like you're walking through a bad dream and the ground could open up and swallow you whole at any moment.

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

Ice From The Sun” is a fractured fairy tale of visceral, religious, surreal horror.  It tells the story of a wizard and his apprentice who leave this dimension and create their own world, one where they can rule with infinite power and sadism.  Soon the apprentice begins to surpass the power of his master and, in a misunderstanding, he is imprisoned.  It's not long before the apprentice comes roaring back though, killing off the wizard as well as his own replacement, and thus becoming the supreme presence in the dimension he now rules in solitude.  However, this all has not gone unnoticed by the angels in Heaven nor the devils in Hell.  Both want the “Presence” (as the apprentice becomes known) and his self-contained reality out of the picture, so they recruit a suicidal mortal woman to enter the Presence's domain and assassinate him.  At the same time she is entering however, so too are a handful of other mortals, selected by the Presence himself for the purpose of being sportfully hunted down, psychologically tortured, and finally slaughtered for his amusement.  It's all very whimsical... in a dark, macabre, and grotesque sort of way.  Think of “Ice From The Sun” as the unholy love child of J.R.R. Tolkein, Clive Barker, and David Lynch.

Despite the picture's flaws (which include some dubious acting, writing that leaves a bit to be desired from time to time, a handful of glaring plot holes, an abrupt and extremely flat ending, and a seemingly Dracula-inspired "twist" involving lost love and reincarnation that you can see coming from a mile away), “Ice From The Sun” is a highly entertaining movie.  The main problems with the film are the acting (which runs from bad to mediocre) and the mildly distracting low production values, but these are two problems that fans of independent and underground genre film are used to, so they're easy to look past.  When you do look past them you will find a story that is interesting and entrenching.  The film has a very simple but effective format.  While the first ten minutes or so are confusing as all hell and leave a bad taste in your mouth, fear not for that bad taste will soon be washed away.  After that, we are introduced to our heroine, our victims-to-be, and the history of the Presence.  Once things get rolling, it all gets very neat and orderly, despite the pandemonium that Eric Stanze's chaotic, abstract directing and editing implies.  We watch as each victim finds him or herself in the Presence's homemade reality, subject to mucho cruel torments followed eventually by their own ghastly deaths.  The torture methods aren't your average stalk-and-slash kind though, nor are they simply carnal.  Sure, there's blood, gore, and sharp objects aplenty to be found, but the real tortures come in more complex, intelligent flavors.  The Presence is a truly sick, sadistic, downright evil, vile individual who exploits his victims’ deepest, most emotional, and profound fears and makes them come alive in stark, terrifying, malevolent brutality.  While not all of these torture-and-murder sequences are 100% gold, all of them communicate a sense of buried, believable, sincere, personal dread.

http://www.severed-cinema.com/images/ijkl/icefromthesun/ice_from_the_sun-006-l.jpg

Perhaps the most effective and memorable of these sequences is the one in which one of the female victims is stripped nude, tied by the foot to the bumper of a pickup truck, and dragged down a long, rough, stone-covered road at high speeds until she is thoroughly torn up and bloodied.  Now anyone who knows me knows that I'm not one of those people who believes in the "it's more brutal if you don't show it" philosophy.  I like my violence violent and I like my gore graphic and extreme.  But occasionally a scene with that "no show" philosophy is done so well that it's actual lack of graphic depiction is something I find absolutely brilliant and morbidly beautiful.  This is one of those rare occurrences.  This is one of those scenes.  It's easily the most horrendous moment of violence in “Ice From The Sun”, yet it is almost bloodless.  Never once are we shown the actual image of the girl's body being dragged or her flesh being ripped ragged.  All we ever see is the driver of the pickup, casually riding along listening to mariachi music on the radio as if he were just driving nonchalantly to the supermarket for a carton of milk, while the girl's shrill, cringe-inducing screams pierce through the otherwise placid calm.  It's harrowing.  Occasionally, we are shown a close-up of the girl's foot where it is wrapped in rope and tied to the truck's bumper, and each time we are shown this close-up the foot is progressively bloodier.  The whole scene is very intense and extremely moving.  I defy you not to become mesmerized by this scene the first time you see it.  After the victim is well tenderized, the driver stops the truck, gets out, and proceeds to dump a huge sack of salt all over the girl's nude, mangled form.  It's chilling, revolting, and leaves an indelible impression.

Of course, our heroine keeps popping up from time to time during these individual torture-and-murder nightmare sequences, just to remind us that, yes, there is a plot behind all of this and, yes, we'll get back to it eventually, so just hold your horses and enjoy the terror and suffering of our innocent, albeit one-dimensional, young victims-to-be.  Once all the extraneous characters are killed off, it's back to our heroine's quest as she finally faces off against the Presence in an encounter that is, sadly, endlessly anticlimactic and wholly disappointing.  There are some potent flickers of flair and flavor, but for the most part the film's finale just kind of tailspins into a lot of derivative idealism (so saccharine it makes your teeth hurt), bland, boring dialogue, and a hackneyed, cliché explosion that feels too cheesy for comfort.  Then, of course, there's the very end, the part right before the credits roll.  That part is just... weak.  Truth be told, “Ice From The Sun”, doesn't really end.  It just sort of... stops.  Perhaps it doesn't sound like there's any difference between ending a story and just stopping it but, trust me, there is.  I suppose the ending was intended to be open-ended and interpretive, but the cardboard acting and the hurried pace of these final moments makes any such point become lost in the shuffle.  If an ambiguous final moment is what Stanze was going for, then it certainly got miscommunicated.  The end just doesn't work.  It feels more than anything like Stanze didn't really know quite how to end the story he was telling and so just kind of slacked off near Ice's climax, slapping the end credits onto whatever he'd had filmed thus far.  While, overall,“Ice From The Sun” is a fantastic picture, the end is really the weakest part.  The beginning isn't entirely smooth either but once the story gets running you're able to look back and retrospectively appreciate it.  All in all, it isn't until the film really gets going that it achieves it's best, and once it achieves that it begins to drift downhill until it hits the bottom with it's lackluster finale.

While the narrative flaws are often glaring, where “Ice From The Sun” earns its salt is in its visuals. Stanze's direction is exceptional, making expert use of colors and contrast.  His camera work in many ways resembles that of Sam Raimi.  It is very fast-moving and in-your-face at all times.  Take that and crossbreed it with the eerie weirdness of David Lynch and you're halfway there.  The other half is all Stanze and nobody else.  No one else could make an Eric Stanze film.  No one else could've made “Scrapbook”, at least not the way it deserved to be made.  And no one else could've done “Ice From The Sun” justice the way Stanze has.  He has a distinct talent for creating compelling yet repugnant imagery.  We are driven by his unique flair for symbolism to watch again and again.  Looking for the secret meanings left hidden between the lines.  Analyzing the bizarre encounters we are privy to and trying to undercover what they represent.  He knows where to draw our attention for maximum effect and he knows what to keep hidden from us in order for our imaginations to do his job for him.  With “Ice”, Stanze has crafted a well-shaped, deeply-thoughtful, non-linear journey into the fantastical darkness of human fear.

I love abstract, experimental, surreal cinema when it's done well.  Sadly, it's not done well very often.  “Ice From The Sun” does it mostly well.  It's not perfect, but it's pretty damn good.  It does it well enough that I'm proud to own it and am able to rewatch it whenever I want to and enjoy it every time.  It also does it well enough that I'd recommend that any fans of good, brutal, dark horror stories, brooding, creepy, pitch black fantasies, or disjointed, convoluted, artsy weirdness ought to give “Ice From The Sun” a chance and check it out, at least once.  Really, the worst of this film isn't that bad.  It has it's smears of luckluster and it's specks of flat-out godawful, but the high quality of the overall movie itself (which is generally fantastic) buffs those dings and dents almost right out of sight.

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:

- Behind-the-scenes stills gallery
- Two preview trailers
- Two additional audio tracks featuring filmmakers' commentary

The copy of “Ice From The Sun” yours truly reviewed comes as an almost bare bones DVD set-up that includes adequate but uninteresting artwork and standard special features.  A couple trailers, etc.  Nothing to write home to mum about, although there are two audio commentaries which are both good but not great.  They run hot and cold at different times, occasionally deeply insightful and occasionally boring and bland.  However, there is another 2-disc set on the market from Image Entertainment that is supposedly loaded with goodies, so check that version out if you can.  Otherwise, nothing really to see here aside from the feature itself.

RATING:
VIDEO: 1.33:1 1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed Cinema
AUDIO: Dolby Digital Stereo 1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed Cinema
DVD: Sub Rosa Studios 1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed Cinema
MOVIE: "Ice From the Sun" 1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed Cinema1 Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed CinemaNo Skull - Severed Cinema

 

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

 "Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

"Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

 "Ice From the Sun" Screenshot -- Click here to enlarge -- Severed Cinema

 

Comments
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C.R.PUSHPAN   |41.211.228.xxx |2009-12-14 14:11:15
what a world
C.R.PUSHPAN   |41.211.228.xxx |2009-12-14 14:12:33
fantastic world
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Last Updated ( Friday, 11 January 2008 )
 
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