• Ice From The Sun (Image Entertainment/Wicked Pixel Cinema) DVD Review



    Released by: Image Entertainment/Wicked Pixel Cinema
    Released on: September 27th, 2005.
    Director: Eric Stanze
    Cast: DJ Vivona, Ramona Midgett, Angela Zimmerly, Todd Tevlin, Jason Christ, Tommy Biondo, Joseph Palermo, Tracey Hein
    Year: 1999
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    Ice From The Sun - Movie Review:

    In 1994 Eric Stanze finished up his debut feature, Savage Harvest, - a gory little Evil Dead inspired horror movie that proved to be a fun ride but that isn’t going to win a lot of points for originality. Five years later, he’d go in the exact opposite direction with the release of his second movie, Ice From The Sun, a trippy little movie chock full of good things like nudity and gore but which has a pretty interesting (if at times slightly difficult) storyline to it underneath the seemingly nasty exterior.

    The rather abstract storyline goes a lil’ something like this – in an alternate universe (which exists encased in ice that was chipped off of the surface of the sun), a wizard’s apprentice known only as The Presence (DJ Vivona of I Spit On Your Corpse, I Piss On Your Grave) turns to evil in a big way. He’s so evil, in fact, that even Hell is kind of wigged out by this and so they call a truce with Heaven in hopes of getting this guy sorted out before he ruins it for everyone. The Presence’s powers have grown at an alarmingly fast rate and by the time we’re really introduced to him, he’s become one of the most powerful entities in the universe. With me so far? Good. A well-to-do entity known as The Vision (Jessica Wyman) deduces that if she’s to bring back a woman named Alison (Ramona Midgett) from the dead (she recently killed herself) she might be able to stop The Presence – Alison is down with this as, as all good Catholics know, those who commit suicide spend eternity in Hell.

    Alison is whisked off to the universe in which The Presence resides and at or around the same time this is going on, six other humans experience the same phenomena. The Presence isn’t too happy about this, however, especially as certain aspects of the chosen six strike a serious nerve with the evil entity – aspects of them remind him of they way he used to be. The Presence figures the best way to carry out his evil plan is to lay waste to the chosen six… and why not take down Allison why he’s at it in case she decides to get in his way?

    Reading the plot description kind of makes it sound a bit like some whacked out Dungeons and Dragons dork-fest but it’s anything but. Stanze’s film is part surrealist art project and part flat out horror film – it’s a mix of the weird and the strange, a blend of the obscure and the obtuse. The story definitely makes sense if you pay attention to it and if you’ve got a decent attention span you won’t have any problems there as once it hits the fifteen or twenty minute mark the pacing really cranks up. Some of the imagery might be a little more than some people are used to – the violence is pretty explicit and it sometimes borders on the tasteless (and I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way) – but the end result is a truly unique film that sticks in your brain long after you’re done with it.

    As far as the production values are concerned, well, make no mistake – this movie was shot for very little money and as such, there are some of the usual flaws associated with low budget filmmaking in here if you want to concern yourself with them. While most of the performances are very solid, one or two moments do flirt with awkwardness. Thankfully there aren’t enough ‘ouch’ moments to hurt the movie much but they are in here as they are in every other low budget movie. Most of the effects work comes across really well on camera, but again, there are one or two short bits where what you’re seeing falls out of what most of us would deem as realistic effects work.

    That being said, Ice From The Sun is an extremely ambitious project for what it is. The opening credits sequence is over four-minutes long and is incredibly well edited. Some of the costume and effects work really does capture your attention (the strange eyeball guy is a perfect example...you'll know what I'm talking about when you see it). Watch this one for its exploitative elements - the nudity and gore, and stay for the story and the atmosphere and everything else.

    Ice From The Sun - DVD Review:

    Considering the low budget origins of this Super 8 production, Wicked Pixel has done a pretty good job bringing it to DVD. Improved over the previous single disc release that they put out on their own through Sub Rosa, the colors are stronger here and there’s considerably more detail present in the background of the image. There aren’t any problems at all with mpeg compression artifacts and only some mild line shimmering is present in a few spots. For the most part, Ice From The Sun looks really good here.

    The only audio track for the film comes in the form of an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. Some distinct channel separation will surprise you in a few spots and the mix does a nice job of handling both the dialogue and the background effects. The score is mixed in properly and well balanced. It doesn’t drown anything out and there’s just enough power in the low end that you know it’s working properly. There’s not much to complain about here in terms of audio representation – the movie sounds very solid, and again, things are slightly better in this department than on the last release.

    Image/Wicked Pixel have, in order to maximize the available bit rate, wisely opted to spread the supplements for this release across two DVDs. Here's what you get and where you'll get it:

    DISC ONE:

    The supplements on this release are relegated to a pair of commentary tracks. The first track is with Jeremy Wallace and actors Jason Christ and Ramona Midgett. This is a fairly lively track as Christ covers his involvement as a performer on the film and some of the oddities that were required of him in his role. Ramona more or less follows the same path, talking about what was required of her during the filming, what it was like taking direction from Stanze, and how she feels about certain aspects of the film. Wallace throws in a lot of anecdotes and generally just adds some sex appeal to the talk. This winds up being a pretty interesting talk about the movie, and there is definitely some good information in here.

    Commentary track number two features director Eric Stanze and actor DJ Vivona. Stanze talks about how he got ideas out of his head and out of the performers' heads and put them on film and the challenges that this posed. He covers some of the technical details, how one little thing can throw off a shoot for a day or even longer, and how it was shooting on some of the sets used in the film. Stanze dominates the track, but Vivona gets a few words in edge wise, talking about how he saved the shoot from a problem they encountered when he arranged for an important scene to be shot inside a theater that he was connected to.

    DISC TWO:

    The second disc starts off with Todd Tevlin and Jason Christ’s feature length look at the origins of the film, On Thin Ice: The Making Of Ice From The Sun. At ninety-minutes in length, this one covers pretty much everything that you’d ever want to know about the making of the movie. Tevlin and Christ went to the efforts of interviewing pretty much everyone involved with the production, from writer/director Eric Stanze to pretty much all of the performers including DJ Vivona and Tommy Biondo, and even Wicked Pixel producer Jeremy ‘sexy pants’ Wallace. There’s a whole lot of behind the scenes footage in here in addition to the interviews, as well as some really interesting ‘how they did it’ effects footage. While a ninety-minute ‘making of’ might sound like it’d get really old really fast, this one is well put together and extremely comprehensive and ultimately proves to be a pretty interesting film in its own right.

    If that weren’t enough behind the scenes action for you, Todd Tevlin and Jason Christ appear on a commentary track for On Thin Ice, in which they not only cover their involvement in the feature but also in the documentary. While there’s definitely some crossover here between what’s on the commentary track and what’s on the feature, there’s also a lot of fun, anecdotal material in here as well which makes it an interesting track to listen to.

    The Music Score Featurette is basically a minute-and-a-half or so of raw footage of the musicians who made the music for the movie in action. It's not particularly in depth, but it's interesting to see the creative process behind it actually happening.

    The Auditions Footage segment is exactly what it sounds like - roughly four-and-a-half minutes of raw, unedited audition footage. In here we see four different actors try out for four different parts. I always enjoy footage like this, as I tend to put myself in the position of casting director and critique everyone who appears, but I'm strange like that.

    Rounding out the supplements are three music videos, some facts about the movie in text format, trailers for Ice From The Sun (three different ones!), Savage Harvest, Scrapbook, China White Serpentine and Deadwood Park, as well as a pretty massive still gallery or promotional artwork and production photos.

    Ice From The Sun - The Final Word:

    Rarely has such an off the wall and ‘out there’ independent film been so well represented on DVD. Ice From The Sun looks good, Ice From The Sun sounds good, and the extra features are literally a crash course in how the movie was made from start to finish. This is a very nice set not only for fans of Stanze’s work but for anyone into underground films, period.








































    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      This review could use a wee bit of copy editing.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Done. Unfortunately shit happens when you update daily and work a day job, but the typos have been corrected.