Eric Stanze & Sub Rosa Extreme  



A frustrating underground film maker who screams potential but doesn't seem to ever put together the right environment, budget and team to fulfill this potential. He works with zero-budgets but manages to get a lot out of nothing by using creative camera techniques, a slew of interesting editing tricks, loud and extensive use of atmospheric sounds, and jarring music. His subject matter is dark and extreme and he has the balls to see it implemented properly without compromising, but his biggest weakness is the complete lack of character in his actors who always feel like they're trying too hard to act. With help in the writing, budget, and acting departments and more maturity, his talents may be allowed to reign. His Sub Rosa project allows his team-mates to make movies of a similar ilk and he is usually included in their films as an editor or producer.

Of Some Interest

Ice From The Sun  
In an alternate reality lives a wizard and his apprentice who lure humans into their world to entertain themselves and gain power by killing them in sadistic ways. A girl who commits suicide is sent into this world to seduce the evil Presence so that its hold on the world will be weakened enough to destroy it. Stanze pulls out all the camera and editing tricks for this nightmarishly bizarre sophomore effort that is extremely frustrating due to its unrealized potential. Scenes range from surrealistic genius to ploddingly dull, with gritty gore and sadism, and a style which is a blend of rawer Hellraiser and Nine Inch Nails. With much better actors, and at least a 30-minute cut of all the excruciating exposition and dialog, this could have been a surrealistic dark masterpiece of underground cinema.

Savage Harvest  
A zero-budget debut which is basically a variation on the Evil Dead film with native American dark magic as the cause of contagious demonic possession with a disposition for blood and guts. A group of teenagers get trapped in a camp (sound familiar?) and battle it out with evil. Gory chunks include skull crushing, torso ripping and neck shredding. Gritty underground horror with flashes of talent, but fatally flawed due to extremely dull acting.

Scrapbook  
Another under-developed but ambitious work from Stanze. The goal was to create a claustrophobic and brutal film about a weak, disturbed loser who has been kidnapping, raping, humiliating, torturing and killing women for years and who now has a new victim locked up in his house. He collects his exploits in a srapbook which he thinks will make him famous and popular. At first she is pummeled slowly into submission, then slowly the tables turn. The writing, acting and direction, although good at times, are obviously rushed and under-produced, and given this intense subject matter, nothing short of the best would achieve the proper effect. Not convincing enough.

Severed Head Network, The    
A compilation of shorts and music videos, most of them involving Stanze or his friends. The shorts vary in quality and style, from a gritty anti-Christian rant involving slaughterhouse gore and the myth of Unicorns, to soft-porn sex where an abused girl expresses her psychosis with her lover, to an amusing hallucinogenic romp involving a senile old man who imagines lots of violent deeds while going shopping, to a musical involving people in animal costumes and splatter, etc. Mostly misses, and there are no masterpieces, but some are moderately interesting, and the fun is in tasting one underground jab after another.

Worthless

Buzz Saw  
What a mess. This feels like it's written by the mind of a drug-addict in advanced stages of deterioration. Two maintenance men have to deal with their alcohol and drug addictions, diabetes, demands by their strange tenants, and their mysterious murders by flying power tools. There's some blood splatter and horror dismemberment by power tools, there's some boring endless fighting between a group of drug addicts, random light comedy, and a weird alien sub-plot involving children up in a tree-house that study the post-murder scenery and take notes. The mood changes often, the writing jumps from one scene to another with no sense of consequences, relevance or continuity, strange characters are built but not developed, and nothing makes sense in the end.

China White Serpentine  
Some kind of evil woman somehow seduces men and women, making them into dope dealers and amateur porn actors until they spiral to a violent doom. A brother of one of the victims receives a mysterious DVD which brings evil sounds and power into his house while his x-girlfriend sees gory visions of death. Unfortunately, while Stanze pulled out his editing bag of tricks to spice up this obviously low-budget movie, the story and character development is thoroughly unconvincing. Contains very little gore but a lot of nudity and sex.

Christmas Season Massacre  
A spoof on slasher movies filmed for fun with a shoe-string budget. All typical slasher characters become caricatures, the events are all exaggerated and the not-so-teenagers are up to some really goofy antics like having sex with a watermelon on their head and being crept on quietly by the killer with a running chainsaw. The handful of splatter scenes are over-the-top. Mostly silly in a bad way but worth a couple of chuckles if you're bored.

Insaniac  
A girl with amnesia is hypnotized into exploring her past trauma. Her story of violent drug dealings gone bad is revealed using a mosaic of flashbacks mixed with surrealistic visions as we wander inside her head. There is almost no gore but the scenes are a crude attempt at bizarre Lynch storytelling. Weak writing and cinematography, artificial dialog and acting.

I Spit On Your Corpse, I Piss On Your Grave  
A psycho, who is angry at several people for silly reasons, escapes from jail, kidnaps all four of them (one of them his ex-girlfriend), and sets out to take revenge. When his girlfriend crowbars him to death however, it turns out she is a psychotic disturbed bitch with a gun who has scores to settle with the other three as well. So she proceeds to force them to eat their own feces, burn them with cigarettes, and sodomize them with a broom before killing them. Dull acting, lots of dull padding consisting of images of Jesus and graveyards, and gratuitously sick.

Savage Harvest 2: October Blood  
Featuring a different director and a completely different approach, this sequel takes its horror seriously by attempting to build its many characters, atmosphere, and supernatural background before diving into the gore. For over an hour, the movie explores the intersecting lives of a director who lost an actor on set and his various friends and acquaintances, including relatives of survivors from the previous massacre. The movie piles it on, with raised tensions, supernatural research and skepticism, hidden agendas, old-friends with complicated pasts, a mysterious tape from the survivor who committed suicide, and more, all slow-moving and boringly mediocre. Then the dead come back to rip them all apart with uncreative splatter, including decapitation, dismemberment and a chainsaw to the groin. Uninspired and flat, with no sense of pacing and buildup.

Undertow, The  
You've heard it before...six dumb teenagers camp in the backwoods where inbreeding and fundamentalism are par for the course and a twisted relative or two have a taste for sadistic games and ruthless butchering. In homage to 70s backwoods killer flicks, this low-budget splatter version of Deliverance delivers with a gritty, gory take on the genre, but fails miserably with its detached acting and amateurish directing.




2000- by Zev Toledano Table of Contents