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Eric Stanze - Raising the Never Dead! PDF Print E-mail
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Dec 12, 2004 at 07:00 PM
Eric Stanze has become one of the most acclaimed director's working on the b-movie circuit today! His latest release, ICE FROM THE SUN, has created quite a stir in the video market and with the fans alike. Eric recently went back to the editing room to recut and remaster some of his earlier classics. Here is what he had to say when we talked to him about this:
Dark Galler) Give us the plots of THE SCARE GAME, THE FINE ART, and SAVAGE HARVEST.

Eric Stanze) THE SCARE GAME is about six game players who are pulled into another dimension where they must fight for their lives. The Game Demon roams the game, collecting the souls of the victims. He can then puppet these dead souls, using them to play out new violent challenges for each new wave of players/victims. THE FINE ART is about a young artist named Valerie who finds herself investigating a series of gory murders that are all linked to mysterious paintings. SAVAGE HARVEST is about The Trail Of Tears and a Cherokee elder who, in an attempt to aid his tribe, unleashes demonic spirits. These demons now lay sleeping within the land, waiting for a descendent of this Cherokee elder to return. If these demons smell the returning Cherokee blood, they will arise and be able to possess the living, turning each human into an animalistic, ravenous killer.
DG) Why did you choose to remaster them?
ES) Well, we were finishing post production on ICE FROM THE SUN and I was very intent on forgetting about my earlier efforts. As far as I was concerned, ICE was the only current example of my abilities and the old movies should never be seen again by anyone! But people kept commenting on my "body of work" and how ICE was an interesting addition to it. No one would let me forget about SCARE GAME, FINE ART, or HARVEST. So, I figured if people still want to look at these older titles, I'd try to make them as presentable as possible. Originally, THE SCARE GAME and THE FINE ART were two separate movies that had been edited down for release by Tempe Video as a "double feature". While both of these movies were very low budget and produced with many a technical flaw, the biggest reason for their crappy picture quality upon release was the mastering, which was done VERY poorly. By the time this "double feature" hit the video store shelves it looked pretty bad, and that always bothered me. So I decided to remaster both titles, and while I was at it, do a bit of a restoration job on both, bringing them closer to the longer, original versions. The remastered version of THE FINE ART even contains scenes that we shot back in '92, but that never made it into any version before this one. I remastered HARVEST to improve the picture and sound quality. I did not do any re-editing on it. If I had the time and money, I probably would have. But HARVEST was the least offensive of the three old movies so I just let it be.
DG) What kind of progression of growth do you see in them in regards to you yourself - both as an individual and as a filmmaker?
ES) I always try to see what I screwed up at the end of every movie project. This sucks in a way, because I then forever dwell on everything I did wrong in each movie. But it is also good for me. I can definitely see vast improvement from each movie to the next. It's a unique progression because I started so young. I was only 18 when we made THE SCARE GAME. I was 20 when THE FINE ART was shot. So my movies got better with time partially because I learned from my mistakes as a director, but also because I simply grew into an adult who is, hopefully, more competent in general.
DG) What kinds of "bonuses" might we find on each of these new re-releases?
ES) THE FINE ART is still a pretty short movie, so for the Collector's Edition, we added two bonus shorts after the main feature. One short film is called VISION, directed by Jason Christ, who is one of the actors in ICE FROM THE SUN. The other short is called SURVIVE. It was directed by Tommy Biondo and I'm one of the leading actors in it. THE SCARE GAME and THE FINE ART both have mini-documentaries on the making of each movie. These mini-docs contain several out takes, which were a bit of a challenge to dig up after all these years. SAVAGE HARVEST also has a making-of documentary at the end that was produced when we shot the movie back in '93.
DG) You've had a nice career so far - one which many b-movie makers wish they could duplicate, I'm sure. Is there anything that, looking back, you would have done differently?
ES) When we started doing this stuff back when we were teenagers, we didn't have any long term career plans. We would start a movie project and just work hard to finish it, only concentrating on that particular project. We just focused on each movie and didn't really think in terms beyond the completion that project. Before I knew it, ten years had gone by and we had a bunch of movies done. I'm not sure how much of it I would do differently now. Again, I started so young that a lot of the stuff I would do differently now I did a certain way back then just because I was a dumb kid.
DG) The earlier movies tend to be more straightforward horror than your current work, which is more psychological. Will we see you venture back to pure horror anytime soon?
ES) One of the coolest things about doing what I do is the fact that we are always trying something different. I love doing something new on each project. I like that my features are all very different, ranging from traditional horror themes to really fucked up stuff like ICE FROM THE SUN to the dramatic and somber SCRAPBOOK. I've made several music videos and I like experimenting in that arena too. Also, I've co-produced, edited, and/or starred in several shorts that range from comedy to abstract, non-narrative, experimental pieces. I like the variety. But pure horror is what got me interested in making movies. I would love to do another straight horror flick, using what I learned making SAVAGE HARVEST to create an ultra-intense, atmospheric, gory, and downright scary horror movie. That would be fun. I do have an old horror script that I've been thinking about polishing up and making as a hard-hitting horror film. I've also been approached by an individual who wants to write and direct a SAVAGE HARVEST sequel that I would executive produce. We have no shortage of ideas here. And many of them are straight, pure horror movies. So, yes. I will most likely direct and/or participate in straight horror projects in the future.
DG) What's up next for Eric Stanze?
ES) We will be releasing SCRAPBOOK later this year. SCRAPBOOK is the most unsettling thing I've ever directed. It is a rape/revenge drama about a serial killer and the relationship he forges with one of his many victims. The intense rape and torture scenes in SCRAPBOOK are very difficult to watch. Directing that movie was a great experience, but SCRAPBOOK is a little too unnerving for me to watch very often. Also coming out in 2000 is THE SEVERED HEAD NETWORK, a compilation of experimental shorts by Midwest directors. I directed some music videos that will be on the program. The compilation will also feature Jason Christ's CURVEBALL: PILE OF JUNK, a short film that has won several awards now, including the Cine Eagle Award, a Telly Award, and an Emmy. Beyond SCRAPBOOK and THE SEVERED HEAD NETWORK, I have several story concepts in the works that could possibly be made as the next feature. The one I have been working on the most is a strange, high energy, sci-fi road movie. Other, more "back burner" projects we are developing include a SEVERED HEAD NETWORK VOLUME TWO, an ICE FROM THE SUN sequel, a book adaptation, a thriller with a Hitchcock-esque plot but an extremely racy, progressive style, and a very ambitious, logistically insane post-apocalyptic sci-fi film. What we do next will depend on the amount of financing we can drum up. I would be happy to do next any of these projects we currently have in development. I just can't wait to be on a set working with my team again.

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