Sea of Dust
Written & Directed by Scott Bunt
Prester John...Tom Savini
Stefan Christoph...Troy Holland
Carla...Darby Lynn Totten
"For over 800 years, belief existed in a Christian super-king named Prestor John, who was said to dwell across a mythic Sea of Dust. Explorers sought him, religions courted him, and crusaders waged war in his name...until one day, when Prestor John began to believe in himself."
Physician-in-training Stefan Christoph is traveling by carriage, having just been rejected and humiliated by his would-be father-in-law, when he stumbles upon the prone, unconscious form of Carla, a beautiful woman, blocking his path through the forest. He revives her and takes her on as passenger, delivering her to the house of Dr. Maitland, with whom he is supposed to intern. Once there, Stefan learns of a rather strange medical anomaly sweeping the local area: the spontaneous explosions of human heads.
Yeah, I thought that might get your attention. Don't get your shorts wet...we only get to see it once.
Townsfolk have also been falling into temporary trance-like states (much like Carla), and when they awaken they seem perfectly normal. Well, almost normal...except for their tendency to attempt homicide by edged weapon.
It's all the work of the aforementioned Prestor John, of course, a myth-become-man who is carrying on the bloody work of the crusades. Because, as one follower states, you can not understand Salvation without suffering. Prestor wants you to know God's love, and he's more than willing to beat it into you.
I had low expectations going into this film. The terrible cover art makes one expect yet another tedious vampire flick, and I've never been much for period pieces. But Sea of Dust transcends first impressions by defying expectations. Whereas most low-budget horror films are perfectly content with crappy video quality, a ten-dollar Halloween mask, and a storyline that has been on repeat since the 'Seventies, Sea of Dust instead uses solid set-pieces and believable costuming to deliver a flick that captures the feeling of old Hammer films.
When one thinks of religious horror, the mind immediately goes to The Exorcist and The Omen, but this is a whole different breed all together. Like an unauthorized prequel to Left Behind, written by someone with more theological training than actual faith. And if the concept isn't enough to entice you, how about the appearances of Tom Savini and Ingrid Pitt?
Still not enough? Well, here's the clincher:
Where else are you going to see a man stabbed in the skull with a crucifix?
"Was that really necessary? You poked a hole in me!"