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2001 Maniacs: Field Of Screams (2010)
Director: Tim Sullivan

review by Mark West
SPOILER ALERT!
Okay, here's the set-up. In the American Civil War, the southern town of Pleasantville was attacked and all of the inhabitants (all 2001 of them) were massacred. Every year, "the south must rise" and those dead souls come back to claim the lives of 2001 northerners. Since nobody much "comes to the south any more" (surely some mistake?), the 2001 maniacs (well, seven or eight of them), decide to go on a road-trip north. Enter the goons from a reality TV show ('Road Rascals', a 'satirical swipe' at A Simple Life) and the scene is set for not much else to happen other than waste 82 minutes of your life.

Now I'm going to try and be objective here - I know about bad films, I've watched an Uwe Boll epic (Seed), and also suffered through The Cellar Door, but this absolutely takes the biscuit. If I could have done, I'd have given it a score of zero or moved into negative figures. It's a stinker, right from the off, and not once does it redeem itself. Apparently following on from 2001 Maniacs (itself an homage/ remake of the H.G. Lewis 'classic' 2000 Maniacs from the 1960s), this gives low-budget filmmaking a bad reputation. I have no idea how much they spent on it, but the 12 days they took to make it at least means they got six or more days off for good behaviour.

Where to start? How about the acting? Bill Moseley has been good in the past - The Devil's Rejects, most recently - and Lin Shaye is usually good value for money, but both of them here seem to have forgotten any training they might have once received or, indeed, any of the experience they gained on other films. The remainder of the cast is either so over-the-top you want to brain them, or so stupidly serious (Christa Campbell, I'm talking to you - 'scream queen', my arse) that they standout as even more untalented than the rest. The only saving grace for me was the inclusion of Ahmed Best, playing Crow - at least the legacy of Jar Jar Binks has ruined his career.

None of the characters has any definition, beyond the voiceover at the beginning and pretty much everyone reverts to stereotype within a few moments of their introduction, with no political correctness about to cloud the issue (which leads to an appallingly bad 'joke scene' right at the end (and I'm going to spoil it here, because if you've got any sense, you'll never see it) where the far-too-old-but-who-cares Lin Shaye gives birth to a toddler-sized black baby. Cue winking and mugging from Ahmed Best and Bill Moseley shouting, "a negro?"

The reality show director is a Jew (obvious from his bangs, which are clearly fastened to his cap), the producer is a lesbian Brit (though her accent is fairly international) and the sisters of the reality show have one or two moments of almost-incest contact, which is never explored beyond a couple of supposed-to-be-titillating moments. Thanks to the team taking "the show on the road" (and we get to see the show at one point, for about 10 sorry minutes), the whole film is shot in one field. That's it.

Production design consists of several tents and a few bales of straw, plus a decrepit camper van. Special effects are crude, which perhaps befits the originator of the 'franchise', and the music is bad enough to make you want to watch it as a silent film. And that, in fact, would be a help because the sound quality is dreadful. The first few sequences were obviously shot with live sound, because the background noise is almost overpowering and, from that point on, it's all looped after shooting and everyone - wherever they are in the film - sounds like they're saying their dialogue with a bucket on their heads. Oh yes, the dialogue. If I quoted any of it here, you'd never believe it was either filmed or spoken by an actor, so take my word for it that you'll spend most of your viewing wondering whether you did just hear what you did just hear.

I try to be even-handed with my reviews and, as I have the experience of having made a couple of micro-budget films in the past, I know how difficult it is to make a film but with this travesty, I can't pretend that it's anything other than an absolutely awful, dire, dreadful mess. It has no redeeming features (even the frequent topless shots are ruined by every female cast member who bares them, having very fake-looking boobs) and is generally an insult to the viewer, that they should be expected to put up with this tripe. Do not, under any circumstances, watch or rent 2001 Maniacs: Field Of Screams. It's truly terrible.

Oh, and just a quick word to the filmmakers - thanking every horror director, writer, magazine and website you can think of doesn't make your film any better. At all... Though it does pad out your credits, I suppose.

On my screener copy, there were three extras - a slideshow (didn't bother with it), a trailer (as rubbish as you'd expect), and a frankly astonishing 18-minute 'making of' featurette. This consists of the director sitting in his study, talking about his movie-making friends (did John Landis really say this was a good film?) and what he intended the film to be. He's either seriously deluded or not watching what everyone else is. Bill Moseley pops up to say how much fun he and the cast had making it, and expresses real delight that they managed to get some hay bales as set dressing, all without a hint of irony. As it is, the 18 minutes runtime feels twice as long. I don't know if I made it clear before, but I would seriously advise anyone to not rent or buy this DVD.

2001 Maniacs: Field Of Screams



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