2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams

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Herschell Gordon Lewis is known as the man who, along with producer David F. Friedman, invented the splatter movie with “Blood Feast” in the early 1960s. This deadly duo made a string of gory and/or sexy quickies back then, and to be honest, most of them are more fun to read about than to actually watch — or even better, hearing the jovial Friedman; the Sultan of Sleaze, telling anecdotes about the movies is far more entertaining than watching these rather amateurish and sloppy films. Okay, they may be fun — if you’re drunk. And yes, I’ve had a couple of dinners with Friedman.

One of their best and most popular movies, is “Two Thousand Maniacs!” from 1964. In 2005, Tim Sullivan remade the movie — sort of — as “2001 Maniacs”, produced by Eli Roth. This was a surprisingly fun and entertaining splatter comedy, starring Robert Englund, about the inhabitants of Southern town Pleasant Valley that was massacred during the Civil War. Pleasant Valley materializes from beyond the grave every once a year, so that the cheerful villagers can avenge their deaths by slaughtering Yankees in inventive ways.

Now Sullivan is back with a sequel, “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams”, which opens with a pretty cool comic book style credits sequence — the movie is apparently based on a graphic novel. Robert Englund is gone, but he’s been replaced by the great Bill Moseley as the murderous Mayor George W. Buckman.

It all begins with a sheriff visiting Pleasant Valley, telling the Sadistic Southerners to stop killing people passing by. Now, this is weird — I thought the town disappeared into thin air after their annual blood feasts. Anyway, Buckman and the others don’t like what the sheriff’s asking for, so they kill him using a barrel laden with spikes. The hungry townspeople — yes, they’re naturally cannibals — wait for unsuspecting people driving by, but nobody shows up. Not good. What to do?

Well, if the North doesn’t come to the South, the South will come to the North, so they enter a bus and start touring the country. Once again — how the hell do they do that? Aren’t they some kind of ghosts, haunting the site of the massacre?

Anyway: we’re introduced to a TV crew, shooting a reality show, clearly inspired by the one about Paris Hilton, what ever it was called, I never watched it. The cast and crew are a bunch of idiots and they run into the Cannibalistic Confederates, who have set up a big circus tent and stuff for their Guts ‘n’ Glory Jamboree. The TV people decide to shoot their show there, but it doesn’t take long before they’re killed and eaten by the Repulsive Rebels.

Come on, Sullivan — what the hell is this? “Field of Screams” is a truly awful movie! This is incredibly bad. Is this really a movie by the same guy who made the earlier entry?

There are almost no production values at all. It looks extremely cheap. They’ve probably spent most of the money on a couple of slightly impressive, but utterly fake looking gore effects. The acting is bad beyond belief, most of the, ahem, “actors” give the impression of being rejects from a porn flick.

Sure — Bill Moseley is great, and so is crazy Lin Shaye, who returns from the first movie as Granny Boone. She has a few hilarious scenes, one of them is a parody of “Flashdance” (don’t ask).

But there’s almost no story here, the dialogue is exquisitely lousy and the characters are annoying. “Field of Screams” gives the impression of being somebody’s home movies (if this somebody is a psychopath, of course).

There’s lots of nudity in the movie, and in the behind the scenes documentary, Sullivan talks a lot about naked chicks and that exploitation means sex and nudity. But all the nudity in the world can’t help this amateurish piece of embarrassment.

A guy from Skinny Puppy plays one of the Southerners and a whole bunch of famous directors are mentioned in the end credits as sources of inspiration. Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman were the executive producers.

If eventual further installments of the series will be as piss-awful as this one, I sure hope the South won’t rise again!

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