Yeah, Paris Hilton is in the news again, but Judge Gordon Sullivan says that still doesn't make her relevant.
"Come get a taste of the Old South…and let the Old South get a taste of you!"
Too often horror fans are asked to side with city folk against their evil, inbred, redneck, backwoods cousins. Even when we don't like the city folk very much, they're a tad better than the horrific hillbillies populating films like The Hills Have Eyes. Part of this imbalance was corrected with the 2005 remake/homage 2001 Maniacs, about a group of hapless city folks who stumble on the "Guts and Glory" celebration in a town still bitter about the Civil War. Because of the comic nature of the Southern villains, it was easy to root for them in fine horror-comedy tradition. The film worked so well that a sequel was in order: 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams. Unsurprisingly for a sequel to a remake, this film feels a little tired, but those just look for a little blood and breasts will be amply satisfied by this Southern concoction.
Every year the people of Pleasant Valley open their town up to Northerners to engage in a bit of revenge by eating their former enemies. It was a tradition, until enough people disappeared that the federales started to take notice. Knowing the law would shut them down, Mayor Buckman (Bill Moseley, The Devil's Rejects) decides to take the show on the road. The "Guts and Glory Traveling Jamboree" is born, taking the fight to Yankee territory. While traveling through Iowa, the troupe encounters the cast and crew of a reality show that takes two pampered socialites and places them in awkward situations (sound familiar?). When the show's crew is stranded near the camp, the producer decides they can shoot the "yokels" instead of taking the girls to the actual South, while the Confederates think it's their lucky day because they now have dinner waiting for them.
The first 2001 Maniacs flick worked pretty well because of the ample (and clever) gore and nudity combined with the gleeful performances of the "southern" cast, especially veteran Robert Englund as Mayor Buckman. The stereotypes were broad but effective, and, unlike much mid-decade horror, 2001 Maniacs didn't take its horror too seriously. Field of Screams hopes to take the first film to the next level, with more gore, more jokes, and more contemporary relevance. The only problem is the whole film feels about five or six years too late. I know that Paris Hilton is still a bit of a joke, but The Simple Life has been off the air for years and too many other movies have made fun of it in the meantime. Paris Hilton is just one example, but the film is riddled with "jokes" like that: stuff that may have once been clever but not anymore. Instead, we get Bill Moseley hamming it up as Mayor Buckman in a film where the absolute height of comedy is giving him a son who likes to have sex with a sheep.
In the film's defense, it does give us just as much, if not more, gore and nudity than the original 2001 Maniacs. Naturally our two socialite characters have to lose their tops, and many of the "Southern" townsfolk are corset-clad ladies. When people start to die, we get a whole heaping helping of the red stuff as the Confederates turn cannibal. This is more comedy gore than hardcore medical photos, so expect lots of goofy props and too-bright blood.
The true Southern hospitality shows itself in the DVD packaging. The film looks pretty good for a low-budget effort shot on the cheap, with no serious damage or compression artifacts to mar the generally bright transfer. The audio keeps the dialogue front and center, and the film's musical cues never overpower. The extras start with an audio commentary with director Tim Sullivan and selected cast members. It's obvious that the film was a labor of love, and although the results aren't perfect, Sullivan stands by them proudly. There's also a behind-the-scenes featurette that covers production, mixes onset footage with talking-head interviews. There's also a "Rock & Roll Slide Show" that's basically an excuse to show stills of the film's lovely ladies along with some soundtrack cuts. Finally, the disc rounds out with some previews that include the film's red-band trailer.
2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams is a decent but unnecessary sequel to the first film. Although the nudity and gore are amped up, the humor doesn't quite stick as often this time out. Fans are going to want to seek it out, and the solid presentation and ample extras for this type of flick make it worth a rental at least to low-budget horror lovers.
2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams could be better, but it's not guilty. Yee haw!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: First Look Pictures
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