Katy Marie Johnson
Jordan Yale Levine
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2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams (2010)
1st Aug 10
When the local sheriff tells the folk of Pleasant Valley that he is taking down their detour sign prior to their annual Guts N’ Glory Jamboree these maniacs of the South, not to be outdone, take to the road to find Northerners to punish for their past sins and have a little munch on too.
Whilst many applauded debuting director Tim Sullivan’s remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 1964 flick 2001 Maniacs its mix of comedy and violence left this particular reviewer cold. Aside from the likes of horror legend Robert Englund taking the lead role as Mayor Buckman and his original Elm Street co-star Lin Shaye appearing in the same movie again
there was little else of note and it faded fast from memory. Five years later on and along comes this rather belated sequel. An American Werewolf in London director John Landis claims this is
‘one of the rare sequels that surpasses the original’. That's hardly saying a lot considering the original wasn’t worth squat and besides what does Landis know about what makes a decent sequel when he subjected the world to his unneeded Blues Brothers 2000 for Christ sakes! It was hardly Aliens or The Godfather Part II was it?
There’s no denying the cheapness of this movie but what it lacks in budget it makes up for by playing this to the hilt. Sullivan’s movie knows it’s crass and just exploitation for the sake of exploitation and as the cover brags there’s more blood, more laughs and more nakedness. This movie is not ashamed to stand up and be proud for what it is and that’s puerile adolescent fun.
Our cannibalistic chums, from first time round, find out that the reason for the lack of Northeners to chow down on at their annual Guts N’ Glory Jamboree is result of the local sheriff wanting no trouble and taking their misleading detour sign down. After sorting him out they decide that if the North isn’t going to come down South to them then they will just have to go North instead for their intake of Yankee flesh. Once in Iowa they bump into the crew of the Road Rascals reality show and their dumb hosts Rome and Tina – very The Simple Life. The producer sees ripe material in our Maniacs for their show and besides it saves them all having to travel down South to get the same. Little do they know that the Maniacs have an agenda too and it involves making a meal, literally, out of them all.
Opening up with an explanatory and very effective comic strip sequence that brings the audience up to speed as to whom our Maniacs are and why they hate the Northerners so much Sullivan’s script, co-written with Chris Kobin, wastes no time in introducing the fresh meat – sorry new batch of characters – and aims for the most offensive common denominator. First off there are tits aplenty for the boys and chiselled male torsos for the girls and then there’s the hugely inventive killings
that whilst gross are more for comic affect than to turn viewers off. Then there’s the dialogue that takes swings at those living in the North of America as well as the South whilst too as well as delivering such delicious lines as ‘You’re nine inches away from starring in my next movie’ and equally amusing responses like ‘Feels like three to me’.
So why has the movie been awarded just an average rating? For all the enthusiastic playing and the pitch perfect performances from genre regulars Bill Moseley and Lin Shaye there are moments where the gags fall flat and there’s too much of a lull towards the end. For every inspired highlight such as Flashdance/Maniac flavoured Cannibal Rock song and dance number, complete with blood instead of water shower there’s the likes of a stuffed sheep that gets shagged that just hangs unwanted in the air like a Vindaloo-tinged fart.
Apparently there is another sequel called 2001 Maniacs: The Hellbillys Have Eyes waiting in the wings depending on how this one fares at your local rental outfit before getting the green light for production. If it can iron out the unevenness of this first sequel then it will be most welcome however given that the makers shot this in just twelve days and aimed it to be nothing more than cheap exploitation perhaps it’s churlish to have such high demands. Besides it’s not often you get
Jar Jar Binks – in this case the actor that played him Ahmed Best – and a circular saw seen slicing up through a woman’s pink bits in the same movie so for the handful of odd delights it does manage to give us it’s worth a six pack or two for a daft evening in.
2001 Maniacs – Shock N Roll Slide Show – this is twenty six minutes of promotional photos and other such bumph all accompanied by songs from the movie’s soundtrack.
Trailer - Bog standard and rather lazy extra
2001 Maniacs – Behind the Scenes - Eighteen informative minutes spent listening to the affable director Tim Sullivan who reveals some juicy facts for fans of the franchise such as Robert Englund was meant to return but couldn’t so in stepped Bill Moseley whom Sullivan met from doing the same horror circuits as Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects in which Moseley starred.
1st Nov 04 Above all though, it is the relationship between John and Laura Baxter which is the film’s central focus throughout, and the gradual disintegration of their relationship amidst a haze of grief.