The amusingly titled “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams” is director Tim Sullivan’s follow up to his 2005 remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ cult 1964 “Two Thousand Maniacs!”. Unsurprisingly, the film sees Sullivan basically serving up more of the same, with plenty of redneck humour, tits and ass, and of course, lashings of red grue. This time around, the film has “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and “House of 1000 Corpses” favourite Bill Moseley as the mayor of the cursed Pleasant Valley, replacing Robert Englund, with a fair few of the supporting cast returning, including Lin Shaye, Ryan Fleming and Christa Campbell. Fans will be pleased to hear that Sullivan really pulls out all the stops, ladling on the gore and throwing in a non stop barrage of decidedly non-politically correct jokes.
The film does attempt a slight shake up of the formula, with the good undead folks of Pleasant Valley, still looking for revenge on the Yankee devils who slaughtered them way back when, heading on the road to find new guests for their annual cannibalistic Guts N’ Glory Jamboree. Their paths cross with spoiled Paris Hilton-a-like rich girls Rome and Tina Sheraton (Katy Marie Johnson and Asa Hope), their boyfriends and the crew of their ‘Road Rascals’ reality television show. Unsurprisingly, Mayor Buckman (Bill Moseley) and his kin are only too happy to offer their new friends some fine Southern hospitality, which as usual translates to killing them off in all manner of wild and wacky ways.
If anything, “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams” is closer to the spirit of Lewis’ original than its predecessor, with the emphasis more firmly on splatter sight gags rather than any kind of attempt to actually scare or even to truly disgust. The film basically revolves entirely around its amusingly elaborate kill scenes, and certainly features its fair share of gruesome moments, including one particularly nasty shot of Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy fame bisecting a naked woman with a circular saw. Although the special effects are variable in places, to be fair this is really part of the fun and the screen is dripping with red for an impressive percentage of the running time. None of this is ever really nasty, and the film seems to be aiming for good time, guilt free slaughter rather than any torture porn style sadism.
The film’s humour is as much a selling point as its carnage, packing in a wide variety of capers that cover the whole spectrum of low brow redneck laughs, with plenty of gay, sexual and racist crudities that poke fun at pretty much everyone and everything imaginable. This approach works quite well and sits comfortably with the film’s fast and loose splatter style, not least since a good proportion of the buffoonery is actually quite funny. All of the cast certainly seem to have been having a fine old time on the set, and this does make the film fun viewing for the most part.
This having been said, the film is far from perfect, even by the standards of the genre. The budget was obviously considerably lower than that of the original, and this does show up on screen at times, with the fairly cheap looking production values giving things a rather amateurish air at times. Similarly, the script does grate in places away from the jokes, with some fairly interminable dialogue, not helped by some awful acting from most of the cast, Moseley aside, who pretty much just does his usual routine. Sullivan’s direction is fine and enthusiastic, if anonymous, though the film suffers from serious pacing issues, with very little of interest linking the set pieces, and a few sequences where it really starts to drag.
Still, oddly enough this kind of enhances the film’s charm, and gives “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams” the feel of an authentic Herschell Gordon Lewis production, with its more groan-worthy moments only adding to the enjoyment. As such, at least for viewers who appreciate splatter gags and mock-offensive humour, it certainly delivers the goods in reasonable style, if without offering anything particularly new or creative.
Tim Sullivan (director) / Chris Kobin, Tim Sullivan, Christopher Tuffin (screenplay)
CAST: Bill Moseley … Mayor Buckman
Lin Shaye … Granny Boone
Christa Campbell … Milk Maiden
Andrea Leon … Val
Nivek Ogre … Harper Alexander
Ahmed Best … Crow
Katy Marie Johnson … Rome Sheraton
Christopher McDaniel … Rufus
Adam Robitel … Lester
Ryan Fleming … Hucklebilly