2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams Worst Film Ever

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I do realise that  branding 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams as the worst film ever leaves me open to all kinds of arguments. I will take the chance of having other people’s candidates for that “honour” thrown in my face, but, it is worth the risk.  It is very seldom that I find a film that I cannot watch all the way through. The follow up to the first campy horror film 2001 Maniacs with Robert Englund and Lin Shayne and the second in a planned trilogy, is worse than abysmal.

I would go so far as to say that it is execrable. Which is the nicest way I can think to put it.

The film was made on a budget of half a million and it looks like a lot less than that was actually spent on the making of this tragic waste of celluloid.

The first thing you notice when watching the film is the sound. The dialogue of each and every character, with the possible exception of Bill Mosley, sounds dubbed…by someone else. At times the actors lips don’t even match their spouted dialogue.  Even Mosley, of whom I am a huge fan, sounds like he has “looped” his lines after the fact.

Badly.

The plot, such as it is, deals with the Civil War dead who occupy Pleasant Valley having to take their show on the road. Their source of yankee souls to take has dried up so they decide to have a travelling road show of southern inhospitality to collect the ration of northern victims required to allow them to shuffle off to hell or wherever Civil War ghouls go.

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Mired in with this plot “twist” is the introduction of Rome Sheraton, no points awarded for guessing who she is supposed to be, and her sister Tina Sheraton. The two parties meet up in Iowa and together they drag the film even further into the barnyard muck that passes as a film.

I noticed that if you look up the film in Wikipedia, the link to an interview by Bill Mosley gives you an Error 404. Presumably he was so appalled by the finished product that he had it taken down. For the man who so effortlessly scared the crap out of audiences as much as he amused in House of a 1000 Corpses and the follow-on film The Devil’s Rejects he must be embarrassed to be associated with such dross.

As I mentioned above, I literally could not finish watching the film. It was so bad, I began to suspect that most of the actors and all of the crew were meth addicts or half-wits who had never made a film before.

I try to never outrightly pan a film, I usually try to find some redeeming qualities. Unfortunately 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams have none. At one point in the film, Bill Mosley as Mayor George W. Buckman (get it?) gets an obligatory close-up, one of several, and the “scar” over his missing eye  has been so inexpertly applied that it is coming off and looks as fake and as hokey as the rest of the film.

I’ve reviewed abysmal student films that were better than this drivel.

My final verdict?

Avoid at all costs. Getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick would be less painful than attempting to sit through this film. It would probably also be more entertaining.

I’ll finish this with a heartfelt plea to Bill Mosley, “Please, Please! Do not participate in  films like this anymore!”

Michael Smithfieldofscreams

United Kingdom

24 August, 2013

The Bay Grown up Found Footage

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After passing over this film on the Playstation store repeatedly, I finally watched the trailer and it caught my interest. I watched it and decided to “give it a go.” I’m glad I did. Although it uses the “found footage” formula that is quickly become a new genre of film, I agree with David Cox of The Guardian, who awarded the film 5 out of 5 stars and called it a “horror film for grown ups.”

The plot is a very realistic one. A big businessman in a small seaside town in Maryland is dumping toxic waste into the bay that the town depends on for their water and for holiday trade. The toxic levels rise in the water breeding a sort of super bacteria that mutates into a parasite that is eating fish alive. From the inside out.

During a Fourth of July celebration, the town’s people and tourists contract the bug and chaos ensues.

The film was directed by Barry Levinson and written by Michael Wallach. It premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in theaters on November 2, 2012.

Overall the film has received good reviews from critics, despite a low “overall” score from IMDb of five and a half percent. Levinson who directed Good Morning Vietnam, yes that Levinson, does a brilliant job considering that the budget was obviously very low; which appears to be common feature amongst “found footage” films. (With the obvious exception of the huge budget for Cloverfield.)

The cast was all unknowns, which helped to sell the film’s realistic theme. While not too compact, the smaller setting of a town plagued (excuse the pun) by a virus or bacteria that causes multiple deaths and abject paranoia by the citizens worked for me. The addition of what looked like stock footage of police cars and ambulances racing to scenes and the young “trainee” media type who is there to catch the whole thing on tape, made it seem more of a documentary than a film.

It impressed me that Levinson could take the found footage formula that is, in my opinion, being done to death and make it into something fresh and interesting. It just goes to show that low-budget doesn’t have to mean low expectations.

While the film doesn’t work for everyone, I enjoyed it and it actually “creeped” me out at one point. The main reason being the plot and the reactions of the authorities and the experts at the CDC who were attempting to help via the internet. The CDC with their, in the beginning, smug know-it-all attitude which slowly devolves into concern, then panic, was just one other factor that sold the film.

The Bay is available on the Playstation store as a rental or for purchase. It is also available on DVD, I don’t know if it is on Netflix or any other “legal” streaming site.

I’d have to give the film a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Worthy of a look, The Bay is definitely a winner in the found footage “sub-genre” of horror and as David Cox said, it may just be the first “grown up” horror film. While I can’t agree 100 percent with the statement, the film definitely deviates from the many “hack and slash” and supernatural films on offer in the “sub-genre.”

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Grave Encounters 2 Better the Second Time Around

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I watched the previous Vicious Bros film, Grave Encounters (2011) which was also written and directed by the two men. I enjoyed the film, apart from a few annoying moments and when I reviewed it, I was pretty fair in my assessment. It was a good film, but nothing to write home about. It was a great first effort.

Since I hadn’t turned cartwheels after seeing the first one, I somewhat hesitantly decided to watch Grave Encounters 2. It follows the first film in the “found footage” genre that is being done to death, but, the film was helmed by  John Poliquin and not the Vicious Bros. They wrote the second film was well, but decided to leave their involvement  to writing it and doing a humorous cameo.

This is director Poliquin’s first feature length directorial effort and he does a good job. The  overall pacing of the film is good, with the odd interlude of meandering action that causes it to lag in places. The main protagonists are an eclectic bunch of students, one of which wants to be the Sam Raimi. (In fact their film that they are making at the beginning of the movie really made me think of Raimi’s Evil Dead.)

The cast was full of “unknowns” or at least they were unknown to me, with the exception of the lead actor from the first film and the “smarmy” producer who was also in the first film.

The sophistication of the scares were better in this sequel and I can honestly hold my hand over my heart and say that it was a lot better than the first one. For a start, the screaming ninny in the first film, that I wanted to kill, was obviously absent in the sequel and none of the students felt the need to screech non-stop at the scary things that were happening.

My only real complaint was going to be about the horrible acting from the students in the little “film within a film” until I saw a real student film to review where the actors were so bad, that the “bad acting” in Grave Encounters actually looked quite good in comparison.

Grave Encounters 2 was a delightful find and it proved that the Vicious Brothers are better the second time around with a different director. Enjoyable fun and the script gives another dig at scary movies and the found footage genre.  A definite 3.5 out of 5 stars with a somewhat confusing plot that doesn’t really spoil the overall film.

An improvement on the first one.

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V/H/S (2012) Fantastic Found Tape Fear

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I had thought that I was pretty much burnt out on “found footage” films. But my excitement levels rose after this film got into its second vignette  out of the six “mini” films on offer here.

Although the film really falls into the anthology genre, a few horror films do this really well but the ones who can really pull if off are all Asian film makers, who have yet to make an anthology film that could be classed as a stinker.

This anthology of “found” footage horror films had been written and directed by some of the most impressive new names in horror today:  Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and the directing quartet known as Radio Silence.

The film opened January 2012 at the  2012 Sundance Film Festival  and was then  released on demand on August 31, 2012. V/H/S then had a limited  theatrical premiere in the United States on October 5, 2012, in the UK on January 18, 2013, and in Argentina on February 7, 2013.

I will not go into any of the films except for the one that ties all the segments together. A group of young men are hired to steal a video tape from a house. They accept the job and find that the house is full of video tapes, video players and a dead man. As the film moves forward, the action keeps cutting back to the room with the dead (?) man and all those tape players.

Tapes are put into a player and watched, by both one of the young men and us. The dead body on the chair behind the film’s video watching character appears and disappears. It is a brilliant way to segue the different films together in a cohesive manner.

Each of the six films are entertaining. Each one has a separate theme and they all feature a type of almost “guerrilla” film making. The other thing that the films all have in common, is that they don’t don’t suffer from what I like the call, “The Cloverfield Effect.”

In the 2008 film, Cloverfield, when the character in the film who was “filming” the events put the camera down, even in a stressful or scary situation, the camera was always right side up and always in focus. The found films in the anthology don’t do that. Cameras seemingly wind up where they, “wind up,” if you get my meaning. It doesn’t feel like a “movie” so much as actual found footage.

The news that a sequel is due out this year, actually has me quite excited. As I said above, I thought I was burnt out on this particular genre, but apparently,  a well made “found footage” film can still get me excited.

This is a real 5 out of 5 stars as all the stories were original and in most cases, I couldn’t see the twist coming. Of course I might be too obtuse, but as a rule, I can usually see the twist a mile away. Great little film here that won’t disappoint you.

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The Tortured Torture Porn With a Message

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Directed by Robert Lieberman, The Tortured can be firmly classified as “torture porn” it is certainly not pretty and it does pass into the realms of pornography as they’ve been set up by “experts.”

It is surprising. Jesse Metcalfe who played the lovelorn cuckolding gardener in Desperate Housewives, the teenage satyr in John Tucker Must Die, is very suited to light comedy and it was a treat to see him in a role that required more of him than to just be good looking. Erika Christensen, I remember from the 2002 “teen Basic Instinct” film Swimfan. She played a transfer student with an unhealthy obsessional trait.

Bill Moseley‘s  name immediately made this a horror film and one that could be expected to contain buckets of gore. His character in both the Rob Zombie films as Otis Firefly, the elder brother of Baby, the violent sociopathic killer have pretty much stamped him, in my mind at any rate, as gory horror actor.

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The plot is pretty simple. It is an “eye for eye” affair. Elise  (Christensen) and Craig  (Metcalfe) Landry have their six year-old son Benjamin snatched from their yard by John Kozlowski (Moseley). Kozlowski is a serial child killer who kills their son. He is, somewhat amazingly caught, but only after he has horribly murdered their son.

At his trial, instead of getting life with no chance for parol, he gets 25 years to life, which means he could actually get out on parole in 10 years. The Landry’s are beyond furious. They decide that they are going to practise their own brand of justice. They kidnap the prisoner on his way to another prison and take him to a cabin in the woods.

This cabin is not a Whedonesque type affair, it is just an old broken down property.

With a basement.

I will not go into the particulars of the rest of the film but the clue is in the title, The Tortured. And it does what is says on the label. I wasn’t surprised, but I was disturbed at the coldness of the camera lens. It dispassionately gets us up close and personal with the grizzly details and it makes for uncomfortable viewing.

The only redeeming factor in the film, is the ending. This is torture porn with a message. A pretty good one too. But I cannot divulge it without giving away a huge plot twist.

I will tell you this, as a horror film aficionado, I did’t see it coming. The twist I had in mind, did not exist.

So good job by Marek Poseval who wrote the thing and to Lieberman who directed it.

But…

Unless you are strong of stomach, I am as a rule, I watched it while eating my tea (dinner in the US). But even I could feel my gag reflex attempting to cut in a couple of times.

For plot twist alone, I’d give this a 3 out of 5 stars. I knew it was going to be a horror film, as I said, Bill Moseley, of whom I am a huge fan, almost guaranteed it. It was just a bit too much torture porn for my tastes, despite its message.

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