by Ian Shearer
I came up against a rather unexpected obstacle when I joined the International Syndicate of Cult Film Critics: my local Poundland didn’t have any B-movies. Neither did the Poundland in the city centre. I decided I would have to bend the rules slightly and just go to a normal DVD shop and seek out a bargain. Since I wasn’t relying on a bargain bin to narrow my selection, I decided it had to be either a horror or martial arts movie. If I was going to forego quality in the name of the project I sure as shit was not going to compromise on the violence and/or titties.
I skimmed the horror section, filtering anything that didn’t have a bright pink £3 sticker on it. Not quite as fun as getting a movie for a quid, but still not breaking the bank. I landed on 2001 Maniacs (*1) and almost skimmed on, since I already have that movie. This one had a different cover, though, so I stopped and, alas, it was actually 2001 Maniacs: Field Of Screams. A sequel! Perfect. And since the original 2001 Maniacs is one of the most batshit horror movies I have ever seen, I felt the £3 outlay was more than fair. I scanned the back of the case and was disappointed to discover that Robert Englund had not reprised his role, but heartened to find that his shoes had been filled by none other than Bill Fucking Moseley. Boobs, blood and Bill Moseley had been a winning trifecta for House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, and I truly believed I had lucked onto the proverbial diamond in the rough. As I was paying I also thought the cute girl with the nice rack smiled at me, so in hindsight that was two things I was dead fucking wrong about.
The story is that when people stop showing up at the maniacs’ civil war re-enactment park, they take their show on the road. This at first appears to be a completely arbitrary plot point, since it has no bearing on the story whatsoever, but then you realise that the reason for it is simply that they clearly did not have the budget to recreate the town from the first film (*2). Fodder for the maniacs comes in the form of a television crew which is on the road shooting what is absolutely, positively, not a piss-take of The Simple Life. At first I thought it was, but I checked the disclaimer at the end of the credits and it turns out any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Anyway. The film crew has van trouble and decides to shoot some scenes at the maniacs’ makeshift camp. What should follow is a series of hilarious and bloodthirsty murders, punctuated by – or even better, combined with – a few silly sex scenes.
What actually follows is a series of embarrassingly uninspired murders dotted through a story that is closer in content to spoof than anything else. The sheer gratuity of it should be fun, but is so contrived it just comes off as boring. The dialogue is at best a forgiveable attempt at horror-movie-cornball and at worst a string of poorly judged race jokes. Worst of all is the nuts and bolts film-making. The costume, set design and special effects are all haphazard, with none of the love or attention one would expect from a horror film crew, and the sound is just fucking terrible. Several scenes obviously had sound issues and were dubbed – poorly – which is just plain annoying. The inattention to detail makes me wonder whether the people who made this piece of shit really like horror movies at all, and makes me feel bad for the cast members like the aforementioned Bill Moseley, and also Lin Shaye and Christa Campbell, who were in the first movie and were totally let down by the script and the production of this one.
The first 2001 Maniacs was fucking bananas. Gory, sexy, hilarious, and it had Robert Englund doing his thing. This movie doesn’t even deserve to be part of the same franchise. Had I managed to find it in a £1 bargain bin, I would still feel ripped off. A truly, truly shitty movie.
* 1 – It strikes me now that this movie should have been at the very start of an alphabetical assortment. It is not impossible, though, that it was deliberately hidden by some good Samaritan.
* 2 – If I had to say where that budget went, I’d say it was used to pay John Landis to give the following quote for the DVD cover: “One of the rare sequels that surpasses the original.” Fuck off.