Greetings, readers. You know, there’s almost something magical about independent film-making. Working your own hours, making the film you want to make without studio interference, independent film-makers like Greg Lamberson, Frank Henenlotter and Lloyd Kaufman are trailblazing visionaries, producing better films for discerning audiences sick of Hollywood. But for every Lamberson and Henenlotter, there is at least a dozen would-be film-makers who should have their cameras confiscated and their existing film-stock buried in a shallow grave.
One such would be Bill Cowell, president and CEO of Captures Entertainment, and the producer/director/writer/cinematographer/lead actor of tonight’s film, released to DVD as DARK HARVEST 2: THE MAIZE, in what is likely the most heinous example of piss-up marketing I’ve seen since NIGHTBREED. THE MAIZE does no credit to the DARK HARVEST series, nor to itself, nor to my home town of North Tonawanda, New York. Yes, this is a local film for me, filmed while I was in High School; in fact, I went to school with Cowell’s daughter Michelle, who appears in THE MAIZE, and one of the only things I remember her for was giving a presentation on this film to our English class in 12th grade.
Anyways, I’ll get more into the background of the film in a bit. First, to summarize. Spoilers ensue.
Meet Shy Walker (Bill Cowell), an average American everyman. On Halloween, a group of trick-or-treaters trigger a psychic vision in Shy, a vision of the Nettie girls, who disappeared a year earlier in a local corn maze. Shy interprets his vision as meaning that the girls were killed and the killer isn’t done yet. He also recalls that his wife Susan and daughters Keri (Alyssa Cowell, his real-life daughter) and Ali.
Shy races to the maze to rescue his daughters, who have disappeared inside the maze. Yelling their names, Shy enters the maze. One person (played by his other real-life daughter, Michelle) comments, “What a weirdo — I wouldn’t want to be stuck in there with him after dark.”
The next 70-80 minutes consists of Shy Walker wandering around the corn maze shouting “Girls! Girls? Girls!” like a confused, balding Motley Crue fan, intermixed with footage of Keri and Ali wandering around, screaming. And screaming. Screaming. Along the way, they both encounter the ghosts of the two girls killed in the maze the year before.
Soon Shy is forced to ask himself…is there any escape from…THE MAIZE?
And within twenty minutes of pushing “play” on my DVD remote, I was forced to ask myself if there was any escape from this movie. THE MAIZE: THE MOVIE clocks in at almost two hours in length, which is astonishing considering that there’s maybe fifteen minutes of plot. The rest of the film is simply Bill Cowell wandering around a corn field. Wandering. Wandering. Wandering. At one point there’s a five minute scene of him digging a hole. FIVE. MINUTES.
There’s no attempt at editing the film down to any sort of reasonable length, we have “montages” of floating picture-in-picture boxes showing the same scene from multiple angles…and Sweet Mother of Pus, does Cowell like angles. There’s even at least one scene where to change angle the camera is just flipped upside down. What editing we do see is the sort of rapid-fire-burst editing I tend to refer to as “Epileptic” or “Schizophrenic Lemur” editing.
I don’t think there’s anything else I can actually say about the film itself, so let me simply belittle it further. I’ve had more fun watching paint dry. I would take being assaulted by PCP-crazed baboons over sitting through another screening of this film. I apologize for the brevity of this review in contrast with my usual, more scholarly reviews here at The Blood Sprayer, but THE MAIZE: THE MOVIE is literally 100 minutes of nothing. Michael Andrews, in his 2010 book Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic’s Year-Long Quest To Find The Worst Movie Ever Made, selected THE MAIZE: THE MOVIE as the worst film he had seen, out of hundreds he watched over the course of 2008 and, as of this writing (May 17th, 2010) it stands as #29 on IMDB.com’s Bottom 100 List.
In the final analysis, I’m hesitant to even post this review on The Blood Sprayer. Is there a website called The Feces Sprayer I can submit film criticism to?