Starring: Cloris Leachman, Tara Reid, Faust Checho,
Directed by: Tom Mattera, David Mazzon
on DVD! BUY IT
The Fields is a perfect thrill-filled horror flick. There’s
no gore, no screaming soundtrack, and no naked coeds flashing
big new implants at you in 3D – so if you’re under
say 30, you may not appreciate the style. I, personally, feel
this was the scariest film I have seen since the original Chainsaw
Massacre ruined countless nights of sleep all those years
fields – the fields they reference here – are some
how creepy; always have been. Add to that filming when the corn
is gone, and the six foot carcasses of stalk line up to create
their own Halloween-worthy forest scape…one’s imagination
can roam into a frenzied Fearland at the mere thought of a crow
being said, the story goes…It’s 1973, and young Steven’s
(Joshua Ormond) parents are having a few problems. His overseers
are too busy suspecting and accusing to allow focus to fall on
the youngin’. So, off to grandma’s house he goes.
father’s parents’ place. This quirky duo is a long-married
tough sonovabitch sort. Gladys (Cloris Leachman) is eccentric
and delightfully foul-mouthed, in that way many of us recall our
own grand parents using the forbidden words as colorful adjectives.
Hiney (Bev Appleton) is the sweet grandfather – he still
has his post-deviling sparkle twinkling in those old eyes of his
humble farm rests against a corn field; the kind that, while off-putting,
beckons for perusal. Naturally little Steven is drawn in like
any horror tale’s main character…especially when he
is told he better not go in there or he’ll end up, as his
loving grandma likes to point out, black and bloated and dead.
than you can say, “Godzilla has attacked Toyk…”
the lad sneaks within.
this point of the film, you are petrified. All they’ve done
is play some mood-altering music, showed a dysfunctional family’s
secrets, and reminded you about the Manson trial presently in
you are there with Steven. He’s a curious, smart kid. Still
he is a child. He sincerely ponders that this Manson chap could
be out and about, taking their exit to get some fresh veggies
and whatnots. Sure, Steven is in Pennsylvania, and Manson is behind
bars in California - but Steven heard the phrase parole
on the radio and that’s enough to ignite his nightmares.
aside, something’s up, and Steven is tuned in to it. And
you’re watching all this from his perspective.
Fields is brilliant. Screenwriter B. Harrison Smith wove
a fine freckled fearfest here. Each of the characters is deeply
built. Here, you won’t find yourself yelling at the kuckudoo-for-brains
characters for their stupid reactions; they are scared too - and
they listen. You get the feeling the film makers crossed their
T’s and made sure people in this film were on the ball.
From editing, location, clothes, set design – they didn’t
hand you an, "Oh come on!” moment once.
genuinely winced and begged Steve to get the hell outta there,
and when he visits his “odd” aunt, you skeeve through
the whole section of frames. That's the secret of The Fields'
success; continued simple empathetic manipulations of the
celluloid canvas before you.
Ormond (Steven) is simply delightful. His face tells the story,
and his ability to share fear is incredible; a lot was on this
young actor’s shoulders and he pulled off an Atlas-style
showing. His parents Tara Reid and Faust Checho are spot on as
young adults in a strained marriage. Johnson as Hiney is fabulous.
And, let's be frank...I don’t adore too many actor folks;
one of my personal chickbabe idols, Cloris Leachman is one holding
the Royal Flush at this high-stakes table of career-making hands.
Leachman wields her “Gladys” like she’s channeling
some lower-middle-class grandma’s skeleton-filled closet’s
soul. And, many of her lines make you bellow aloud towards the
screen. Yet, her fear and care for the child are clear as a mosquito
tableau in the finest Soviet amber (Watch
her and I at The Pirate’s of the Caribbean Red Carpet
– she does a bit from High Anxiety).
this. From The Fields' first atmospheric frame you can
just tell this quiet film is gonna scare the bejeesus out of you.
The people behind the film have grand futures. And, Joshua Ormond
will be walking some red shaded carpets soon; let’s hope
he has a good support system to avoid his own E! True Hollywood
recommendation: Peppermint tea (to sooth the fear-tension-fueled
bile building in your stomach), and a pack of Camels.
a few behind-the-scenes, and hangin' with Cloris!