Maplewoods (2002)
By: Michelle R. on February 6, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
S & H (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 2.35:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 2.0. 86 minutes
The Movie
Director: David B. Stewart III
Starring: Thomas Reilly, Elissa Mullen, Christopher Connolly, John Weidemoyer, John Martineau
Screenplay: David B. Stewart III
Music: David B. Stewart III
Tagline: Betrayed... Hunted... And left for... The Dead.
Country: USA
A team of Army Special Forces is dispatched to an abandoned biological weapons compound, 'Maplewoods', a site where decades ago re-animation experiments were conducted on human 'specimens' in an attempt to create an indestructible army for use in future wars. These sinister trials resulted in disastrous consequences – unable to control their undead creations, officials from the U.S. military deserted the base and classified all information relating to the project.

A team of soldiers, led by Major General John Gibbs (whose father originally conducted the gruesome experiments), are informed that their mission involves destroying all documents relating to the infamous 'Maplewoods Project' and clearing the area of any remaining specimens. Gibbs and his troop are completely unaware they are being sent into a death trap – the government is utterly intent on maintaining absolute secrecy regarding the atrocities, and will stop at nothing to achieve this goal. Agent Briggs, a shady CIA official accompanying the team, plants a bomb and hinders the main escape route when a horde of bloodthirsty, flesh eating zombies are let loose. Briggs is shot dead, but time is running out fast – the bomb will detonate in 13 hours and the zombies are ravenous killing machines. Will the soldiers escape, or will the hunters become the hunted?

Filmed in 1999 by one-man wonder David B. Stewart III (who also completed the script, editing, music, costume and set design – amongst other duties), Maplewoods sat on the shelf for three years before finally being granted a DVD release in 2002, amidst a barrage of negative press. Shot on video with a miniscule budget, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this hidden gem amongst the glut of below-average living dead backyard opuses. Sure, the plot is as clichéd as hell with more holes than a hunk of Swiss cheese and the acting isn't exactly Shakespearian-quality, but overall Maplewoods is a thoroughly enjoyable zombie romp. Makeup and splatter FX are above average for a film of its caliber – there's the requisite chow-down scenes of zombies tussling over slimy intestines - and the red-tinted, messy blood and gore splattered corridors of the military base are particularly atmospheric. The movie is also legitimately scary and suspenseful in parts, especially when the living dead creep up on their unsuspecting victims in the pitch black, remote grounds of the compound.

If you're looking for an entertaining movie that isn't too taxing on the brain, there are far worse ways to spend 90 minutes than watching Maplewoods!
Cinematography-wise, Maplewoods is one of the better shot on video productions I've seen, well-photographed in 2.35:1 widescreen format. The only real standout flaw is with the outdoor nighttime scenes - at times it is almost too dark to see the onscreen action.
Aside from occasional video noise, the Dolby 2.0 track sounds pretty good - music, sound effects and dialogue levels are well balanced.
Extra Features
Unless you count a scene selection menu – zilch.
The Verdict
Though it doesn't win any points for originality, Maplewoods is a fun and underrated low-budget genre entry combining the well-worn plot of military experimentation gone haywire with zombie blood and guts action.
Movie Score
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