Razor Entertainment rereleased the film in 2004 as "Dark Woods."

Reviewed by Fusion3600
DVD Authority

Story Miranda Clark (Chase Masterson) is a social worker with a lot of dedication, some people might say she is sometimes too dedicated. In this case, she is looking for a kidnapped young girl and no matter what it takes, she is unwilling to leave the case, until the truth is uncovered. She hasn't had to much success thus far, but when she hears about a strange, isolated place called Sammyville, she decides to venture there herself. This area is buried within a wooded area and it is ruled by one man, Sammy (Paul Wadleigh), as well as his ever present six shooter. But she is turned away at every attempt to go inside Sammyville, though she isn't going to surrender, not now and not ever. She soon runs into a drifter named Cam Sutherland (David Drayer), who seems to know some things about the unusual area and how to get inside the boundaries. As Miranda delves deeper inside the mysterious Sammyville, she stumbles across some dark secrets, but will the truth ever be allowed to leave this secluded, unknown area?

...Sammyville turns out to be a decent picture. The main draw is Chase Masterson, who is fun to watch and turns in a solid effort, as per usual. This movie has some good suspense, an unusual premise, and in the end, turns out to be decent.

Chase does quite well and manages to keep her chin up and deliver a solid performance. Of course, she looks fantastic and makes it a pleasure to watch her in action, but she is also a gifted performer, which she proves here. I hope to see her in more feature films soon, whether she takes a supporting role or decides to handle the lead. You can also see Masterson on TV's Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as films such as Digital Man, The Specials, Trekkies, and Sometimes They Come Back...For More. The cast also includes David Drayer, Lyle Schwartz (Dog Story, Avatar), and Paul Wadleigh (Dog Story).

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Sammyville News-Jan 5, 2000

The Film-makers completed the re-editing of "Sammyville" and will soon begin sound re-mixing -- all in preparation for the upcoming release!

Original DVD release on January 30th, 2001.

LA Times

A Frontier Town Still Standing

Lifestyle: One man's well-armed paradise is fodder for a movie.

By KIM MURPHY, Times Staff Writer

ELGIN, Ore.--It's show time at the old Elgin Opera House, and Sammy's come to town. But watch out: He's got the .30-caliber Ruger Blackhawk slung on his hip. The last time Sammy came to the opera house, the story goes, a John Wayne movie was playing. Sammy got so excited when an Indian sneaked out from behind a rock that he opened fire on the screen.

Asked to confirm the story, Sam Horrell only smiles. But the Ruger goes everywhere with him. And if you remember that fact, you will know most of what you need to know about Sammyville, Ore. Location: five miles up the road from Elgin. Population: 39. Motor vehicle count: approximately 155. Number of working vehicles: approximately three. Gun count: 150. And that's just if you're counting what Sammy packs. Everybody else likes to keep that sort of information quiet. If you know what they mean.

There probably have always been places like Sammyville: backwoods redoubts for those who prefer not having an address, shantytowns out past the end of the road with signs warning trespassers to stay out. (This one adds the words "will be shot" after "trespassers.") Folks in Elgin have always known about Sammyville, but most of them don't go out that way. And the people who live there at Sammy's place, well, they like that just fine.

Behind the big "Sammyville" sign here in northeastern Oregon is a place where the debates over gun ownership aren't much more real than the cowboys and Indians flickering across the screen at the Elgin Opera House.

Oregon legislators have already adopted some of the strictest handgun laws in the nation and are talking about tightening them even further with new background checks on sales at gun shows. But what goes on in Sammyville--an unincorporated collection of log cabins, shacks, old trailers and tents three miles back from the nearest paved road and 25 miles from the Sheriff's Department--depends on what Sammy says can go on in Sammyville.

Union County Sheriff Steve Oliver drove out recently to ask Sammy about a report that somebody was firing off a fully automatic AR-15 rifle in the woods. It was a semiautomatic, Sammy said. Then he wanted to inspect the sheriff's service rifle in the trunk and advised him on what he ought to buy. "Firing out here to the road, you need a little more oomph than a shotgun," he said. And that was the end of that particular discussion.

Fame Comes to the Backwoods

The sheriff isn't particularly fond of Sammyville and the characters it attracts. But he says he has no problem with Sammy himself, whose firearms are registered and who has a concealed weapon permit.

In fact, this grizzled 69-year-old self-appointed "governor, mayor, sheriff, postmaster, clerk and banker" of a backwoods collection of building code violations could be on his way to becoming one of Oregon's best-known citizens. Thanks to the anti-gun control petitions he and Annabelle, his mail-order bride from Pennsylvania, fire off regularly to Congress, he now gets letters back from legislators addressed, simply, "Dear Annabelle and Sam." And thanks to Hollywood, Sammyville may get another claim to fame.

"Sammyville," the movie, had its local screening earlier this month at the Opera House in Elgin, a farming town of 1,680. Not surprisingly, Sammy and two of his buddies showed up packing, and bets were that everybody in the place had a gun where they could get to it if they needed to. And "need" was loosely defined.

The film, a dark fiction about people who go into the woods and don't come out again, is a testament to the age-old role of the firearm as moral equalizer--and to the enduring unease backwoods communities inspire in urban dwellers never schooled in the laws of the forest.

"Sammyville is a magnet for people who have reasons to hide. It's been called an outlaw community, and that's not entirely wrong. It has all the best and all of the worst, and it is intrinsically American," said Christopher Hatton, the Pasadena filmmaker who directed "Sammyville" not far from where he grew up on a small farm near Elgin. "It's kind of a throwback to a frontier time. There are not many places like this anymore. It's wayward and strange, and it's not going to last forever."

The film was made on a budget of less than what it costs most Hollywood productions to run the cafeteria, thanks to free acting services from the locals and Oliver's donation of squad cars for the police scenes. It opens with a shot of a wild-haired actor playing Sammy, getting ready to fire a gun in the face of a Sammyville tenant who has done wrong. "I'm the law of Sammyville," he thunders.

Hatton framed Sammyville in the Old Testament tradition of a "city of refuge," a place where killers who had killed without evil intent could find safety but where those who had committed mortal sins would find punishment.

"If you want to call Sam a vigilante, I guess there's more than one of them up here in this canyon," said Fred Thwreatt, Sammy's oldest friend, a 300-pound bear of a man who wears a .357-caliber Magnum holstered around his considerable belly. Thwreatt, who lives on the outskirts of Sammyville, said "there are definitely people who are afraid to come out here, but I like that. The more people are scared to come out here, the less people are out here hassling me."

Community Run Like a 'City of Refuge'

A considerable number of the occupants of the ramshackle trailers, shacks and tents out at Sammyville have come there over the years because they didn't want to be found somewhere else. Sheriff's deputies make it a regular stop, serving various warrants on its inhabitants for drugs, theft, sexual assault. As often as not, Oliver phones Sammy first and the suspect of the day is produced without further comment.

"He really does run the place like a city of refuge," Hatton said. "If you need it, he'll give it to you. But if you try to take it from him, you may be in for more trouble than you realize."

"Deliverance" was the film that first brought urban America's dread of the backwoods onto the screen. More recently, "Blair Witch Project" rattled the same nerves. Hatton wanted to explore that idea--and he wanted to know what would happen if you made up a scary story about a real place, a story that wasn't true but, just possibly, might have been. Would shining the spotlight on Sammyville change it?

Before the movie, no one could have imagined that Sammy would be holding court in the Elgin Opera House, autographing poster cards from the film. Or that Annabelle would be sitting down with television news crews telling the story of how Sammy struck up a pen pal correspondence with her and lured her out to Oregon, sight unseen, to be his wife.

Still, Elgin residents could look up at the towering figure of Sammy the character on the screen, a gun thrust out in front of him, and imagine Sammy the old man holding the same gun. Everyone has a story about Sammy and his guns, not least of all Sammy himself. Mostly, he says, it's the peacekeeper in Sammyville.

He remembers one night when a dozen or so guys got to drinking and brawling. Sammy walked in to quiet things down, and one of the guys went after him. "I said, 'Friend, take one more step and I'll blow you through that wall over there,' " Sammy said. "I had a pair of Colt .45s, and I had the hammers cocked and my fingers on the trigger, and I'll tell you, I meant business, and I'll tell you, them son of a guns, they sat down and listened."

Still, it's hard to be scared of a man who calls half the population "sweetie pie," whose grin is so big his dentures half fall out of his mouth every time he talks, who punctuates half his sentences with expressions like "Holy tamoly!"

Providing for Those in Need

A devout Seventh-day Adventist, Sammy begins every meal with a prayer. Up until recently, he and Annabelle ran Elgin's community food bank out of the back of the church. The money they earn comes from rental properties in both Sammyville and Elgin. And there is very little that anyone in town might need that they couldn't get by calling up Sammy and asking if he happens to have it on hand.

His "back 40" is one of the wonders of the West. Under the trees stretching from the road out to the bottom of the canyon lies everything that Sammy has hauled out of Elgin and packed away for more than 25 years.

Upward of 150 cars--some two-thirds of which he has vague plans to repair someday in case someone might need one--lurk motionless under carpets of pine needles, their hoods open to the drizzly sky.

The hushed forest paths open onto vistas of old washing machines, oil stoves, school buses, hundreds of bicycles, lawn mowers, tractors, Army trucks, tires, sofas, mattresses.

There is a pile of lumber 5 feet high and 40 feet long that constitutes the remains of an old motel. Once, Sammy and his crew were called out to demolish the old Assembly of God church in downtown Elgin. "By the time they were done, there wasn't a screw left," one businessman said in amazement. "They just packed it up and hauled it away."

"Anybody who don't want a couch or a chair, they just bring 'em out and if we can fix it we sit on it awhile, and anybody needs a couch or a chair, we say, 'Come on down, we got one,' " Sammy explains.

Simple Abundance

Each pile of debris evokes a memory: the old VW he fixed up for a woman so she could take her kids to Moses Lake, Wash. One of the last Studebaker trucks ever built. The old Elgin school bus. The flowered couch from an old neighbor down the road. Clara's couch.

"Now that old car here is an old, old Pontiac. Way back in '37 is when that car was built. And it's got part of the engine left! I got the hood and fenders that fit that car piled up over here. I'm gonna get that running here pretty soon."

To walk through Sammyville with Sammy at your side is to stride through one small man's paradise. For a man who grew up with nothing, it is a land of abundance. There was nothing but raw beauty in the hills up above Gordon Creek when Sammy's father--a migrant handyman who earned a place to sleep for his family by doing odd jobs--built the original log cabin with his own hands, hauling huge trees down off the mountain on the back of an old mare.

But Sammyville residents worry that he will die one day and that Annabelle's kids will sell the place and that they'll all get one-way tickets back into the 20th century. Or the 21st, which, may they remind you, is coming up. And while you may not be ready, they are.

"Them computers, you know, only run to the end of 1999. If all them computers go down, the trucks can't run, the cars can't run, they can't pump no gas, the money's going to be no good, the banks'll all go broke, and they won't have a way to get food into the grocery stores. There'll be people robbing, stealing, killing, everything to get something to eat," Sammy says.

"But me, I've got a pretty good supply laid up. You come on up here if you need to."

Sammyville Soundtrack

This CD includes the following tracks:
1. Main Title
2. Cam's Journey Home
3. Cemetary
4. First Visit to Sammyville
5. In the Bar
6. Trespassing In Sammyville
7. Separation Anxiety
8. Rock Wall
9. Who's In On It?
10. Hot Springs
11. Aftermath
12. Sammy's Walk
13. We Slay Our Demons
14. Cam Has A Gun
15. Cam In Sammyville
16. I Didn't Know
17. They Made Him Watch
18. Final Scene/End Credits

Amanda discovers a clueChase Masterson stars as Miranda Clark, a social worker searching for a kidnapped child. The trail leads a mysterious town known as "Sammyville" hidden deep in the forests of Oregon. The few people who have even heard of the town warn her away from it and the enigmatic Sammy who controls his namesake.
Miranda is determined however, and joins forces with drifter Cam Sutherland. Although his motivation seems to be more oriented toward Miranda than her search for the child, his concern for her safety is genuine.

Amanda watches the sunset beyond SammyvilleEntering the alien world of shanties, trailers, and straw houses under the unchallenged law of Sammy, Miranda places her life in jeopardy as she begins to uncover secrets long buried, including Cam's connections to Sammyville.

Chase at the Screening in SAMMYVILLE

Sammyville is copyright © 1999 Back County Productions, LLC.

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