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Series 7: The Contenders (2001)

R  |   |  Comedy, Thriller  |  25 May 2001 (Italy)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 5,737 users   Metascore: 55/100
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A TV program selects people at random to kill one another for fame and their freedom.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Woodbury ...
Dairy Mart Clerk
Michael Kaycheck ...
Richard Venture ...
Angelina Phillips ...
Dawn's Cameraman
Nada Despotovich ...
Stephen Michael Rinaldi ...
Alex Yershov ...
Joseph Barrett ...


Ever seen the show "Survivor" and wished they would just start killing each other?? Series 7 literally gives its contestants the guns. The film is not merely a satire on reality TV. It is an example of just how far people will shamelessly go for fame. 6 contenders are pitted against each other in a no holds barred, kill or be killed contest. The reigning champ is Dawn, a hard-nosed, mother-to-be. We go back and forth between Dawn and the other 5 contenders to see if someone can dethrone Dawn and become the new Champion. What is the prize? How are the contestants picked? These questions are not as important as asking yourself how shameless has our society become? Written by Jeff Mellinger <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Too shocking for TV - See it only in cinemas. See more »


Comedy | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violent content and language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

25 May 2001 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Series 7  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$28,844 (USA) (2 March 2001)


£203,244 (UK) (8 June 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Writer/Director Daniel Minahan's childhood friend, Dawn Lagarto, is given a "Special Thanks" credit. He originally wrote the story using her name for the main character. When it came time to start filming the producers had legal concerns regarding the use of a real person's name, but actress Brooke Smith felt an affinity for the name and wanted to retain it for her character. Minahan called the real Dawn Lagarto and got her blessing to use the name. The real Dawn Lagarto is not an unwed mother, has never participated in a reality TV series, and has never killed anyone. See more »


The truck Tony drives off with the baby in is a Ford Ranger (a mid-size truck). The stock footage of a chase from a helicopter shows a truck that is supposed to be Tony's, but is now a full-sized Chevy. Back in the close-ups, it's a Ford Ranger again. See more »


Jeff: I've got nothing to live for, but I don't wanna die.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the title credits, a warning appears "Due to the graphic nature of this program, viewer discretion is advised." See more »


References Bloody Mama (1970) See more »


Written and Performed by Eli Janney and Julie Stepanek
Published by Action Collar Music/EMI/Blackwood Music/BMI
Copyright 2000 Geffen Records;
Girls Against Boys appears courtesy of Geffen Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Effective and sick satire, but not exactly for everyone
6 September 2010 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Series 7: The Contenders, is a very twisted black comedy about six contestants on a reality show. The premise of the reality show is that the contestants are given weapons and have to murder each other in order to win. The contestants include a mentally insane man living in a trailer park, a cancer patient, a religious nurse, a high school teenager, a middle-aged father, and (the reigning champion) a pregnant woman. The film is structured as a marathon showing and is played as a series of episodes strung together each following these contestants. The film depicts these people as normal and everyday people who are forced into this terrible situation against their will, but the real meat of the film comes in when we get to learn about the histories of some of these characters. That's the point of the film where the film grows out of being a spoof of reality shows and begins to manifest into a social commentary. The high school teenager has parents who encourage her every step of the way and help her suit up for the murders that she is about to commit. The pregnant woman has been disowned by her own mother due to past incidents. The middle-aged parent has his own troubles at home. There's a lot more going on here than at first glance. This is an angry and dark satire that really challenges some of the concepts of reality and the satire of itself.

There's a lot here that I truly admire. For starters, the performances. They are pretty awful in a way that, at times, seems cringe-worthy. However, when you take a look at reality television shows such as Survivor and The Real World, the acting in those is even worse. It's supposed to be reality, yet the people in them are not believable. That's what makes reality television such a joke, and so in a roundabout way of saying things the performances here are good because the actors are good at capturing the melodramatic mannerisms of the contestants at large. I particularly enjoyed the performance of Brooke Smith as the pregnant woman. She is ridiculously cold and cruel and monstrous, and you can really feel the bitterness that she feels. Yet her mannerisms are so sarcastic and almost pathetic. The same goes for the rest of the cast, but Smith has a visual presence to her that I've always admired. She's a terrific actress. Nobody can forget her performance as the kidnapped victim in The Silence of the Lambs. I've seen some of her television work as well and she almost always sticks out in a good way. Merritt Wever and Glenn Fitzgerald do an equally good job as the teenage girl and the cancer patient, the former being the most likable person in the cast and the latter having all of the best lines and being the most interesting of all the characters.

My favorite thing about this film, however, has to be the momentum of it. Series 7: The Contenders is almost never boring and there's always something going on. It's virtually impossible to stop watching once you've started, even if you pick up in the middle of it. I think this was done intentionally. I think a lot of televisions shows have that same kind of watchability factor, and what I appreciated the most about this film is that there were no commercials that cut into the action. The satire of the film itself is simple and clever, but even if you put all that aside, you still have one hell of a captivating film. Putting the climax of the film aside, you do get to care about almost all these characters and you don't particularly want to see any of them die really.

If you want my personal opinion on the film, I cannot say that I like it too much. I don't personally find the film itself to be very funny. I like dark humor, but I thought that this was too sick, really, to be funny. I also really don't like the ending. It felt like I was being beaten over the head by the satire. I also find that the film itself isn't exactly re-watchable. Once you know how it all ends, you really don't have any desire to ever really sit down and watch it. There are films out there that are sick and that you never really WANT to watch again, but at the same time you feel you should and can't help but feel the need to sit through it, but Series 7: The Contenders plays all of it's cards in one sitting and as a result you really don't feel any desire to absorb any of it. It's more the type of film that you just appreciate rather than like and enjoy. I can imagine a lot of horror fan and readers of Fangoria would love it to pieces or at least get a huge kick out of watching it. In my opinion, as brilliant and as clever as it is, I definitely wouldn't advise mainstream moviegoers to watch this. I thought it was a brilliantly directed film in a lot of ways, and the satire was effective, but I can't exactly recommend it. I'm glad I saw it though.

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was the lottery to go on the contenders meant to be completely random? emilemile
Alternate Ending wudevious-1
Does any1 else think the ending sucked? simonkay2003
Most memorable scene? Lichtje
Unoriginal and I can prove it. fdashv
DVD/Video availability aussiemiguel
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