Review: “2001 Maniacs” is supposed to be a remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ “Two Thousand Maniacs”. While I have never seen that movie, the problem with “2001 Maniacs” is that it’s too predictable. .
The story follows 2 separate groups of young people who are headed to Daytona Beach Fl. for spring break. Unfortunately they come across a detour sign in the road and as any good horror fan knows, “Detour” signs always mean “danger” in a horror movie. Before they know it, both groups of teens have stumbled upon a hick town called “Pleasant Valley”, where the people albeit strange as hell, seem friendly enough. Soon another handful of young people arrive into town, a black guy named Malcolm and his asian girlfriend Kat.
The citizens of Pleasant Valley make all of the northern young folks their guests of honor and waste no time in showing a little bit of southern hospitality. But soon some of the young northern travelers begin to disappear, and it becomes evident that all may not be what it seems with the so called good folks of Pleasant Valley who behind the unsuspecting northerners backs, are planning a huge “Feast” … literally. “2001 Maniacs” offers up a good subplot which explains the towns sudden appearance out of nowhere. It seems back during the civil war a group of renegade northern soldiers wiped out the entire town of Pleasant Valley, all 2001 of it’s citizens in fact.
Now they have come back for revenge against the north, on the same day their town was desecrated all of those years ago no less, and it’s made obvious early on that these northern travelers are in for some bad times. However … it takes the travelers awhile to realize it and the question becomes, will they be able to put 2 and 2 together before it’s too late? While “2001 Maniacs” certainly delivers in the blood, gore, and overall splatterfest department … the film lacks an ora of mystery and telegraphs itself way too early. Everything happens the way you would expect it to up until the end, where a little bit of creativity is shown when the last two survivors are thrown into a fight for their lives. The kills are rather creative but you can pretty much figure out who’s going to die and in what order which further enhances this films predictable nature. The people of Pleasant Valley themselves are an annoying bunch, even the very attractive girls in the town are painful to watch when they start talking.
The southern stereotypes from bestiality jokes, incest jokes, and just overall southerners being disturbingly odd jokes are all over the place in this movie. And that’s what kills most of the fun. It would’ve been a nice change of pace to have the folks of Pleasant Valley differ in persona rather than having each one act the same as the other. The teens of the movie are portrayed a little bit better. While we get the usual group of guys out to get laid, we also get a guy with two female friends who has a huge twist applied to his character later in the movie. You’ll have to see it for yourself but take my word for it it’s pretty funny, and we get the interracial couple in which the black guy is a biker and digs Led Zepplin … which pretty much is the ultimate in creating an outside the box character.
Robert Englund gives a good performance as Mayor Buckman of Pleasant Valley which is rivaled only by Lin Shaye as Granny Boone. But even the two of them can’t fully make up for the rest of the actors who portrayed Pleasant Valley citizens in a very subpar manner. “2001 Maniacs” does have it’s good points also, and director Tim Sullivan who also co-wrote the film with penner Chris Kobin – really knew how to make this a “horror movie”. No annoying cut aways or shortening of scenes to avoid showing too much blood on screen. No We get the full deal here which includes body crushing, mutilations, eyeballs popping out of their sockets, death by acid, and two others kills which are even more twisted than those I just mentioned. I just wish they had surrounded all of this great blood, gore, and mayhem with some better villains.
While I thought Englund was a great villain as Mayor Buckman, the other baddies were either portrayed by bad actors or were just too annoying to be cool villains. Now you could say because I’m a northern guy I don’t connect with the whole southern persona thing, which is why I didn’t care for most of the villain characters. But on the flipside of that I thought the Firefly clan in “House of 1000 Corpses” which was yet another psycho redneck flick, were awesome villains. But they were much more hardcore than the Pleasant Valley folk, who came off to me as just a little bit too cornball and not serious enough to make them good villains.
Pros: Creative kills, blood and gore abound, the northern travelers were likeable for the most part. The films final act which includes a showdown between the two survivors and Mayor Buckman and the citizens of Pleasant Valley was awesome. Lin Shaye gives a good performance as Granny Boone despite limited screen time.
Cons: With the exception of Robert Englund as Mayor Buckman The villains weren’t badass enough, and like I stated in the review everything is spelled out to the viewer too quickly as to what will happen to these kids and how. I also did not like the ending and the chain of events which lead up to the films final ending left me shaking my head.
Overall: Average horror movie that has a few items which save it from being a total waste of time. Worth a rental when it hits dvd March 28th.