2001 Maniacs (V)

Steve Adcock informed me that, “I thought that I should write and tell you that what you saw at the screening was an unfinished, work-in-progress Hi-Def tape that was electronically projected. It was not a fully timed film print,” hopefully the finished product will be better looking.

Take one part ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ one part ‘Wrong Turn,’ one part ‘Cabin Fever,’ one part ‘Deliverance’ and one part ‘Song of the South’ and mix it all together and you’ll get Tim Sullivan’s 2001 MANIACS, which was produced by ‘Cabin Fever’ direct Eli Roth.

‘2001’ is a mess of a film; but even with a terrible screenplay that’s loaded with vomit inducing one liners that would make Dee Snider’s character from ‘Strangeland’ jealous, awful cinematography and some unforgiving acting, the film was still- at times- a blast.

The film is based on Herschell Gordon Lewis’ ‘2000 Maniacs,’ where a group of kids heading off to Florida for spring break end up in a crazy town in Georgia where everyone dances, sings and has a hoot of a time like the good old days in the south- the south before the civil war. Sure Mayor Buckman (Robert Englund) seems like a fantastic chap and his wife Granny Boone (Lin Shaye) acts like the grandma you always wish you had- but it’s obvious something’s up- but what is it? As the three groups of kids get paraded around and treated like kings, one by one they are picked off. Is there a purpose behind these murders or is it just in good ol’ fun?

The positive side to ‘2001’ is something that slipped under many peoples radar and will really hurt the audience for the film is that it plays out just like a Herschell Gordon Lewis film- from start to finish- on many different levels.

Sure it was gory as all hell, but most of the blood and guts were extremely cheesy looking, which will bother most horror fans. I thought it was intentional, because it was like a Lewis film. There were some really sweet kills like one of the kids injests acid and his chest melts through the bed. Then of course his internal organs follow and pour out of his cavity all over the floor. On the other end there was a scene where a guys face explodes and it looked terrible. I personally loved the FX in the film, it was easily one of the bloodiest films I’ve seen in years, but some people might be put off with the quality- the Herschell Gordon Lewis quality.

Another thing that worked for and against the film were all the jokes. Some I thought were hilarious every single time, especially the ongoing joke with one of the redneck kids who keeps trying to f-k a sheep throughout the film. Then there were the numerous ‘Deliverance’ references, such as their own rendition of the “dueling banjoes.” But the one liners- GOD! Some of them were so painfully bad. If you’ve seen Dee Snider’s ‘Strangeland’ and heard some of the dialogue, then you know how bad it can be.

One of the saving graces of ‘2001’ is the strong cast. Robert Englund is fabulous as always, he’s got a touch of Freddy showing but he was able to make me believe he was the Mayor and nobody else. Lin Shaye, one of my favorite actresses ever, was hilarious only like she can be. She is so good at carrying a serious tone while being freakishly nice at the same time. This is easily one of her better horror performances next to ‘Dead End.’ Another person I always enjoy watching is Guiseppe Andrews (Detroit Rock City), who was also in Roth’s ‘Cabin Fever.’ He plays the suave creepy guy in ‘2001’ and once again proved he could be so much more. But as this movie continues to prove it’s 50% good and 50% bad, most of the other actors were horrendous and unbelievable.

To me the number one thing that ruined this movie was the cinematography. I don’t know if it was intentional in order to make it look like a Lewis film, but whether that’s the case or not- it destroyed everything. It’s amazing how a film like ‘Open Water’ could look more appealing than ‘2001 Maniacs,’ especially after Eli Roth’s ‘Cabin Fever’ was such a beauty. What happened here? It’s a mess and I don’t understand why! The entire movie looks exactly the same, bright and boring- like something you shot on your own while walking through the woods with a girlfriend. The only scene that looked unbelievable was the end fight sequence with Robert Englund. During the scene there are flames in the background with blackness completely surrounding them as Robert fights one of the lead teens. It looked phenomenal.

To continue further down the spiral, another major problem with the movie is its defining characteristics. What type of movie is this? At first it seems like just another crazy family, then all of a sudden one of the evil redneck girls has creepy veins cross her face- showing she’s supernatural in some sort of way. Then there’s no reference to this supernatural activity again. This is the ONLY reference to this town being demonic. So what it is man? Are you making a psycho family movie or are you making a supernatural demon flick? Pick one and stick with it- and if you want both, make sure you don’t just tease one.

Whether you end up enjoying this movie or not truly depend on what you expect and what type of horror fan you are. If you are expecting some beautifully shot expensive insane flick, maybe you don’t want to see this. But if you’re looking for something along the lines of ‘Blood Feast 2,’ like a big budget Troma film, you might get a kick out of Tim Sullivan’s ‘2001 Maniacs.’ I can pretty much guarantee you’ll only be seeing this on DVD sometime in the near future- maybe it’ll hit a few select theaters. I only hope Eli Roth’s ‘Bad Seed’ turns out better…

Official Score