2001 Maniacs (V)

release date March 28 2006
studio Lionsgate
director Tim Sullivan
writer Chris Kobin, Tim Sullivan
starring Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, Giuseppe Andrews, Jay Gillespie, Marla Malcolm, Wendy Kremer and Christa Campbell
trailer 1 Trailer #1

2001 Maniacs (V)

I’m hard pressed to remember the first time I saw Herschell Gordon Lewis’ original Two Thousand Maniacs, although I can clearly remember the catalyst for searching it out. Back in 1993, a friend had gotten me a used copy of John Waters’ epic tome Shock Value. At the time, I was a huge John Waters and Russ Meyer freak. Near the end of the book, Waters took 2 chapters to dedicate to his heroes, the first was Meyer and the second was H.G. Lewis. This fleeting glance into the mind of the culturally appointed Godfather of Gore was enough to set my mind scurrying about as to how to find these grindhouse classics. It was a few years later that I finally secured a copy of Blood Feast and sometime later when I saw Color Me Blood Red and the aforementioned tale of the mysterious town of southern madmen. Lewis’ vision holds up remarkably well. I re-watched Two Thousand Maniacs not more than a year ago, seemingly amazed how contemporary the film still felt. With that credible source material Director Tim Sullivan has refashioned Lewis’ bloody romp into a razor sharp neo-classic retelling of Brigadoon run amuck.

A group of college miscreants are headed to Daytona Beach for a week of Spring Break debauchery. Along the way they are lured into the mysterious ghost town of Pleasant Valley, Georgia to stand as guests of honor for the towns annual celebration and feast, only Pleasant Valley is not as pleasant as it seems as the townsfolk plan to dine on their Yankee guests.

The skeleton of Lewis’ seminal classic remains intact, infused with a cynical new millennium intelligence and amped up splatter effects. The addition of an African-American Motorcyclist and his Asian dominatrix girlfriend to the mix lend keenly to moments of sheer laugh out loud humor, as the town of Civil War era ghosts and their Old South sensibilities struggle to maintain some level of hospitality toward them. Sullivan and co-writer Chris Kobin leave no stone unturned as they skew lesbianism, incest, bestiality, cannibalism, racism and homophobia in what seems like a calculated tactic to give the conservative members of the MPAA a collective heart attack. This Mason-Dixon Line gumbo of every conceivable taboo subject could have ended up as nothing more than a patchwork quilt of scenes slapped together for no other purpose than their mutual shock value, but the thread of black comedy that holds the film together makes 2001 Maniacs a coherent and campy orgy of blood, breasts and bogeymen, guaranteed to insight some serious laughter and surprising shake ups amongst the viewing audience.

In the La La Land of remakes, the Hollywood machine has been castrating the original grindhouse classics and repopulating them with this weeks hottest teen sensation. While 2001 Maniacs sports a cast of mostly T.V. quality actors, the film, made outside the system and produced by horror flavor-of-the-month Eli Roth offers a much more visceral and wholly less politically correct package than the latest Michael Bay produced box office bastardization. So, if we must see a classic splatter flick reintroduced or reimagined for the attention deficient next generation, at least we should be grateful that Sullivan, Kobin and Roth haven’t pulled any punches with their guts and gory homage to the original master of the maniacs.

Lionsgate has really pulled out all the stops on this DVD release, offering up their own bloody feast for the fanboy in all of us. The Special Edition DVD sates our whetted palates with Deleted/Extended scenes and outtakes, and Alternate Opening sequence, Audition Reels and a six part making-of featurette. The disc also includes two audio commentary tracks featuring co-writer/director Tim Sullivan, the first with Robert Englund and the second with co-writer Chris Kobin and producer Chris Tuffin. All in all, this is they type of loving attention to detail that should be given to all of Lionsgate’s quality releases, ahem… Saw II, anyone.

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