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2001 Maniacs (2005): Actually Slightly Better than the Original

2001 Maniacs (Tim Sullivan, 2005)

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Yeeeeeeeeeha! Oh the South’s gonna rise…again!

2001 Maniacs, which despite is name pointing to it being a sequel is actually a remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ microbudget 1964 gore-film classic Two Thousand Maniacs!, actually does have a few moments of genuine, albeit mean-spirited, comedy. In other words, I don’t seem to hate it quite as much as most people who pour bile over it on the IMDB boards do. Which still doesn’t make it timeless cinema, to be sure, but I don’t think you will feel you’ve completely wasted the hour and a half (the way you would with something like Vile or Train, for example).

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“Well, think about it this way… at least the black guy didn’t die first, for once!”

Plot: after a useless (and you know it’s useless) intro that seems to exist only to give Peter Stormare a cameo, a trio of dunderheaded college students head off for spring break—Anderson (Hellraiser: Revelations‘ Jay Gillespie), Cory (Old School‘s Matthew Carey), and Nelson (Raspberry and Lavender‘s Dylan Edrington). On the way down, they stop at an out-of-the-way gas station and bump into the impossibly beautiful Kat (Little Athens‘ Gina Marie Heekin) and Joey (The Watch‘s Marla Malcolm), heading the same way with Ricky (Sorority Boys‘ Brian Gross). Nelson and Joey make plans to get together in Daytona Beach, little knowing that neither car is going to make it there—they follow a detour and end up in the small Southern town of Pleasant Valley, run by genial Mayor Buckman (Robert Englund), who seems to take “the South’s gonna rise again” just a little too seriously. Things get tense when another pair on a motorcycle follow the detour—Malcolm (Conspiracy Theory‘s Mushond Lee), an African-American, and his Chinese girlfriend Leah (Amazing Race contestant Bianca Smith). Mayor Buckman invites the motley crew to stick around for their annual jamboree, which culminates in a massive barbecue; while most of them are apprehensive, Anderson—the only one of the bunch born in the south (he is, he mentions to the mayor, South Carolina born and bred)—convinces the group that his upbringing in the Suthun niceties will get them all through and out the other side. It should not be a spoiler to say that this is not, in fact, the case.

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These two guys? Best thing about this movie by a country mile.

It’s dumb, but come on, the original was dumb, too, so you can’t really dock points for that. And like I said, the movie does have some moments of genuine comedy (the semi-running gag with the town minstrels [played by producer Scott Spiegel and actual rockabilly singer Johnny Legend] following Malcolm around and serenading him culminates with the movie’s best punchline—a complete anachronism, but so’s most of the second half of the soundtrack). On the other hand, well, the original was dumb, so why are you remaking it in the first place? It’s stupid and predictable, but reasonably well-made, amps up the gore and T&A factors from the original (Lewis, of course, was pushing envelopes, while Sullivan is simply pandering to the crowd), and has reasonable performances from the principals especially Englund and female lead Lin Shaye (Insidious); if you have nothing better to do on a Saturday night, this isn’t the worst thing you could dial up on Netflix. * ½

WARNING: Trailer contains spoilers for the film.

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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