I love cheap Horror. I even love it when I know it's awful.
Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman, Amando de Ossorio, John de Bello: these are directors whose movies mean a lot to me, even though I'd be the first to admit, the movies are crap.
It is, what Robert England has called, "disposable fun".
Except I've bought that disposable fun. I've even searched for and paid good money for films by William Malone. In fact, a part of me still hopes that Malone will yet again, display the talent he brought to his remake of THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL.
Writer/Director, Tim Sullivan is a big Herschell Gordon Lewis fan. Herschell, who at this writing, is alive and well and writes books on Direct Mail Marketing, might very well be proud that fanboys like Tim are around to recreate his films for a whole new audience.
2001 MANIACS is a ramshackle blend of modern teen horror and hardcore 1960s style gore movies. The 1960s were a lot harder in their hardcore due to the fact that they could push the envelope to the tearing point and nobody was around to stop them - because nobody thought anyone would go that far. It's because of Lewis that a rating system even exists.
Tim Sullivan and co-writer Chris Kobin attack this remake with gusto and fun. The film begins with a sillyass classroom of college kids doing stupid things, real "blah" beginning which would suck if it wasn't for the intimidating, ominous presence of their history teacher, Professor Ackerman, played by Peter Stormare (FARGO, THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, 8MM, MINORITY REPORT).
Threats by the prof. matter not a whit, it's time for Spring Break! Our boys, Anderson Lee (Jay Gillespie), Nelson (Dylan Edrington), and Cory (Matthew Carey: CREATURE [TV]) are on the road and on their way until they get involved in a little roadkill reminiscent of CABIN FEVER. Then Producer Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER, HOSTEL) shows up with his dog, reminiscent of CABIN FEVER, and, well, you get the idea. This movie is about Sex, Gore, Jokes and fun. Tim Sullivan admits that it's not brain surgery folks.
The boys stop at a gas station where they meet up with some folks their own age, who are far more jaded and sexually predatory.
The next thing you know, they all have taken a short cut -
SO the wrong thing to do in a horror movie
- and then compound that error by obeying a very suspicious road sign marked "Detour" that leads to a muddy backwoods unpaved road
- SO VERY MUCH the wrong thing to do in a Horror movie. In fact, if you've ever wondered why someone would do something stupid in a Horror movie, let me explain it simply. Most people don't realize that they are in a Horror movie until something really bad happens to them. So tonight, when you are in your house or apartment and hear a funny sound in the next room, remember, as you investigate the noise, that you just might be walking into a future Horror Movie! Heh! Heh! Heh!
I'm shamefully digressing! The boys drive into the quaint town of Pleasentville where the townsfolks come out to welcome them as Guests of Honor to their Guts & Glory Jubilee.
The townsfolk, led by Mayor Buckman (Robert Englund: DEAD & BURIED, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, STRANGELAND, PYTHON, and way more), are a bit pushy, but the promise of sex by the local girls are enough to convince our trio.
And then more tourists show up. And then more.
Next thing you know, one of the tourist girls takes off down to the lake with one of the local boys, and Merry mishaps occur.
Non-horror fans are not going to like this, and may very well deride this, because they won't pick up on the hammer heavy signs clearly showing that 2001 MANIACS is Horror movie fun. It's not meant to scare - in fact, there are several moments where something scary could have happened, but that's not what Tim had in mind. Tim wanted goofy gory fun.
If this movie has any depth, then it would be that Tim wanted to stay on point: Herschell Gordon Lewis' original psychology of having sex = death.
This film deserves its direct to video stature, yet, at the same time, is far and away better than a lot of direct to video movies that are made these days.
Somewhere in between a theatrical release, which often features crap, and a direct to DVD release, which often features crap, rests a So Bad Its Good movie like 2001 MANIACS - although you may have to dig through a bloody corpse to get it.
If you're a horror fan who enjoys watching Horror movies BY Horror movie fans, 2001 MANIACS is it!
Four Negative Shriek Girls
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