The remake of this 1960s Horror classic does itself a few favors by taking the film in a decidedly humorous and tongue in cheek direction. Of course, this sabotages some of the more serious and scary elements of the film, but overall it makes "2001 Maniacs" a rather fun and campy ride into Horror schlock territory. This is a movie to be taken with some salt and ingested quickly, but it was fun while it lasted.
Although spring break is going into full swing, a group of young men and some other folk find themselves taking an odd detour on their way to Daytona beach. This detour leads them to Pleasant Valley, an old throwback town to the civil war era of the south, where they are greeted by the somewhat sleazy mayor Buckman (Englund) and invited to stay for a party and barbecue. They hesitantly stay (until the local women seem almost too inviting) and suddenly find out that they are slowly being separated and slaughtered to BE the BBQ. Not only do these young college kids have to find their way out, but they may have to get to the bottom of a legend a century in the making.
Now slashers aren't all that unique to begin with and having a remake of a cult classic doesn't add much to that either, but give Tim Sullivan some credit here, because he makes "2001 Maniacs" a rather fun and campy time. With all the cliche's of the slasher genre firmly planted into its storytelling and presentation, its no wonder that this one has already found its own cult following. This remake is chock full of gore, clever deaths (including some nice ones that are based on era like death by a cotton press), and plenty of gratuitous nudity. Not that I'm a prude by any means, but sometimes it felt to even be a little much. There is some pretty random scenes of sex towards the middle of the film that almost took the film into a soft core porn territory. Not that its all that unusual for a slasher to have some of it, but it even made me feel a little odd, forewarning.
Although this movie is quite a bit of fun with its silly dialogue, cliche characters, and over the top approach to the subject matter, it still doesn't quite reach the balance that it could have. I wanted the scary parts to be scarier and some of the atmosphere to get heavy occasionally so that it would be able alleviate some of the silliness, but that never happens in any consistent form. It does however get better towards the end with the fiery showdown (that actually shows us that Tim Sullivan can make for some exciting visual and tense moments) but it needed these moments earlier and more often.
"2001 Maniacs" does a nice job though getting that Horror Comedy formula down, but suffers from sticking to it too much. With some slightly better balancing of the scary and the humor this could have been an instant modern classic (although it already seemingly carries that title), but take this film with a grain of salt and a steady hand and its sure to be a fun watch for genre fans.
BONUS PRAISE: Eli Roth makes a random appearance towards the beginning of the film reprising his role from his own Horror/Comedy "Cabin Fever". Make note of this and enjoy this little moment that was obviously thrown in there for Horror fans and those of "Cabin Fever".
Written By Matt Reifschneider