2001 Maniacs

Dir: Tim Sullivan
Star: Jay Gillespie, Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, Giuseppe Andrews

I'm seriously in two minds about this. My first impression was that remaking Herschell Gordon Lewis's gorefest, 2000 Maniacs, is a great idea - heaven knows, there was plenty of room for improvement. However, I'm less convinced turning it into one big joke was necessarily the way to go, and I do expect more from a remake than upping the level of snark. For make no mistake, this isn't taken the slightest bit seriously, right from the Peter Stormare cameo which opens the film [his college professor role was originally given to John Landis and David Friedman]; the over-abundant sheep-shagging jokes are a clue too. At least the story is basically the same: a bunch of Northern kids get detoured into the Southern town of Pleasant Valley, whose inhabitants are seeking retribution for Yankee Civil War atrocities, which they extract from the visitors in a variety of gory ways.

This is competent enough, and technically, is better in many ways than the original. However, while it's clear Sullivan is a fan of Lewis, he only seems to appreciate the original for its camp value, basically forgetting that, at the time, they were way past the pale of "proper" cinema. The result is something that is fun enough to watch, but doesn't really bring anything new to the party, save a sense of smug self-awareness. Englund chews the scenery as the town mayor to good effect, while Shaye is also effective as a local grandmother, but the younger players are remarkably inconsequential. The gore has its moments, and it's nice how the fates sometimes mirror the victims, but I sense the R-rating probably limited things, in a way Herschell never bothered about.

August 2006

...and they'll quake in fear to hear this rebel yell
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