5 December 2008 | cchase
This Is What The Monkees Meant By A "Pleasant Valley Sunday"...NOT!
Let this be a warning to you right off the bat, dear reader and horror fan: if you have the kind of 'political correctness' meter that sounds the alarm at fart jokes, you will want to stay VERY FAR AWAY from the likes of 2001 MANIACS. If you're a hardier horror buff who likes your flicks to follow the "Triple-B" Rule, (Babes, Boobs and Blood), then YEEEE-HAAAW, Bubba! Y'all jest struck GOLD! There's more swingin' jugs and spurtin' jugulars here than you'd find everywhere else, plus the 'bestest 'finger-lickin' good' barbecue this side of a Texas Chainsaw Family Reunion!
If you know your horror history, you know that 2001 MANIACS is the lovingly-rendered redo of the gore-tastic Herschell Gordon Lewis' signature grue-fest 2000 MANIACS, here given the full-tilt millennium 'makeover.'
The good-humored ghouls of Pleasant Valley, GA. (population: well - look at the title, genius!) are 'DIED-in-the-wool' Southerners who don't take too kindly to stray Yankees who trespass on their turf. It probably doesn't help that over 200 years ago, every inhabitant was slaughtered by Sherman's army as he and his men raped, razed and rip- snorted their way through to HOTLanta. So their vengeful, zombiefied ghosts return each year for a little payback. A fake detour sign misdirects unwitting travelers to Pleasant Valley, where every day is the celebration of the "Guts And Glory Jubilee", and the lost tourists are always the 'guests of honor' at the Jubilee barbecue...where they also do double-duty as THE MAIN COURSE!!! But in-between those two plot points, seduction and slaughter of every imaginable kind abounds.
This time, eight friends who are classmates from the same college are on their way to Daytona Beach for Spring Break...and all the babes, booze and beer they can handle! Thanks to a wayward short cut that gets them lost, and that rigged "detour" sign that points them right into the heart of Pleasant Valley, there's one element they can add to that list - BLOOD - as in their own!!!
Once the kids hit town, it would take a moron not to figure out that there is something unpleasantly weird about these grinning, welcoming, backwoods "hell-billys" (led by a gleefully demented Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund.) But then for college students, none of these guys (or girls) are particularly the brightest light-bulbs in the pack.
What they are, are the soon-to-be 'entrées'...er, I mean 'guests of honor' welcomed to the Valley by the overly friendly Mayor Buckman (Englund), who are at first as charmed as they are freaked at this little backwater burg, where they seem to take dedication to the whole "Civil-War era reenactment" thing a little too seriously. Of course, they learn all too late...it's NOT an act.
Director Tim Sullivan, scripting here with co-writer Chris Kobin, knows that 'Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun' - and that includes the audience. Those movie watchers who would be profoundly outraged and insulted by 2001 MANIACS probably wouldn't (and shouldn't) be renting or going out to see this anyway. For the rest of us...well, we know what we want and what we like to see in our horror films, and thankfully, Tim provides it in abundance! Not content to merely rehash the Lewis original, he surprises with hysterical references to other movies, while keeping the action going and the blood flowing! (Think of a couple of scenes here as DELIVERANCE by way of AIRPLANE!, and you get the tone of it!)
The death scenes, if not completely original in some ways, are still delivered with gruesome effectiveness, and there is a nice "Tales From The Crypt"-style ending to wrap it neatly with a pretty, dripping-red bow.
Oh, and BTW, did I mention that this is unofficially a 'musical'? That's right, gore-hounds! A couple of ZZ Top-types, (just with banjos and 'sharp-dressed men' for the 1700's) deliver some spicy song commentary on the action! But thankfully, the ditties are inserted in a way that is terrific and not tiresome.
All in all, for an evening of blood and boobs, you might think you can do better than 2001 MANIACS, but that's debatable. I know you can do worse! And I have - trust me.