(This review was originally published in September 2007.)
The long-awaited remake of Two Thousand Maniacs finally hit the video shelves this evening, and just seeing Robert Englund on the cover with a rebel flag eye patch is enough to let you know that it's going to be really cheesy…and we just wouldn't have it any other way.
But before I get into my actual review, I have a promise to keep. My dear brother, who has been waiting for this film to come out for the better part of two years now, ran into a bit of a problem getting a hold of it this evening at his local video stores and told me I had to answer this one question: Is it worth $28.00 plus shipping? The answer, unfortunately, is no.
This isn't to say that it's a bad movie in a bad way. In fact, it appears they worked extra-hard to make it a bad movie in a good way. (I even thought about subtitling this review "2001 Bad Jokes".) But in my opinion, it just doesn't quite live up to the hype.
Okay bro, you can stop reading now. Spoilers ahead….
The first thing I'll say is that the film has a few Easter Eggs for fans of the genre, including a special appearance by Mr. Roth and Dr. Mambo. It's no surprise that Roth also had a hand in the production, as did the man who never sleeps – Greg Nicotero as makeup effect supervisor. (Can anyone name a horror movie that he hasn't had something to do with recently???)
We start off with the normal college student antics, meeting most of those lucky kids that will literally become mincemeat before Robert Englund goes into bad quip overkill. Heading towards Daytona Beach for Spring Break, our Northern-born students take a detour that lands them smack in the middle of an old Southern town complete with toothless women, smooth-talking gentlemen, kissing cousins, nervous sheep, and every other Confederate State stereotype you can imagine.
Animal lovers may get a bit uneasy during some scenes, as the film painfully reminds us that some children just shouldn't be allowed to have pets.
We soon come to find out that small animals are not the only things that these townsfolk enjoy torturing. One by one the students are lured away from their companions as the town prepares for the big barbecue that is mentioned no less than thirty times during the film. Many of the grisly death scenes are pretty loyal updates to those in the original, and the scenes are intentionally grossly campy. Although I will admit that I was a bit disappointed that my favorite method of disposing of Yankees in the original was not included in this remake. But what they did do to the victim that I thought would wind up in a barrel made up for it.
Perhaps the biggest difference of this film from the original is the inclusion of lots of sexual activity – and not being particularly discriminating about it at that. It's amusing to watch a film where the lady of the house scolds someone for swearing at the dinner table while her husband instructed his son to accommodate the homosexual of the group. And I thought it was awfully nice of them to provide a last hurrah for their guests before commencing with the slaughter… I suppose that's Southern hospitality for you.
All in all, it is a fun movie to watch, but not something you want to spend a fortune to see. Considering the better-known names involved in the production, it's certainly not their best work – but good for a few laughs nonetheless.
Englund's portrayal of the town's mayor is exactly how you would imagine him to play it – over-the-top and stuffed with more cheese than a six-foot manicotti.
Film information: 2001 Maniacs