2001 Maniacs is primarily a remake of Herschall Gordon Lewis’ Two Thousand Maniacs which was originally released in 1964. 2001 Maniacs was written and directed by, then unknown director, Tim Sullivan. However, Eli Roth was the producer of 2001 Maniacs and from the shallow story, to the scenes of explicit, hedonistic sex and violence, 2001 Maniacs has Eli Roth’s fingerprints all over it.
2001 Maniacs begins like every other Eli Roth film: the story is about a group of city college students who go to a place foreign (this time it’s America’s deep south) and the viewer is left to enjoy the spectacle of the ensuing culture clash, awkward comedy and the inevitable violent deaths. Much like the plot of 2001 Maniacs follows Eli Roth’s trademark premise, the film is also a 21st century slasher flick that follows the slasher movie formula by the letter: college teens are brutally killed one by one by the crazy redneck residents of Pleasant Valley, with the sleazy characters being killed off first and the ‘purer’ characters remain to the end of the film. The story is standard slasher fare and it doesn’t offer any surprises although, despite not being written by Eli Roth, 2001 Maniacs contains his trademark cinematic hedonism. Sex, nudity, guts and gore are all on the table in 2001 Maniacs, but no matter how violent, or pornographic, the film maintains a silly and comedic tone all the way through.
The violence of 2001 Maniacs is more of the splatstick variety instead of being disturbingly realistic. The special effects are more ridiculous than the original Two Thousand Maniacs with an emphasis on each death scene being more funny than macabre. 2001 Maniacs is a horror comedy at heart, and the film contains many visual gags, funny dialogue cues and scenes of utter stupidity that keep the film from becoming too frightening to watch for the average viewer. Each scene of disgusting gore is interlaced with lewd jokes and awkward humor from nearly every character involved. In fact, the whole cast give entertaining performances as the town’s insane inhabitants giving us memorable characters such as Hucklebilly and Granny Boone.
However, Robert Englund is the main attraction of 2001 Maniacs, he gives a very funny performance as the mayor of Pleasant Valley which makes the film an utter delight to watch. Robert Englund is always entertaining in every film he appears in but I feel that he went above and beyond in 2001 Maniacs. This film proves that Robert Englund is an acting master who steals every scene he appears in, but he can also easily turn the jovially funny character to being genuinely threatening in the second half of the movie; this is something not many actors can convincingly do without the character feeling completely different. Robert Englund has gained a reputation over the years as one of the greatest actors in horror cinema, and 2001 Maniacs is a fine example of why he has been bestowed that title.
There’s not really much else I can say about 2001 Maniacs. All things considered, the film is a standard, run of the mill 21st century splatter film that stars Robert Englund. Everything else the film has to offer is generic. It’s nothing that I haven’t seen before, but that doesn’t really make 2001 Maniacs uninteresting to watch. It’s still a memorable midnight film that’s very enjoyable, but there’s not a lot that really makes the film stand out among other slasher films of the 21st century, or even among the other films of Eli Roth. In conclusion, 2001 Maniacs is a fun film to watch, but I would say that it’s far from essential viewing.