I’ve always been a fan of horror movies that use interesting set ups to introduce their carnage. Take the Hills have Eyes for example, it could have simply been a zombie or cannibal movie about a small town gone mad, instead they chose to explore the effects of nuclear radiation testing, a huge issue for America of the past. In a similar way the set up for 2001 Maniacs focuses on the town of Pleasant Valley, still stuck in their ways from the American Civil War, and as with The Hills Have Eyes you could say they’re still a little bitter about the way that turned out.
Entering their strange little town are three separate groups of travellers who take a detour on their way to spring break (1st mistake). Upon meeting the head of the town, Mayor Buckman, they are invited to stay for the town’s annual BBQ and after deciding it might be an excuse for some teenage action they decide to stay (2nd mistake!). Soon afterwards the teens start vanishing one by one and it becomes apparent something strange might be going on….
So far so similar to most teen horror movies, but what gives 2001 Maniacs an edge is the strange townsfolk and the eerie post 1900’s America town they inhabit. The whole set up manages to parody The Village far better than Scary Movie 4, whether intentionally or not. There’s also Robert Englund in a staring role, who you may recognise as non other than Freddy Kruger.
Once set up 2001 Maniacs plays out like your typical teen horror movie although with a few more laughs than you’d expect. It’s unashamedly blunt with its portrayals of sex and gore but in a way that’s played just for kicks. There’s no Hostel style ultra violence and dark setting here, even when major characters are killed it’s often to a brightly lit sky and smiling townsfolk, which just makes things all the stranger.
Wondering why you never saw it in the cinemas? Well the press release states it’s because it’s “so gorey that cinemas are too afraid to allow it in” but the reality is it’s a far better movie with a filled sofa and a few beers than it ever could be in the cinema. My recommendation is to sit down with a few horror movie loving friends and enjoy the deaths, each one more gory than the last.
So from trademark horror movie beginning to a climactic fire fuelled showdown 2001 Maniacs is a no-brains horror movie designed for a quick thrill, and whilst you’ll feel like it never really makes the most of its civil war setting at least you get to see someone’s insides fall out.
2001 Maniacs is available to rent now and to buy from 23rd October, just in time for Halloween!