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CampBlood Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy

 

2001 Maniacs Tim Sullivan 2005

The South Shall Rise Again

A decidedly mixed bag of a horror/comedy, Tim Sullivan’s remake/sequel of H. G. Lewis’s campy gorefest Two Thousand Maniacs! has a lot going for it – unfortunately, no one bothered to introduce any of the “lots” to one another while the film was being made. Choppy, plotless, and seemingly endless thanks to the lack of an actual script, the film is barely rescued from the dollar bin by some decent gore, some amusing character performances, and a heapin’ helpin’ of random, equal-opportunity sex and nudity. And really, when’s the last time we were treated with a cute bareassed college guy dry-humping his mattress in a horror movie? Exactly.

2001 Maniacs follows a bunch of garden-variety asshole-flavored Yankees as they meet their fantastic demises at the hands of a small town of bloodthirsty cannibal loons who could be Civil War recreationists, could be ghosts or zombies, or could be Republican (my money’s on the latter). Led by Alpha Maniac Robert Englund – who is actually nicely over-the-top as the sadistic Mayor of Pleasant Valley – the other 2000 maniacs basically just lounge around and look Civil War-ish until it comes time to enact another preposterously elaborate setpiece murder. And while it’s easy to peg the “lead” Yanks from the start (one actually isn’t a Yank but moved north for school, which makes him guilty by association), the flick has a rather refreshingly arbitrary attitude to pretty much everything, be it race, sex, sexual orientation, birthplace, or I.Q. Basically, this movie’s out to disgust just about everyone.

And while it might not be as disturbing or radical as it may think it is, it at least gives it a Boy Scout try. First, we’ve got some fast-flying and decent gore that does a decent job of approximating Lewis’s protracted, loony-tunes style of splatter. From the first orgasmic limb-popping drawing-and-quartering scene to the later eye-popping cotton press scene to the various acid-poisonings, oral castrations, crushings, and beheadings that fill in the rest, it’s got a high red count and some fairly impactful kills. I think the horse-driven quartering was my favorite, though – the fact that they actually got the poor girl’s body off the ground with the tension of the ropes was a nice, realistic touch. I just re-read that sentence and I’m scared to ever look in a mirror again.

But aside from the occasional blood and lots of boobies, I really can’t see that much here for your average viewer to get involved in – and I imagine it’s a pretty dull watch, overall. But we aren’t the average viewer – are we, kids? No, we’re pervy, bloodthirsty sissies hell-bent for gore, over-the-top camp, and naked male asses. And for us, 2001 Maniacs is of particular interest.

First and foremost, there’s a bisexual male character, Ricky (Brian Gross) who chats freely about porking other fellas at the dinner table, much to the distress of Granny Boone (the always-preposterous Lin Shaye, best know for her work as jerky-treat neighbor Magda in There’s Something About Mary, although I prefer her work in the tiny indie horror flick Dead End). But they don’t stop there – as a means of keeping the Yanks in town overnight, Mayor Buckman throws one of his very own sons into Ricky’s bed to keep his filthy appetite sated. Oddly, the son is more than happy to “cornhole” the Yank, but he’s in for a surprise when he loses an armwrestling match to Ricky and is delegated to “catcher” instead of “pitcher”. In the ensuing “sex montage”, we see the various couples getting it on, and while the two fellas have more of a foreplay roundelay than an actual gay scene (Ricky makes the guy strip to his longjohns and do push-ups), it’s still far more overt a gay scene than I think I’ve ever seen in an otherwise mainstream horror flick. The next day the bumpkin is limping, thanks to an apparently monumental ass-punishing from Ricky, but of course Ricky then gets his just desserts when the townsfolk hold him down and shove a spear up his ass and out his mouth, spit-pig style.

Now, ordinarily I might get upset about the fact that a gay character meets his demise by literally getting butt-fucked to death. But here there’s no real point arguing it – I mean, in the next scene the black character gets killed in a cotton press, a none-too subtle slave reference. The fact that these loons are getting rid of the “filthy Yanks” that violate their rules and way of living (which is stuck in Civil War times, remember) makes sense, I guess – although the fact that the audience at the screening I saw cheered when the fag got his kitty punched with a javelin didn’t exactly make me feel too comfortable about the message that this scene sends. And did I mention that Raw Nerve produced this film? Yes, yet again Eli Roth is out there sending mixed messages about homosexuality and wiping bloody asses with the rainbow flag (see Hostel for another example, and consider seeing Cabin Fever, but then think better of it); Roth even makes a cameo as a hitchhiker with a dead armadillo (no, that’s not a euphemism). Frat humor mixed with oddly-developed gay characters and themes? Seems to be Roth’s M.O. – Color Me Bi-Curious? And while I don’t want to hypothesize about the personal motives of writer/director Tim Sullivan, let’s just say that the awkward, “aw, shucks – my strapping straight son is gonna have to pork a sissy for the good of the town” farmboy-flipfuck fantasy and subsequent anal retribution just REEKS of self-punishing gay male fantasy, or my name’s not Doctor Sigmund Fucking Freud. Sure, it’s kind of hot – but it’s also ashamed of it. But at least the crotchpony noses out of the gate and breathes a little before the cleaver chops it off (figuratively speaking), which is certainly more than we usually get, so it gets my thumbs-up.

And speaking of thumbs-up, there’s also a delicious display of male rumpery that’s a sight for sore eyes in a flick about Georgia where the only peaches are the oft-displayed knockers of the nubile female cast. Class clown/perv Nelson (former A&F model Dylan Edrington), unable to score with any of the local ladies, retires to his room, where he drops his boxer briefs and makes sweet love to his mattress in a loving, lingering voyeuristic shot. When a hot milkmaid comes to his window, he hops around with his undies around his knees and even gives a near-full frontal when he turns to face the mammary miss. Pretty hot stuff for a tits-and-blood flick, I dare say – and Edrington’s buttery little buns definitely live up to what their performance requires. Otherwise the servicable-yet-generic cast goes through the motions as expected, although there's an early appearance from Peter Stormare that still has me scratching my head -- he went from Lars Von Trier to this to those nutty VW commercials? Stop the world, I wanna get off.

But that’s enough dirty-old-man talk for me – hey – when the flick’s about boning a mattress and getting a spear shoved up your ass, attention must be paid, alright? These more sensational elements elevate an otherwise standard schlocker above its material, and make Maniacs a harmless but fairly enjoyable watch. Now, if you’re a big fan of the original – which I am – you may not appreciate the fratting-down of the loony, manic source material -- but this is certainly more entertaining that your usual direct-to-video horror fare. Think of a gayer Amityville remake (if that’s even possible) with more skin and a ton more blood, and you’ve got it.

Rating (out of 5):