A remake of the campy 1960s original "2000 Maniacs" from legendary gore filmmaker H.G. Lewis, "2001 Maniacs" is technically a better film. While Lewis was an Ed Wood-style director known for unintentional hilarity in his Grade Z drive-in romps, Sullivan's directorial debut is intentional in its campiness. Given his actors' inability to fake a quality Southern accent, it seemed he had no choice but to play the story almost completely for laughs. There is nothing scary about "2001 Maniacs," ever. But the movie never drags.
A group of frat boys on a road trip hook up with some other travelers, when all of them become stranded in a strange southern town that looks like it is celebrating a Civil War-era reenactment of the old south – even the beautiful women there have modern hairstyles. The mayor of the town, played by Robert Englund with an awful southern accent, encourages them to stay for the annual Guts and Glory Festival.
As each of the travelers is seduced away from the rest, often with the promise of sex with a townie, they are killed off one by one in creative ways, such as being squashed so their eyes pop out, etc. The killings don’t have the sick depravity of Lewis' film. Gone are the sick southern townsfolk leering silently as they peer at gore-covered bodies – an eerie element that actually made Lewis' film scary at times. But they entertain in crowd-pleasing ways.
Like the original, the town, it turns out, is populated by ghosts that trap Yanks there so they can kill them off in brutal and sadistic ways as revenge for the Civil War. H.G. Lewis' original song, "The South Will Rise Again," is used throughout, and even given the modern remix treatment toward the end of the film. The movie even opens with a quick history lesson about the Civil War.
Producer Eli Roth (director of "Hostel" and "Cabin Fever") has a small role and the unmistakable, long-bearded Johnny Legend plays a strolling minstrel.
As low-budget direct-to-video horror films go, "2001 Maniacs" is one of the best in years. It also has a nice twist ending. And it's fun to see a horror film that isn't timid about unnecessary nudity for a change. Definitely worth catching.