Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, November 03, 2014

The Year of Freddy Fear is not the son of 2001 Maniacs

Welcome back to The Year of Freddy Fear, where we take a gruesome stroll down movie memory lane with the Nightmare on Elm series as well as other films starring Robert Englund.

 Our November feature is one of the latter and it's sort of suitable for Thanksgiving(if you're into cannibal dinner parties, that is) with 2001 Maniacs, a 2005 remake of a classic Hershel Gordon Lewis film originally titled 2000 Maniacs.

 For those who may not know, HGL is considered the grandfather of the gore film genre with his best known work being 1963's  Blood Feast(it's seen briefly in Serial Mom, where Beverly Sutphin appears to be a fan, much to the surprise of her son).

2000 Maniacs is actually considered the second in HGL's Blood Trilogy and believe it or not, this flick is supposed to be based on the musical Brigadoon, which is about a magical town that opens up to outsiders once every hundred years or so.

In this case, the demented residents of the southern town of Pleasant Valley allow Yankee visitors to join in their "Guts and Glory Jubilee" celebration, which celebrates the Civil War event that wiped the town off the map. At the head of the welcoming committee is Mayor Buckman(Robert Englund) who is as pleased as spiked punch to greet his "special guests", including one young man who turns out to be a fellow Southerner:

The newcomers think they're in some kind of weird theme park or reality show setting but willing to enjoy some free accommodations before heading off to Spring Break.

The wacky redneck townsfolk are way too eager to please(not to mention keeping their bigotry in check when a biracial couple stops by) and all too soon, it's clear that this festival is an intended death trap. And yes, these folks do eat what they kill.

 The goal of these grisly grinning hosts is to kill an even number of outsiders for every person that died during the Civil War massacre over 140 years ago. The phrase "an eye for an eye" comes up a lot here.

The death scenes are far from subtle, with a draw and quartering, full body skewering and this dance number where the "belle" of the bell doesn't have to ask for who the bell tolls:

You could say that 2001 Maniacs is part remake, part homage with cameos from Peter Stomare(as an irritated history professor) and director Eli Roth(playing a character from his "Cabin Fever" film), plus a ton of campy overacting.

Englund doesn't just chew the scenery, he devours it, His only true competition for that honor goes to Lin Shaye as Granny Boone, the sinister sweet hostess with one hell of a rebel yell. To be honest, I really don't care for this one; I'm no stranger to gore and politically incorrect humor but gore for gore's sake never interested me. The actors seem like they're having fun here and if you're in the mood for this kind of thing, I suppose it could be fun.

A major minus here was the difficulty of rooting for the hapless victims(other than a general wish not to see people get hurt like that). They were basically a set of walking, talking stereotypes that were just as obnoxious as the psycho hell-billies they encountered. For the most part, I was just waiting for this to be over and done with:

This movie actually got a sequel called "Field of Screams" but Englund does not return to his role as Mayor Buckman(Bill Mosely takes over the reins as Mayor Buckman in that).  Over all, I don't hate this movie but I certainly wouldn't watch it again.

For fans of old school gore, this is your particular cup of ghoulish tea and you're welcome to it, my friends. This isn't the worst movie I've ever sat through(the most recent candidate for that honor is Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie and I didn't even make it all the way to the end) but this was more of a chore than a guilty pleasure.

The Year of Freddy Fear will at least end on a high note, as we complete our run with Freddy Vs. Jason in December. In the mean time, beware of too friendly festival folks and keep an eye out for what's cooking up on the barbecue:


Thaddeus said...

It's a darn shame that this one was sucky - I feel bad whenever Englund stars in a movie that doesn't liv up t o his talents!

lady t said...

Yeah, I have to say that out of the four non-Freddy movies I watched for this series, this one was the worst(even more so than The Mangler!).

Englund did at least make his scenes amusing for all the wrong reasons. Fortunately, I have Freddy Vs. Jason coming up which should cleanse my palate considerably:)

Thaddeus said...

Sorry to jump the gun, but I found F v. J to be half good, half garbage. The director didn't care about Jason at all, and Freddy fights using a mix of wrestling and capoeira moves. I hated that they couldn't commit to an actual victor, either. But for a bunch of its running time, it did everything it needed to do, and did it reasonably well...

lady t said...

That's okay,Thaddeus, I don't mind an early take on FVJ. I've always found it to be good natured gruesome fun and while it may not be point on when it comes to cannon(something I plan to discuss concerning Jason Voorhees),there's a little more respect for the audience here than in Freddy's Dead.

New Nightmare is way more artistic in terms on a last word on Freddy but this one was clearly meant for the fans.