2001 Maniacs (Script)

Written by Chris Kobin and Tim Sullivan

The South will rise again! So I’ve been told. Call me a nut, but I’ve never seen the “blood trilogy” from director Herschell Gordon Lewis…until now. Recently, I checked out 2000 Maniacs on DVD and since this isn’t a review for the film, I’ll keep my opinion short. Don’t expect much from the 80-minute flick except some pretty gruesome deaths (with vibrant red blood) and lots of boring “padding” between the kills. The film takes place in the southern town of Pleasant Valley (pop. 2000) where the local rednecks throw a huge celebration. Two sneaky locals guide traveling, unsuspecting “Yankees” to the town as guests of honor. “We weren’t waiting for you!” the Mayor tells his guests before the celebration. “We’re waiting on you!” And with that the Yankees are treated with southern hospitality and, in the end, death in very creative ways. One traveler is crushed by a giant rock. Another dies in a barrel roll with nails pounded through the wood! I thought the film was awful only because it was so boring but I know Lewis carries a cult following, so to each his own.

The cover of the script reads “Based on the screenplay >2000 Maniacs by Herschell Gordon Lewis”, and for good reason too. 2001 Maniacs is essentially a remake set in our hip present time as we follow three UCONN students heading to Florida for Spring Break. Pounding beers and spewing crude jokes, our boys, Anderson, Cory, and Nelson, road trip it down south for sun, more brew, and to get laid. Along the way they meet Ricky and his two play gals, Kat and Joey, a trio also on their way to Florida for Spring Break. All six travelers wind up getting sidetracked when they face a few detour signs and are led down some shady, dirt roads eventually ending up in…

Pleasant Valley, of course, and, Jesus Christ on a cracker, they’re having a celebration! And guess who are the guests of honor? Mayor Buckman, the jovial head of Pleasant Valley, welcomes his newfound Yankee friends and grants them all that they want: food, entertainment, and even a little nookie. And because of a little mix-up, six guests quickly becomes eight when Malcom (African-American) and his girlfriend, Leah (Asian) ride into town causing quite a stir amongst the townspeople, including the Mayor, but nevertheless, they, too, are guests of honor and should be treated as such.

At first, things are great, if not a bit weird, after all Pleasant Valley seems trapped in a time warp, but, no matter, Anderson and pals are treated like kings and queens. Things even turn a little Temptation Island when the local hunks and hotties start hitting on their guests. What they don’t know is that it’s all just a ruse to separate everyone. The maniacal murdering begins when Kat, a girl always looking for action, strolls off with the strapping cornbread, Harper who promises her a walk down to the lake and a view of the sunset. Things turn from kinky to just plain evil and Kat has her limbs torn off by four horses running in opposite directions (a murder recreated from the first film). Soon other “guests” fall victim to far more creative deaths at the hands of the townspeople. Ever seen a human shish kabob? Okay, sure you have, and you’ll soon see another!

It doesn’t take long before our leads realize there is something off and they want to get the hell our of dodge…but, they think too slow (that’s what weed and drinkin’ does to you!), and it’s far too late to get out. If you’ve seen the original 2000 Maniacs, you’ll know how 2001 ends and thanks to the writers, you get a killer twist unlike the first film.

The script was a fun and hilarious read. It moves along fast and bloody (the limb tearing begins around page 20) and I loved the characters. Of course the writers drew from the first film for the townspeople of Pleasant Valley (including the cat-hanging little Billy who gets more play in this film) but even the cardboard victims were a hoot. Sex-driven and delivering some hilarious dialogue, our eight travelers were balanced just right: you loved them, but you loved to see them go out with a splat. Also, unlike the “filler” between the deaths of the first film, the writers of 2001 Maniacs kept things interesting with amusing subplots: Anderson has a hard time getting it on with two local, flirtatious hotties, Cory wants to get it on with Leah, and Ricky wants to get it on with anyone. See? Sex always makes for great entertainment.

The only beef I had with the script was that it occasionally had some of the townsfolk making pop culture references. At one point, before the big BBQ, Mayor Buckman makes like Emeril and “kicks it up a notch” with some severed heads. It just doesn’t fit. Early on in the script the folks from Pleasant Valley are confused by the modern references made by the out-of-towners.

It’s an easy fix.

Apparently, H.G. Lewis passed on many projects in the time between his last directorial effort and now but the Kobin/Sullivan script had something that he liked and was inspired to direct again. And though I’m not a huge fan of the first film, I’m pretty anxious to see what comes of 2001 Maniacs.

3 out of 5

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Steve Barton

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