2001 MANIACS (2006)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 27 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Horror Violence and Gruesome Images, Sexuality/Nudity and Language

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Directed by: Tim Sullivan

Written by: Tim Sullivan & Chris Kobin

Starring: Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, Giuseppe Andrews, Jay Gillespie, Matthew Carey, Peter Stormare, Marla Malcolm, Gina Marie Heekin, Brian Gross & Mushond Lee

2001 MANIACS is one of those rare horror remakes that is miles better than the original. Based on Herschell Gordon Lewis’s TWO THOUSAND MANIACS!, Tim Sullivan’s remake is a much more tongue-in-cheek effort that ultimately comes off as a hilariously un-PC horror-comedy. Driven by a constant combination of horror and humor, 2001 MANIACS has so much to like within its fast-paced 87 minutes. This should be taken precisely as the kind of film it was intended to be: a silly slasher flick with lots of laughs and gallons of gore.

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Anderson Lee and his two best friends have taken to the road for Spring Break. On the way to Daytona Beach, the trio of hapless frat guys take a wrong turn. Instead of leading them to a beach filled with babes, this misguided detour has landed the group in the old-fashioned Pleasant Valley. It seems that the boys have arrived just in time for a big celebration. However, they aren’t the only guests of honor, because two more guys and three gals arrive shortly after. Taking the extremely old-fashioned Southern charm and friendly townsfolk as a good sign, the group of “guests” decide to stick around for the Guts and Glory Jubilee. After all, there’s a delicious barbecue at the end of the festival. What our “guests” don’t know is that they are the menu!

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2001 MANIACS knows exactly what it wants to be. This is a deliberately over-the-top horror-comedy that’s full of un-PC humor and cheesy gore. The former is definitely the driving force of what makes this slasher work so well. Throughout the years, we’ve seen so many dull and dreary slasher films that hit the same clichés and don’t have the decency to have fun with them. 2001 MANIACS utilizes a lot of the crazy situations that might be brought on by a group of modern college kids running headlong into old-school Confederate cannibals. What’s especially funny is that director/co-writer Tim Sullivan includes three people who the Confederates would have hated from the get-go. We get a black biker, his Asian girlfriend, and a gay guy thrown into the pool of victims. The interactions between the town full of insane Southerners and these three particular characters are hysterical to watch. The Mayor’s reaction to finding out that his son may be attracted to the gay guy is especially hilarious. It sounds like 2001 MANIACS might be offensive from that description, but it should be made clear that Tim Sullivan is exploiting every redneck joke he gets an opportunity to. From kissing cousins and bestiality to jokes about racial tensions and sex, nobody is safe from the crude and very funny comedic jabs.

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However, the laughs only make up half the film as the gore is especially glorious. Using mostly practical effects, 2001 MANIACS certainly doesn’t skimp on the blood or creative kills. Part of the fun is to guess how each character will meet their untimely demise. A couple of pieces of foreshadowing come back in a big way. We get severed limbs, popped out eyeballs, impalements, and many other acts of wanton violence. None of it is meant to be taken seriously at all as each death is accompanied by a few bad puns. The protagonists/victims are nothing to write home about. These are your average slasher stereotypes. There’s the jock, the black guy (who doesn’t meet the typical dying-first cliché), the nerd, the slut, the horn-dog, the gay guy, the final girl, etc. These characters were here to die and served their purpose well. The antagonists are quite a different story. These Confederate cannibals are colorful individuals and each seem to have an identity (as brief as their screen time might be). Robert Englund is especially enjoyable as the sinister Mayor Buckman.

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2001 MANIACS might not be the greatest horror-comedy or slasher ever, but it’s a gory blast of fun from beginning to end. The story is silly and the protagonists are stupid, but these factors lend to the enjoyment. Tim Sullivan crafted both a remake that’s far superior to its source material and a wholly enjoyable horror-comedy. This is the kind of film that knows exactly what it wants to be. Everyone seems to have had fun making it and that radiates off the screen. If you’re in the mood for a crazy, gory and stupid good time, then 2001 MANIACS is probably right up your alley.

Grade: B

FREDDY VS. JASON (2003)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Pervasive Strong Horror Violence/Gore, Gruesome Images, Sexuality, Drug Use and Language

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Directed by: Ronny Yu

Written by: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift

Starring: Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter, Kelly Rowland, Chris Marquette, Brendan Fletcher, Katharine Isabelle, Lochlyn Munro, Kyle Labine

In the world of cinematic villains, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees have much in common. Both were born out of the 80’s slasher craze brought on by John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. Both have killed many hapless teenagers in creative ways. Both were eventually bought by New Line Cinema. Respectively, both also jumped the shark multiple times (e.g. Jason went to Space and New York, while Freddy got a 3D makeover). At the conclusion of the absolutely terrible JASON GOES TO HELL, there was a hint that a possible crossover between both characters. Fans would have to wait for nearly a decade for that to happen though. Writers and directors were changed, many possible scripts were floating out there, but the real question remained: Why did the devoted fans of either series think this showdown would be remotely good or even serviceable? The bad films outweigh the good in both the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise and the FRIDAY THE 13TH name. It’s sincerely surprising that this fight between two slasher killers turned out to be this well-done!

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We pick up years after the events of both Freddy’s last nightmare and Jason’s last murder frenzy. The adults on Elm Street have found a way to suppress the memories of Freddy Krueger and an entire generation of their children have no idea who he even is. Without their fear keeping his legend alive, Freddy finds himself rotting in Hell with no way to kill. This is when the scarred maniac comes across the dreams of another undead psycho named Jason Voorhees. Freddy tricks Jason into traveling to Elm Street in order to off some young people and re-instill fear into a new generation of potential victims. The body count rises and soon Freddy finds himself strong enough to kill again, but there’s one tiny issue. Jason keeps stealing all of Freddy’s possible kills and this pisses Krueger off beyond reason. Meanwhile, the newly endangered group of Elm Street teens try to figure out a way to pit both killers against each other, before they wind up dead.

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I am not doing justice to just how clever the whole story is. This is a dead teenager movie that does all it can to be different from the pack of generic slashers, while also delivering the gory goods. Though the real stars of the movie are not the cast of young faces, but the two horror titans on display. This doesn’t mean that the potential victims aren’t fleshed out a little bit. The script actually has a coherent plot that plays by the rules of both series and melds them together seamlessly. Robert Englund also delivers his final portrayal of Freddy Krueger and gives the character a fine swan song.

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In a movie featuring two iconic psychopaths, one would expect a whole lot of violence and FREDDY VS. JASON delivers in spades in that department. I saw a total body count of 21 dead teenagers (both main cast and poor saps in the background), while others are killed off-screen as well. In all honesty, the movie takes a good amount of time before getting to the actual showdown between Freddy and Jason. In retrospect though, a 98 minute movie that is filled with 20 minutes of set-up and over an hour of fights would quickly get very dull. The script for FREDDY VS. JASON is the best thing about the film, because it respects the mythologies of both characters while also creating an entire new story that closes off both series nicely.

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While Jason hulks around crushing, slicing, and even electrocuting over a dozen victims, Freddy haunts the dream realm. The nightmare sequences in this movie are the only actual scares. The set design in these moments is top-notch and there are some pretty disturbing images on display. Simply put, these are some of the best nightmare sequences in all of Freddy’s eight (nine, if count the remake) films. The kills on display here are also some of the best in Jason’s twelve movie career as a slasher. From the Elm Street to Camp Crystal Lake to the dream world and the real world, FREDDY VS. JASON is quite clever and well-constructed for a slasher flick.

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That’s not to say that it isn’t without some typical flaws that come with this territory though. Some of the characters are merely stereotypes (e.g. the stoner who looks like Jay and the abusive boyfriend/abused girlfriend). There are some bad one-liners courtesy of Freddy. A fight between him and Jason in his realm also gets a little too goofy at first, but slowly finds some creepy ground later on. The CGI here is also spotty in some places. I understand the movie is now a decade old, but there were better effects than this available at the time.

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If I were to sum up FREDDY VS. JASON in two words, they would be: Cool and Fun. This is a pretty clever movie for a slasher and it features two of the most iconic boogeymen to ever grace the screen. The kills are creative. There is real entertainment to be had here. It’s also a solid way of closing off the original run of both franchises. FREDDY VS. JASON isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s not trying to be. This is a film made by fans for fans and you can tell while watching it. In the end, it’s far better than many of Freddy’s or Jason’s movies. Check it out, if you’re a fan of this kind of thing.

Grade: B

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