Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
September 1st, 2006

2001 Maniacs

2001 Maniacs
Directed by Tim Sullivan
Written by Chris Kobin, Tim Sullivan
Starring Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, Giuseppe Andrews, Jay Gillespie
Produced by Brett W. Nemeroff, Eli Roth, Scott Spiegel, Christopher Tuffin
87 mins

When you can watch a movie and see flying armadillos and country musicians at their most purely homicidal-looking, all within the first fifteen minutes, you know you're in for a serious rush.

And that's exactly what you're going to get out of "2001 Maniacs."

Now, I'm sure by now most of you have seen this sucker sitting on the video store shelves, and gave it a sad, scornful shake of the head with a little tongue-clucking as you wondered just how low Robert Englund was planning to sink. And some of you more adventurous souls took a look at the back of the box, saw the name "Eli Roth", remembered "Hostel", and ran for the hills like your feet were on fire and the IRS was waving audit forms at you.

Okay, it's true. Robert Englund's been doing the DTV thing a lot lately. His profile on the IMDB reads a guy who has been in theatres even less than I've been in the last five years. Seriously-haven't hit a theatre since "Stay Alive."

And we can all agree that "Hostel" was pretty much a solid block of godawful perpetrated on American viewers out of some kind of hyperdeveloped sadistic sense.

But if you're willing to give this one a chance, you will find a highly unique and very well developed horror movie with lots of comedic bits and some nifty twists.

Plotwise, what we've got here is a little village in Georgia, Pleasant Valley by name, that looks like it's packed to the brim with nice folks who live in a little backwater town in the middle of nowhere. The denizens of Pleasant Valley seem to live up to their name, and they're just about to kick off their annual "Guts 'n' Glory Festival" a big village-wide party that in the beginning looks like a lot of fun.

But the fun doesn't last long as we discover why Pleasant Valley isn't as pleasant as we'd all hoped.

First, check out that DVD menu. just fantastically freaky stuff. It truly must be seen to be believed-make sure you watch the whole thing. It'll have a couple of spoilers but nothing too tragic.

Second, there's a very nifty cameo at seven minutes and ten seconds. I give you, the return of Dr. Mambo! "Cabin Fever" enthusiasts will remember that one.

Third, the gradual unraveling of the town and the people therein is an absolute joy to watch. It speaks to some very careful story crafting and I approve wholeheartedly.

And yet, I'm becoming a bit unnerved by the recent push to get country music singers involved in direct to video horror movies. First, Randy Travis was breaking land-speed records for exorcisms and now we've got Travis Tritt looking like he's about ready to break out the chainsaw and start a massacre of his own. What's the logical next step in the sequence here, Garth Brooks as an axe murderer? Brooks and Dunn put people meat in a chili cook-off? Maybe the Dixie Chicks will finally get their chance to take care of Earl once and for all! Yeah! Right along with the whole block!

It really just doesn't make much sense. Though I'm personally rooting for Cletus T. Judd..

Not that this gets in the way of enjoying "2001 Maniacs". Not in the least. "2001 Maniacs" is packed full of comedy, action, and genuine outright blood-drenched horror sufficient to keep most fans happy.

The ending is a huge surprise. Despite an incredible fight scene at the end, where Robert Englund (or a reasonable facsimile) manages to get into a sabre duel with our last surviving male lead, there will still be at least two major twists to the end.

The special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette, an audition reel, and trailers for "2001 Maniacs", "The Mangler Reborn", "The Green River Killer", and "Streets of Legend".

All in all, despite a whole bunch of red flags screaming at you from the box, it's really going to be worth your time and rental dollars to snag a copy of "2001 Maniacs". Ignore everything logic and your instincts tell you on this one-this funny and action-packed romp has everything you need to make a solid night.

Motor Home Massacre

Motor Home Massacre
Directed by Allen Wilbanks
Written by Allen Wilbanks
Starring Shan Holleman, Nelson Bonilla, Justin Geer, Tonya Fraser
Produced by iStream LLC
91 mins

You know it's a bad sign when you can spend the first five minutes of a movie watching it, and immediately begin comparing it to any of a dozen other movies, most of which were released before 1990. And it's an even worse sign when you can spend the rest of those five minutes laughing at its pure cheesiness.

Anyway, what we've got to work with in this far-too-familiar movie is a bunch of horny teenage kids out for a good time. We've got the straight-laced responsible type, the recent breakup, the total asshole, the guy who can't stop talking like Jamie Kennedy, the idiot girl on at least three different fad diets, (both of which I guess might also qualify for the title of "total asshole", but I digress) the stopgap fill-in throwaway character whose purpose seems to be to just look nice, which she manages to pull off in spades, and of course, the serial killer out to make them all dead.


Yes, it's been done before. And done to death, frankly. I remember "Detour" less than fondly, which had many aspects in common with "Motor Home Massacre". For instance, "Detour" and "Motor Home Massacre" both prominently feature hot chicks, idiots who sound like a bad Jamie Kennedy sketch gone way too far, and abysmal production values.

This is the kind of movie that was starting to get stagnant back in the eighties. I can't help but find it ironic when Sabrina, the recent breakup, says of the motor home: "The last time this thing was on the road, Michael Jackson was cool". Yes, and so were movies like these, honey.

And even better, we're constantly subjected to some truly sub-par effects work. I couldn't help but wonder if they were getting a bulk discount on mannequins, as heavily as they figured into the plot of "Motor Home Massacre". Check it out at fifteen minutes thirty five seconds, where Sabrina manages to look terrified well in advance of that machete going through her book. And during. And after. And.whoa-her eyes don't move. Not one inch.

Guys, if you're going to use dummies in your shooting, at least turn their faces away from the camera so the metaphorical wires are a little more difficult to spot.

Plus, there will be another mannequin dragged behind the RV at the one hour eleven minute two second mark. So keep an eye open for that. Even better, there will also be machetes that look suspiciously like cardboard appearing regularly.

And it gets worse from there. Watch at the twenty seven minute forty seven second mark, where they'll insult your intelligence by recapping events that happened only twenty minutes prior!

But there are some high points here.stick around for a clever set of double entendres at the one hour thirteen minute twenty second mark.

Plus, there's the ending. This is actually going to prove quite a surprise--several of them in a row, in fact. The only reason this movie gets any kind of credit from me is that the last twenty minutes are a constant flood of plot twists and laughs. It's like watching an episode of Dr. Phil, interspersed with machetes, skillet fighting, and vehicular manslaughter. If there were machetes, skillet fights, and vehicular manslaughter on Dr. Phil, I'd probably start watching the show myself. Which proves just how good this ending is.

The special features include cast and crew interviews, subtitles, audio options, an alternate opening (which really wasn't all that good) and an alternate ending (which actually managed to be better than the original, which was already pretty good). Also, we get trailers for "Motor Home Massacre", "Cannibal", "Swarmed", "Tamara", "See No Evil", and in a truly lowbrow move, "The BTK Killer".

So all in all, we've got a second-rate movie that probably never should have seen the light of video store day. Unless you've got a thing for mannequin abuse, eighties kitsch, or just a high pain tolerance to get you through to a pretty decent ending, walk right on past this one.