Not having seen the original 2000 Maniacs, I was worried I'd be playing catch-up. Turns out this movie is not a sequel. It's a remake. Sort of. "Inspired by" and "based on". A retelling, maybe? Perhaps a re-invention.
Three friends are on their way to Florida for spring break when they take a detour and pass through Pleasant Valley, Georgia. And then two more groups of travelers take that same detour and find themselves face-to-face with the local population. All eight "northerners" are half invited, half coerced into celebrating Pleasant Valley's jubilee. Horror ensues.
I have not, to my shame, ever seen an HG Lewis film, but I can sort of imagine what it might be like. Thus, I can sort of believe that 2001 Maniacs holds true to the gore presented in the original. I mean it is kind of ridiculous, but also kind of gross. The guests of honour are offed in a variety of ways and the death scenes are interspersed with prolonged sequences of people trying to get it on. Robert Englund hams it up as the mayor, so you know, there's that, too.
For some strange reason it reminded me of Freaks, even though 2001 Maniacs is nothing like Freaks. 2001 Maniacs isn't a good movie, but it isn't a terrible movie, either. Entertaining, I think is the word. A bit nonsensical, too. But it does have the one thing most horror movies lack: friendly characters. Though crippled by raging libidos, all the ill-fated party guests are nice and likable enough. The movie creates a bit of distance between the audience and the people on screen, but you still don't feel like anyone really deserves to die. I think for that reason alone I'm willing to give more credit to this film than it probably deserves.