Friday, February 6, 2009

Offical Hillbilly Fashion

Hailing as I do from one of the Southern states (by birth), I guess it is hardly surprising that I have a fondness for the "Southern Gothic" school of horror.

This is not really a Southern Gothic movie. This, my friends, is an exercise in total WTF hilarity.

So back in 1964, madcap exploitation director Herschell Gordon Lewis made a film called 2000 Maniacs! which was kind of the the blood and guts Deep American South version of the musical Brigadoon. A mystical town appears only once a year, during which time the inhabitants fall in love and dance and have fun.

In 2000 Maniacs! the inhabitants' version of "fun" is inventively killing and eating its hapless visitors.

Well, about three years ago, some filmmakers needed money for booze and rent and whatever, and decided to remake Lewis's movie. Hence, 2001 Maniacs!, released in 2005.....

...and starring Robert Englund in the snappiest Confederate Flag eyepatch known to man.

Basically a bunch of Northern college students get sneakily detoured into the eeeeeeevil revenge-bound Deep South town of Pleasant Valley and butchered by the ghostly residents, who have all taken human form for just one day to wreak their vengeance on those town-burnin', women-killin' Yankee bastards. And that's really all you need to know about the plot. Hell, even the Wikipedia entry provides a handy listing of how each Northerner dies.

The students are the most unlikable, shallow imbeciles I have ever seen in any modern horror movie (and I have seen a LOT). All the men are obsessive sex maniacs with NO other motive in life than to get laid, and all the women are trashy, tramp-stamped sluts. There are NO exceptions to these rules. None.

It's pretty much a pleasure to watch them all get skewered, decapitated, fed acid, crushed, what-have you.

The Southerners are so laughably cliched as to be cartoon characters. This is just about the most un-PC movie you can imagine. Black people shown eating watermelon and being called "boy;" the farm boy who constantly chases his sheep, ostensibly to have sex with it....

......the ZZ-Top style musicians who play endless rounds of "The South Will Rise Again;" multiple hollerings of "yeeeeeee-haaaaaawww!"; the gas station kid who plays a modified version of the Deliverance "dueling banjos" piece; and the overalled redneck gas station attendant (cameo by country singer Travis Tritt).

The accents are so thick you could build a house with them. Particularly weird (and sort of grating) is the fact that several of the men, who you might think would have deeper voices, have high-pitched girlish ones.

But the crowning glory here are the costumes.

I swear this film was costumed in this manner: the designer, director and producers all got together on site and said: "Where's the nearest high school that did Oklahoma! and Li'l Abner most recently??"

So what we get is every Southern cliche in the book, from "mountain hillbilly" Daisy-Mae style short-shorts and peasant blouses, to pioneer calico dresses, to full out Civil War uniforms. And then they ran out of ideas, so they added weirdo German milkmaid outfits and Fredericks of Hollywood bustiers atop big white petticoats.

And THEN they got to their notorious lead, Robert Englund, and discovered that they didn't have any more Civil-War-era outfits, so they decided to make him look like Colonel Sanders appearing in a community theatre production of The Music Man.

We're not even gonna talk about whatever the hell Lin Shaye, a.k.a "Granny Boone," is wearing. What IS that? Madame LeFarge meets Debbie The Debutante? Geez.

I advise you to check your brain at the opening credits for this one. It's worth watching only for the bizarre WTFery of it all. I mean, I can't tell if these people were having an absolute ball filming this movie, or whether to be really, really embarrassed for all of them. Only Robert Englund seems to be actually acting here.

But then again, he DOES have the cool eyepatch.

Rebel Yell, indeed.


Jack said...

So, was there exactly one more maniac in this than in the original?

And now I have the urge to make a film about a murderous Col. Sanders-a-like. One of his secret seven herbs and spices is HUMAN FLESH!

Tenebrous Kate said...

OK, I'm sold! Next time this is on FearNet On Demand, I'm dialing it up :) My interest was piqued at "eyepatch" and I was SOLD at "un-PC." Sounds like a pretty amazing piece of ciema...!

I'm sort of ashamed to admit that early exposure to "2000 Maniacs" shaped my concept of life in the Deep South.... or... well... anyplace two hours South of New York City.

The Vicar of VHS said...

Is it wrong that I've made image #7 my new desktop?

Probably so.

I watched this one a couple years back, and while I don't think it's a classic, it isn't bad for brainless entertainment from the Aughts. There's eye candy, costumes, and a few "I can't believe they did/said that" moments to make up for the empty calories.

True fact: I have never seen the original.

Truer fact: back in my long-haired musician days, I was told I looked exactly like an Evil Travis Tritt.

I got offended until I got a look at one of his album covers--and ye gods, to my shame, tis troo. D-:

The Costuminatrix said...

Jack: So you're basically wanting to do kind of a Southern-fried Sweeney Todd? I'm down with that.

Tenebrous Kate: The only thing missing was a Awesome Fu-Manchu 'stache, but they don't rock those in the South quite so much.

Vicar: what an honor to have you stop by! True story: I have never seen Two Thousand Maniacs either. True Story Number Two: I saw this at about 3 am Halloween night, in Bradford, UK, on one of the British Film Channels. They do not censor their movies over there. I only saw the last fifteen minutes and was determined to see the rest. I probably needn't have bothered....