“ Genre: Horror / Theatrical Release: 1964 / Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis / Actors: William Kerwin, Connie Mason ... / DVD released 28 October, 2002 at Tartan Video / Features of the DVD: Full Screen, PAL „
Two Thousand Maniacs starts out with hardly any build-up, there are two rednecks on the side of a dirt highway (I guess), one of the rednecks is up a tree with binoculars and the other is hiding in some nearby bushes. When the redneck in the tree spots a car he signals to his friend in the bushes who comes out to the highway and places a detour sign in the middle of the road redirecting the car onto a side road. This whole sequence had me rolling, it was well shot and executed, you can tell right away that the actors really enjoy their roles. The silly banjo song in the background is great too. After the two rednecks divert a few cars they celebrate a bit and the movie cuts to the cars that were diverted by the detour. These cars eventually make their way to the main street of Pleasant Valley, Georgia. It appears from a banner strewn up that this is Pleasant Valley's centennial, all the town folk are busy having a good time talking amongst themselves, handing out flags, children are running around having fun, everything seems harmless. The mayor of Pleasant Valley notices the cars approaching and begins to walk towards them with the excited crowd. The passengers in the cars are confused as to what's going on and why they have a crowd of cheering rednecks around them. The mayor exclaims that they're to be the guests of honor at this city's centennial celebration, according to tradition they must have six yankees as guests of honor. A few passengers in the cars seem somewhat interested while the others state they have other plans and would rather not stay. The mayor isn't prepared to hear excuses, he lets the passengers in the cars know that the celebration only lasts two days and that they won't have to pay for a thing, there are rooms waiting for them at a nearby hotel and a bar-b-q is going to start later in the evening. Eventually to the crowd's delight the passengers step out of their vehicles and make their way towards the h
otel. The movie slows down it's pace at this point, however it isn't too bad as this time is used to introduce you to the "guests of honor" and how they get along with each other and what not. It isn't too long before these "guests of honor" are led away from each other and a few of the guests are conned into private tours of the town by a member of the opposite sex. There is a particularly lovely scene where a man is asking one of the female guests to, "feel this blade, see how sharp it is". I found this scene absolutely hilarious, as is the first-aid she receives for her wound at the town hall. The grisly scenes of this sort that appear through out the film all carry this type of humour, except for the draw and quartering scene which seemed to be lacking a bit on the humour and blood. Two Thousand Maniacs continues with the guests of honor taking place in various other sick games, such as the barrel roll (my favorite). Things slow down 2/3 of the way into the movie when one of the guests has a feeling there is something wrong with this centennial celebration and decides to find out more about what's going on. During the last 10 minutes of this movie I thought things were going to end in a poor manner, towards the very end when more information is revealed about Pleasant Valley and the rednecks begin talking about rocket ships I couldn't help but laugh. The silly ending was a nice touch. The direction in 2,000 Maniacs is to the point and decent, the scenery is limited but everything seems to be put to good use. The movie drags a bit at times but it doesn't do so for very long, nothing to worry about. The characters in this movie I found very memorable and entertaining, the actors really enjoy their roles and put a lot of energy behind themselves. The mayor was great, I enjoyed the scenes where he coaxes the guests into some questionable activities. The guests vary in terms of acting
, though when they're character is suffering they do a good job of getting it across to the viewer. The gore effects aren't abundant in this movie, you are shown some blood and gore but nothing much. The rednecks inflicting this damage onto the "guests of honor" are the show stealers and cause moments that one could consider "disturbing". This movie is a nice piece of work, it doesn't try to have an intricate story and is very much to the point. There is a lot of humour throughout this movie and I found myself chuckling at the screen more than a few times. I recommend Two Thousand Maniacs to anyone looking for a bit of a laugh in a somewhat gory horror film, this one's good fun.
Most people wont have seen Two Thousand Maniacs unless they enjoy weird and bizarre horrors. The film is totally weird and morbid but has the visual look and plot to unsettle most people. It starts with a couple of strange looking men setting up a trick detour sign down a small country road. They select certain cars from the distance using their licence plates and divert two cars to a small town nearby. Once they have done tihs they remove the detour sign and return to the twon they diverted the cars to. Here we see the whole town is out to welcome their new guests and to soon becomes easy to see that something is very wrong with the townsfolk. They seem all too happy that people have come to their town and soon the evil that is inside these people soon starts to surface. Without warning the townspeople start to slice and dice one of the vistors into pieces, while raunchy comments ans insane laughter accompany it. This one scenes sets the tone and mood for the rest of the film, the vistors tohught they where honourary guests of the towns 100th Civil War Anniversary but instead fall victim to the weird and deranged townspeople who get ready to prepare then for a giant barbecue. It is these Southerners ways to pay back the outcome of the Civil War and having these Yankees murdered and eaten by Confederate zombies. Despite the film being made in 1964, this film is not for the squeamish, it is a macabre display of violence, gore and mutilation, all that takes place in what at first seems to be a small and quiet little town. It these events that can have a dramatic and traumatic effect on the viewer. Director H. G. Lewis painths the screen red with blood and the graphic violence reaches a climax that is unexpected and raw. It is easy to tell that the focus of the movie was not on the technical side but more on how much the film can shock the viewer. As a result of this, the film framing is very off balance and at times shows a very in your face angle t
hat is very effect on the viewer. With edits that are just as wacky as the story sometimes, the film has a very unique flair, but the cast appears inexperienced and often unable to deliver the lines in the context. Even the lighting and the sound recording of the film shows the ineptitude of the filmmakers, and yet, Two Thousand Maniacs achieves something many horror films fail at, it makes an impact. Whether the viewer’s response is disgust, joy, entertainment, or plain fear, I am sure Two Thousand Maniacs makes a lasting impression on every viewer, although its impact given the current cinema culture is quite different that its original perception in the 60s. Two Thousand Maniacs is weird, bizarre, morbid and brutal. It is not for everyone and it is a movie that clearly started out as an attempt to accumulate the grossest and most sadistic things H. G. Lewis could think of at the time. It is a shocking movie despite its age, but if you are interested in something really weird Two Thousand Maniacs is exploitation in its worst, but at the same time at its most inventive and original.
Hershell G. Lewis's second film opens up the scale of 'Blood Feast', as this time we view not one madman but a whole town full of psychopaths! This absolutly wonderful lurid little gem of drive in horror is a joy to watch again and again. It has every quality that you would come to expect from explotation cinema, sexy girls, bad songs, drunken madmen, and grisly mutilations! At times it seems to be a bizzare and gory reworking of the 1954 Brodway musical 'Brigadoon'. Once again as with the seminal 'Blood Feast' this film has also had a great influence on the evolution of the horror film, its mark can be seen when viewing later classics such as 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. I would reccomend this to anyone who is interested in the history of the horror film, and also to anyone who enjoys camp gory humour!
Drive-in gore king Herschel Gordon Lewis reached his creative peak with this darkly-comic slaughterfest about six vacationing Yanks who fall victim to the cheerfully violent Southern hospitality of Pleasant Valley. Made the guests of honor in the town's Centennial celebration, the hapless visitors soon discover that the obligations of their title include being used for the locals' bloody amusements -- which include being rolled downhill in a barrel full of sharp spikes and strapped down beneath a boulder for a hideous variation on the dunking booth -- and eventually ending up on the spit for the evening's barbecue. It turns out the bloodthirsty rednecks have come back from the dead after 100 years to exact symbolic revenge for the slaughter of the entire town by the Union Army. Filmed on a shoestring in St. Cloud, Florida, this is probably Lewis' most technically accomplished film (despite some annoyingly bad performances) and the best of the drive-in "Blood Trilogy," which also includes Blood Feast and Color Me Blood Red. Lewis even contributed his talents to some of the songs (credited to the Pleasant Valley Boys), including Rebel Yell (not to be confused with the Billy Idol tune) and a rousing rendition of Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms, which accompanies a shot of a severed arm rotating on a barbecue spit. Yee-haa.
Gore auteur Hershell Gordon Lewis' "Brigadoon"-like "2000 Maniacs" is quite a lot of fun. The tale involves 6 Yankee tourists lured into the town of Pleasant Valley, which sort of resembles Andy Griffith's Mayberry. They are hailed as guests of honor for the town's centennial celebration, but are never told exactly what their roles are to be in the proceedings. It's the best kind of sadism, the sort where you can actually picture Lewis sitting around, asking himself "Okay, what's the grossest thing I can think up THIS time? Rolled down a hill in a barrel with nails pounded into it? A carnival-style "dunking game" that involves a boulder instead of the usual pool of water? Sure!!" The film is at its most successful when it actually causes you to wince, not even so much during the murder scenes, but through the scenes in which the townsfolk have to cajole and coerce their victims into taking part in the festivities. Besides the campy drive-in value of this trash, there is also the rather enjoyable bluegrass music provided throughout the film by three minstrels known here as "The Pleasant Valley Boys."
This film is so much fun, with mad hillbillies, rockin' bluegrass tunes, beautiful girls and bloody revenge. Take a bunch of clueless Yankees willing to believe a handmade detour sign, to a town of reincarnated civil war victims (The South Will Rise Again, ho ho ho), and treat them as special centennial guests. The traditional southern hospitality consists of putting the visitors through sadistic execution rituals, whilst the townsfolk hoot 'n' holler with glee. The production values are pretty good, with purdy locations and cinematography. Acting is involved but camply substandard, as it should be in other words. The crazed hillbillies come off a whole lot better than the victims as they are given the chance for some delirious over-acting. The editing can be a bit delirious at times, which keep you guessing if it’s been cut, or not. The music is fine toe-tapping stuff if you like that kind of thing. As far as the gore goes it is a little few and far between. The first scene where things turn nasty is sickeningly sadistic, as an innocent visitor has her thumb sliced off and then shortly afterwards has her whole arm chopped off with an axe in graphic detail. Subsequent gore scenes are less graphic but equally sadistic, the guy who is ripped apart between four horses is barely shown other than a plastic leg being dragged away, it’s a pity that the director H. G. Lewis didn't make use of the double amputee who offered his services to art. The barrel roll is very well filmed and highly unpleasant, the sort of thing you will dream about for years, and the teetering boulder game looks loads of fun but ends too cleanly. The end of the film slows down as some sense is made of the mayhem that preceded it, and the final scenes actually turn out eerily as the town melts back into time to prepare for their next revenge driven centennial.
Available "fully uncut" for the first time in the UK, Two Thousand Maniacs! is the second of director HG Lewis' "blood" trilogy. Though the "once-in-a-lifetime" title makes a promise no film could keep--only about 30 maniacs show up--and the level of gore is a notch or so down from Blood Feast--only four deaths--this is perhaps the director's most watchable film. The Brigadoon-derived plot nugget concerns a Deep South town (variously suggested to be in Georgia or Arkansas, but actually Florida) wiped out by Union raiders during the Civil War, which reappears once every 100 years to wreak "blood vengeance". For the centennial celebrations, Pleasant Valley lures Yankee tourists off the road and subjects them to gruesome fairground games--a cannibal BBQ, a "horse-race", a "barrel roll" and "teetering rock". The ideas are nasty, and Lewis even attempts subtlety by keeping the quartering and the spiked barrel inside mostly off screen, but the creepiest touch is the "aw-shucks" good humour with which the ghostly Confederate maniacs--led by a mayor who is the spitting image of Sergeant Bilko's Colonel Hall--treat their horrible sport. It has the usual Lewis drawbacks--mostly inept staging, acting that veers between the wooden ("Playmate" Connie Mason) and the amateurishly hammy (one of the worst child actors in film history), clumsy editing, community theatre production values--but his fans wouldn't have it any other way and the hayseed music is great! On the DVD: The full-screen image is as good as this ever will look, considering Lewis' primitive understanding of lighting cinematography, with rich scarlet blood, vividly ugly 1963 leisurewear and very few print imperfections. The features offer an imaginative "Welcome to Pleasant Valley Centennial" menu, with buttons like the target you have to hit to drop the "teetering rock" on the Yankee; lurid original trailer ("Two thousand maniacs crazed for carnage started bathing a whole town in pulsing, human blood ... brutal, evil, ghastly beyond belief"); filmographies for Lewis, Friedman and star William Kerwin (aka Thomas Wood); promotional art gallery; notes by aptly-monickered expert Billy Chainsaw, highlighting the connections with John Waters and Brigadoon; a teaser trailer for "the Herschell Gordon Lewis Collection"; a mass of trailers for other "Tartan terror" titles. The Lewis-Friedman commentary and mind-numbing outtakes reel available on the Region 1 DVD are sadly absent, but that release doesn't have this one's major bonus addition--the entire soundtrack album, with compositions by Lewis himself (including the immortal "Yee-Hah, the South's Gonna Rise Again") and Flatt and Scruggs (of Bonnie and Clyde fame). --Kim Newman