Wednesday, March 23, 2011

#229. Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)

DVD Synopsis: The TWO THOUSAND MANIACS of a small town celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Civil War by forcing a handful of Northerners to serve as "guests" for a variety of macabre, blood-crazed fun and games. The festivities include a screaming man placed in a rolling barrel lined with nails, a hit-the-bull's-eye carnival game with a pretty gal and a boulder, and a blonde sexpot whose arm is hacked off and barbecued! But before they can slaughter the only smart Yank (Thomas Wood), he and the lovely Terry Adams (Connie Mason, "Playboy's Favorite Playmate") try to escape...

Two Thousand Maniacs is the second entry in what's become known as director Herschell Gordon Lewis' “Blood Trilogy”. Released one year after the groundbreaking Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs looks to continue the gory tradition of it's predecessor, only this time, instead of a lone homicidal maniac, we're treated to an entire town of bloodthirsty killers. 

The citizens of Pleasant Valley, a quaint southern community, are getting ready to celebrate their Centennial anniversary, but before they can officially kick off the festivities, they need a handful of northerners to join them. By setting up fake detour signs on the main highway, they're able to lure six “Yankees” into town, all of whom are told they're to be the honored guests of the celebration. What these six don't realize, however, is that Pleasant Valley is a town with a tragic past: exactly one hundred years earlier, during the American Civil War, Northern soldiers slaughtered every man, woman and child in Pleasant Valley, and now the townsfolk are looking for a little payback at the expense of their new northern visitors. Two of the “guests”, Terry (Connie Mason) and Tom (William Kerwin), begin to suspect something's very wrong with this entire celebration, but have they realized it in time to save themselves? 

Unlike Blood Feast, which was short on story and long on gore, Two Thousand Maniacs takes some time to set up it's tale of bloody revenge. Once the six guests arrive in town, they're treated like royalty. The mayor of Pleasant Valley (played with plenty of bravado by Jeffrey Allen) goes out of his way to make them feel welcome. He sets all six up in the local hotel, and even has some of the townsfolk serve as their guides during their stay. By dedicating it's opening scenes to establishing the story, Two Thousand Maniacs does take a little time to kick it into gear (in Blood Feast, a grisly murder is committed before the opening titles), but your patience early on will be well rewarded by way of some very imaginative kill scenes. In fact, they're so imaginative that I don't dare go into them here, out of fear I may spoil one for you. 

As a filmmaker, Herschell Gordon Lewis definitely had his weak points, many of which are on display in Two Thousand Maniacs. The performances, save a few, are weak, and a handful of technical glitches occasionally rear their ugly head (early on, one of the female guests, played by Shelby Livingston, is introducing herself to Tom, and even though she's standing in the middle of a street surrounded by people, her voice sounds as if it was recorded in a tunnel, an obvious re-dub in which no energy was spent to match the new audio with the existing scene). One thing Lewis could do, however, was stage a kill, and in Two Thousand Maniacs, he definitely let his imagination run wild. 

Though not as shocking as Blood Feast, I would still recommend you check out Two Thousand Maniacs. The ingenious kills alone make it worth your time.


Klaus said...

Great poster and parental warning for the trailer. I'm just wondering what kind of movie you would be bringing your children to see, if this was one of the trailers that was playing. Awesome stuff!

Dave Becker said...

@Klaus: Excellent point! I'm guessing this trailer didn't play before Disney features :)

Screamqueenarmy said...

i STILL haven't seen this movie. the only H.G.Lewis Movie i've seen is The Wizard Of Gore

Dave Becker said...

@Screamqueenarmy: I'd probably recommend you check out BLOOD FEAST first, though TWO THOUSAND MANIACS is pretty entertaining as well.

Thanks for stopping by!