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! honors 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 preparing for their Centennial anniversary. Before they can officially kick off the festivities, however, they need a handful of northerners to join in on the fun. 

Setting up fake detour signs on the main highway, they lure six "Yankees” into town, all of whom are informed that they will be the town's honored guests. What these six don't realize, however, is that Pleasant Valley is a town with a tragic past.

Exactly one hundred years earlier, when the American Civil War was still raging, Northern soldiers slaughtered every man, woman and child in Pleasant Valley. Now, the townsfolk are looking for a little payback at the expense of their northern visitors. Two of the “guests”, Terry (Connie Mason) and Tom (William Kerwin), are the first to suspect that there's 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 the 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 them up in the local hotel, and even has some of the townsfolk serve as guides during their stay. By dedicating the opening scenes to establishing the story, Two Thousand Maniacs! does take a little time to kick into gear (in Blood Feast, a grisly murder is committed before the opening titles). Rest assured, though, that your patience early on will be well rewarded by way of some very creative kill scenes. In fact, they're so imaginative that I don't dare spoil them for you. 

As a filmmaker, Herschell Gordon Lewis definitely had his weaker points, most 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 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. 

One thing Lewis could do, and do well, was stage a kill, and in Two Thousand Maniacs, he let his imagination run wild. 



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!

DVD Infatuation 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

DVD Infatuation 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!