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HALL OF FAMEon September 2, 2003
I am starting to achieve a grudging admiration for the cinematic wonders produced by Herschell Gordon Lewis. Lovingly referred to by horror fans as the Godfather of Gore, Lewis, along with producer David Friedman, created a series of ultra low budget schlockfests throughout the 1960s that ushered in the age of the gore flick. Starting off with his 1963 classic "Blood Feast" and moving on from there, Lewis never expressed qualms about bad acting, cheesy special effects, plodding pacing, and gutter level production values. Lewis's films went on to great success at drive-in theaters across the country, but with the advent of DVD all of his classics have received the royal treatment so that new generations of brave explorers can enjoy his masterpieces. You need a pretty strong stomach to survive an H.G. Lewis film: it's not the unrealistic gore that makes you sick, but the sheer shock that anyone would conceive such atrocious acts and present them as entertainment. Even more shocking is that his films ARE entertaining, which makes you wonder about your own state of mind.
Having just told you about the gore in his films, "Two Thousand Maniacs" is not the goriest H.G. Lewis film; in fact, it isn't even close. For the ultimate in Lewis gore you need to watch "The Wizard of Gore" or his latest film, "Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat." Those films are truly revolting in their grim depictions of onscreen carnage. No, "Two Thousand Maniacs" is a subtler Lewis at work. There are still numerous scenes of bloody violence throughout the film, most noticeably some nasty hatchet work, a drawing and quartering, a rock crushing, and a barrel rolling "contest" that looks amazingly, painfully realistic (a degree of realism being a first for Lewis). But the violence takes a backseat to the story, as well as to the brain numbing dramatic skills of Playboy model Connie Mason. I quickly discovered that if you can survive watching Connie Mason, you could make it through anything life throws at you. The rest of the cast isn't much better, but compared to Mason's theatrical dexterity they look like graduates of the Royal Shakespearean Theater.
"Two Thousand Maniacs" is the story of a little southern town named Pleasant Valley and its centennial celebration. In order to appreciate fully the festivities, the townspeople lure in two carloads of Yankees with trick road signs. This is the first indication that something fishy is going on, although the travelers have no inkling that they are about to suffer a fate worse than one could possibly imagine. The strangers, one of whom is the inestimable Connie Mason, express bewilderment as the entire town turns out to greet them with waving Confederate flags and cheers of joy. The town mayor, who certainly ranks as one of the most amusing characters in the annals of film history, insists they stay in a local hotel in order to celebrate with the townspeople. He even assures his guests that the hotel bill is on him, in case the travelers feel burdened by the awesome responsibility of staying over for a few days. The group of carpetbaggers grudgingly acquiesces, with only Tom (a teacher heading to a convention in Georgia) questioning why a southern town celebrates the anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Lewis doesn't waste too much time getting into the gore, and the whole story plays out amidst banjo music, waving flags, and lots of rebel yells. The conclusion even attempts a surprising twist for a movie of this caliber, as the viewer discovers the secrets of Pleasant Valley and its gruesome celebrations.
"Two Thousand Maniacs" aims for the funny bone as well as the churning stomach. Just look for the two hayseeds (named, appropriately enough, Rufe and Lester) that do most of the legwork getting the Yankees into town. Both take their roles so over the top that it's easy to write it off as prejudice against the South on the part of the filmmakers. In fact, many stereotypes in this film are downright offensive. Even still, the whole thing is great fun. Lewis filmed the picture in St. Cloud, Florida in roughly two weeks, and most of the people seen in the background shots actually lived in that town. The residents of St. Cloud went out of their way to accomdate Lewis during the shooting schedule, and many of these people saw the finished product and expressed their enjoyment of the film. The rest of the South apparently saw something in this film, as Lewis states on the commentary track that "Two Thousand Maniacs" was a big hit at drive-ins throughout the South.
This DVD release has gobs of extras, including numerous outtakes (a lot of which show Connie Mason brushing her hair), tons of stills, and a gallery of promotional material associated with the release of the film. The best extra is the commentary track with Lewis and Friedman. This commentary is easily one of the best I have ever heard on a DVD, and it is one of the funniest as well. By listening to the comments about the film, you learn that Connie Mason was a terrible driver, that Lewis performed the title track to the movie, and that softballs thrown during the shooting of the rock crushing scene damaged parked cars just beyond the range of the camera. Friedman and Lewis get so chummy here that I wondered if doing these commentaries led to the making of "Blood Feast 2." Whatever the case, you cannot go wrong with this DVD. The picture quality is AMAZING for a film of this age and budget. "Two Thousand Maniacs" is a great introduction into the grotesque world of H.G. Lewis.
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on August 14, 2004
Two Thousand Maniacs is camp perfection. It was H.G Lewis' second movie and it remains the Schlockmeister's best to date.

The plot is sort of a Twilight Zone affair, involving an isolated southern town that refuses to acknowledge the outcome of the Civil War. Instead, they celebrate their centennial by luring some unsuspecting Yankees to town and proceeding to find creative ways to ritualistically and creatively torture, dismember, and murder them.

If you have seen other Lewis films, you already know certain things about his style. Yes, it is crude and exploitative, silly and stupid. The actors are always amateur and awful, on par with the thespians in Ed Wood's films. But the good ones, like Two Thousand Maniacs, are also funny, hugely entertaining, and strangely fascinating.

This film is simultaneously repellent and amusing, even endearing. The premise is so zaney, the villians so filled with sadistic glee, the mutilations so glorified, it starts to work on levels that I'm not sure H.G. intended. This is the kind of sleaze art that influenced much of John Waters' earliest and best work.

This is definitely the best Herschell Gordon Lewis film. It is the best executed and most effective and, by far, the most enjoyable. Kick back and enjoy the freakshow. The south shall rise again!
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2K MANIACS is a blessedly twisted ghost story with enough goofy gore and bad acting to satisfy any / all fans of cinematic idiocy. Herschel Gordon Lewis' opus of hicktown vengeance is a marvel considering it's 1964 release date! Without the bloodletting, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS would be fairly dull. With the scenes of communal sadism however, it's like watching a bizarre cross between THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, HEE HAW, and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE! Never before (or since) have so many hillbillies gathered together in order to mutilate and kill unwary visitors from north of the Mason / Dixon line! Lewis has created a ghoulish feast of horror, a cautionary tale for any who would dare travel to the southern hinterlands! Beware! Rufe and Lester just might be waiting, putting up their fake detour sign, and hoping a car full of damn yankees will happen by! Stay away from Pleasant Valley! Drive right on past and avoid it's hellish centennial celebration! Don't end up like the poor saps who were cut, chopped, hacked, drawn and quartered, crushed, poked, and otherwise eviscerated! You have been warned...
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on January 9, 2001
2000 Maniacs! is perhaps the greatest movie ever made. Watching this jaw dropping lunacy one can only imagine what Lewis could do with a George Lucas sized budget (although I have a hunch Lewis would shoot the flick for 30 grand and pocket the 150 million). For years I've been debating what makes this lil exploitation film so disturbing. Is it the quality of the 16 mm film (the dvd is surprisingly colorful and clear, but still has that early 16 mm look), is it the hammy overacting (the killers seem to be having a little too much fun!) Is it the obviously fake yet sickening mannequin arm that gets hacked off by these crazed hillbillies? There is absolutely not a trace of socially redeeming value in this film. Watching this, one doesn't know whether to laugh or be sick. Great hillbilly musical numbers, a classic stiff performance by former playmate Connie Mason, and bizzare murders makes this a must. Easily Lewis' finest film. This DVD includes a great audio commentary by Lewis and Friedman, a great gallery, etc. I can't praise this film enough. Critics that name Lewis as one of the worst directors of all time are clueless, they just don't get it.
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on April 19, 2016
This movie is quirky and goofy its a classic. If your into weird quirky movies with bad acting and hilarious situations that point toward the sadistic, This is the movie for you. This movie is an originally bizarre movie that seems to just get funnier as the movie goes along.
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VINE VOICEon November 8, 2012
A group of traveling strangers are lured to a mysterious Southern town called Pleasant Valley as the people there greet them with hospitality including free hotel rooms and service, unknown to them the townsfolks are cannibalistic murderers who are part of an unusual curse.

Co-starring playboy model Connie Mason, this is Herschell Gordon Lewis's second of his "Blood Trilogy" and more darker than Blood Feast. The violence is a bit more graphic here especially the cringe inducing finger cutting scene which makes me flinch but the screenplay is more well written than "Blood Feast" here as it's quite original. This movie made a fortune in drive-ins like "Blood Feast" did and made audiences sick yet still is cruel, this movie influenced many outdoor killer movies like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Mother's Day" and others of it's kind. sure the acting is typical b-movie but hey it's still a b-movie you know, it's sick but kind of charming and there is a bizarre twist in the end.

The transfer is Ok despite some grain and some scratches in some spots but the sound is decent and the extras are nice like trailer, audio commentary, outtakes and still-poster gallery.
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on October 1, 2011
TWO THOUSAND MANIACS

Two Thousand Maniacs will stand in "The Blood Trilogy" as one of the first films to actively use gore to make its point. You will find none of the subtleties of Val Lewton or Hitchcock to build suspense or imagination. Instead, 2000 Maniacs is going right for the jugular, which now that I think of it, may be one of the few spots not severed in this movie.

The plot is simple, but pretty ingenious. A small southern town celebrates it's centennial by throwing a big bash in which 6 northern Yankees are the guests of honor. Only one of these guests questions the strange arrangement and wonders aloud why a group of strangers from the north should hold such high honors during this Rebel Bar waving celebration. But the others don't think much of it and one by one succumb to the real intentions of the party goers, which is of coarse bloody, ritualistic, murder.

Which could have been pretty boring except that each murder is committed in a festive and unusual fashion. People are chopped to bits, quartered by horses, rolled down hills in barrels lined with nails...you get the point. All the deaths are graphic, filled with gore, with each victim being summarily tortured before being dispatched so as to ensure the townsfolk are having a good time.

It sounds base, but the movie never falls into repetitive slaughter the way so many similar films do. Each scene movies fluidly to the next, keeping the pace lively and fresh. It also succeeds to create an interesting ensemble of characters, mainly those of the townsfolk. They are so creepy and backward that you really feel grossed out by them, but they do their parts well.

I wouldn't say this is one of the greatest horror films ever made. It is slow at times, and lacks a certain expertise behind the camera, but for low-budget horror, it's worth watching. It also has an interesting ending you wont see coming, and a really great soundtrack. Check it out.
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on April 3, 2000
The transfer is fantastic! Not to mention the movie itself which, as all H G Lewis fans know, is utterly depraved and fantastic! This is definitely not to miss. The commentary is great, with David Friedman (think that's how it's spelled) and good ol' Hersch himself! Very informative, you can actually learn some things from these masters of shlock. The DVD is great, the movie is better. Great music!
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on December 21, 2012
As BLOODFEAST predates the slasher film, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS predates the redneck cannibal film. Movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre owe a lot of debt to this film. TWO THOUSAND MANIACS revolves around a couple who roll into a ghost town and are the guests of honor at a Confederate centennial celebration. What they don't know is that the twisted citizens of Pleasant Valley are vengeful ghosts of the Civil War, determined to dispatch their "guests" in deviously unpleasant ways. Simply put, Two Thousand Maniacs is the original redneck cannibal movie.

This film has some very interesting murder sequences in it that make the film worth a watch or two as there is really no other film like it. It is a unique experience. Next to BLOOD FEAST this is probably Herschell Gordon Lewis' best work.
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on March 24, 2001
This movie is odd to say the least. First of all... its not scary haha I'm sorry but... its not. Although its entertaining... and I really enjoy the commentary on this. I've only seen a little of blood feast and I can assure you that is a much more thrilling movie. But, this concept is great! At first its kinda bad... but... once you watch it 2 times and watch it with your friends you'll enjoy it. Its not half as gory as it says... maybe in the 60s' but not anymore! Still... worth a look and entertaining. Definatly more gore than horror.
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