Two Thousand Maniacs!

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Two Thousand Maniacs!
2000maniacs.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Produced by David F. Friedman
Written by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Starring William Kerwin
Connie Mason
Jeffrey Allen
Music by Larry Wellington
Cinematography Herschell Gordon Lewis
Edited by Robert Sinise
Production
  company
Jacqueline Kay (as The Jacqueline Kay, Inc.)
Friedman-Lewis Productions
Distributed by Box Office Spectaculars
Release date(s) 20 March 1964
Running time 87 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $65,000 (estimated)

Two Thousand Maniacs! is a 1964 splatter film written and directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis. It is the second part of what the director's fans have dubbed "The Blood Trilogy", a trio of films starting with 1963's Blood Feast and ending with 1965's Color Me Blood Red. The film stars 1963 Playboy Playmate Connie Mason. It was remade in 2005 as 2001 Maniacs, starring Robert Englund. The story of the film is inspired by the 1947 Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon.[1]

Plot[edit]

Six Yankee tourists are lured into the fictional small Southern town Pleasant Valley by "redneck" citizens to be the guests of honor for the centennial celebration of the day Union troops destroyed the town. The tourists are separated and forced to participate in various sick games which lead to their gory deaths. After discovering the nefarious plans of the townspeople, the two remaining tourists manage to escape. They then return with a local sheriff, only to discover that the town has disappeared. The film ends with two of the townspeople revealing that the townspeople are really vengeful spirits looking forward to the next centennial in 2065, when Pleasant Valley will rise again to resume its vendetta against the Yankees. They walk into the fog and disappear.

Production[edit]

Two Thousand Maniacs! was filmed in 15 days, early in 1964, in the town of St. Cloud, Florida. According to a contemporary report, the entire town participated in the film.[2]

The film was the feature film debut of a nonprofessional Illinois stage actor named Taalkeus Blank (nicknamed "Talky" his entire life) (b. 1910 - d. 1991) who played Pleasant Valley Mayor Buckman. He used the pseudonym "Jeffery Allen" in all of his film appearances because he was never a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Director Lewis was so impressed by Blank's ability to perfectly mimic any type of Deep South accent that he hired Blank to appear in many of his later films, among them Moonshine Mountain (1964), This Stuff'll Kill Ya! (1971) and Year of the Yahoo! (1972), playing various Southern-accented characters under the Jeffrey Allen pseudonym.

Critical reception[edit]

Allmovie wrote, "drive-in gore king Herschell Gordon Lewis reached a creative peak with this darkly comic slaughterfest".[3]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 31%, based on 13 reviews, signifying "rotten".[4]

Critical Analysis[edit]

Two Thousand Maniacs! introduced drive-in theater audiences to the formulaic plot-line of Southern gore films: Northern outsiders who are stranded in the rural South are horrifically murdered by virulent, backwoods Southerners [5] This subgenre of grindhouse peaked with the release of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), 10 years after Two Thousand Maniacs!

According to Allison Graham, during the Civil Rights Movement, television and mainstream narrative films used the "rednecks" caricature rather than a realistic depiction of white Southerners like the televised news of the era. Films that tried to comment on the issue of race relations were commercial failures.[6] However, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ plotline in Two Thousand Maniacs! focuses on the ghost of a violent, vengeful Confederacy, and is aware of the region’s violent history and place in the anxiety of the rest of the United States.[7] Despite the lack of African-American characters, the racial element of the violent South does not lurk far beneath the surface. The film sensationalizes historical anxieties that the rest of the nation held towards the South’s (and its white inhabitants) history of extra-legal violence, perceived primitivism, and unresolved regional conflict.[8] The 2005 remake, 2001 Maniacs, recreates the grotesque "yokelism" of the original.

In his essay "Remapping Southern Hospitality", Anthony Szczesiul explains the film’s use of Southern hospitality and other Southern stereotypes: “The film’s ironic parody of southern hospitality highlights the performative nature of the discourse. When Mayor Buckman delivers his promise of southern hospitality in his thick, cartoonish accent, the reference is immediately recognizable to all–the characters in the film, its actors and director, its original audience, and by us today–but here the possibility of southern hospitality is transformed into a cruel joke: the visitor becomes victim.[9]

Deaths[edit]

  • Dismembering a woman with an axe, and thereafter roasting her in a barbecue pit;
  • Staging a "horse race" in which a man is ripped limb from limb;
  • Rolling a man downhill in a barrel embedded with nails;
  • Crushing a woman with a boulder held aloft in a contraption resembling a carnival-style dunk tank.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doll & Morrow 2007, p. 163.
  2. ^ Romer 2000, pp. 63–64.
  3. ^ Cavett Binion. "Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)". Allmovie. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Two Thousand Maniacs". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  5. ^ Graham, Allison. Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2001. ISBN 0-8018-7445-9. p. 168-169.
  6. ^ Graham, Allison. Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2001. ISBN 0-8018-7445-9. p. 168-169.
  7. ^ Szczesiul, Anthony. "Re-mapping Southern Hospitality: Discourse, Ethics, Politics." European Journal of American Culture 26.2 (2007). pg.133.
  8. ^ Szczesiul, Anthony. "Re-mapping Southern Hospitality: Discourse, Ethics, Politics." European Journal of American Culture 26.2 (2007). pg.132.
  9. ^ Szczesiul, Anthony. "Re-mapping Southern Hospitality: Discourse, Ethics, Politics." European Journal of American Culture 26.2 (2007). pg.132.

Sources[edit]

  • Doll, Susan; Morrow, David (2007). Florida on Film: The Essential Guide to Sunshine State Cinema & Locations. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0-8130-3045-6. 
  • Graham, Alison (2001). Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. ISBN 0-8018-7445-9. 
  • Romer, Jean-Claude (2000). "A Bloody New Wave in the United States (July 1964)". Horror Film Reader. New York: Limelight Editions. ISBN 0-87910-297-7. 
  • Szczesiul, Anthony. "Re-mapping Southern Hospitality: Discourse, Ethics, Politics". European Journal of American Culture 26.2 (2007). pg.132. 

External links[edit]