Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Fred Beldin

After the unprecedented success of their earlier gore epic Blood Feast, director Herschell Gordon Lewis and producer David Friedman started planning their next move. If a plotless, no-budget splatter film written and shot in a week could do such boffo business, it stands to reason that the same gore in a well-made film will double the take, right? Well, despite their best intentions, the subsequent feature, 2000 Maniacs, was successful but not the blockbuster that Blood Feast was, and Lewis went back to not trying so hard. Of course, by no means was 2000 Maniacs a technical triumph. The actors are as amateurish as any of Lewis' films and the direction is still fairly slapdash. However, the story of a crazed Southern town's revenge against a group of traveling Yankees is a lot more colorful than Blood Feast's simple-minded lone-slasher plot. Lewis has claimed that this was the first of any of his films to be thoroughly scripted, and it's stuffed with overwrought, down-home "cracker" language. The gore set pieces are graphic but not as cruel as before; the filmmakers instead opt to create mayhem with elaborate contraptions and bizarre executions. There's even a car chase -- usually not a noteworthy event in your average film -- but compared to Blood Feast's climactic (and long-winded) foot chase, it's an extremely special effect. For fans of horror, 2000 Maniacs and Blood Feast are certainly worth watching to see sacred ground get broken; for fans of grade-Z trash films, his entire canon is indispensable.