Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Two Thousand Maniacs (1964)

Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) completes my reviews for Herschell Gordon Lewis' "Blood Trilogy" -- Color Me Blood Red (1965) and Blood Feast (1963) are the other two films so-designated, making Two Thousand Maniacs the only member of the Blood Trilogy that doesn't have "blood" right there in the title. Don't let that trick you into thinking that Two Thousand Maniacs is going to be any kind of an exercise in subtlety or restraint, though, because it's not.

It's really, really not.
Two Thousand Maniacs' plot (insofar as there is a plot) revolves around a ghostly Confederate village, Pleasant Valley, which appears every hundred years to wreak revenge on Northerners for their previous massacree (it's Brigadoon meets torture porn). A gang of good-looking young Yankees find themselves waylaid by villagers to serve as "guests of honor" at Pleasant Valley's Centennial and are subsequently dispatched in the following ways (spoiler alert!): the slutty one gets chopped up and barbequed, the grumpy one gets torn apart by race horses, the nice guy gets rolled down a hill in a nail-spiked barrel and the mousy chick gets squashed by a giant rock. The cute blonde (Connie Mason!) and her new boyfriend (Tom Wood, bless him!) manage to get away and return with the local law, only to find the town vanished once more. Heavens to Betsy!

The best thing about Two Thousand Maniacs is Lewis' rollicking theme song, which y'all better sit yourselves down and listen to right here. The guy could have been a pretty good musician if he hadn't settled for being a pretty bad filmmaker. The second best thing about Two Thousand Maniacs are the maniacs (I didn't count, so I don't know if there were two thousand), including Jeffrey Allen as Mayor Buckman and Linda Cochran as psycho nympho Betsy. The third best thing about Two Thousand Maniacs are how unhinged the murders are. It takes a special kind of mind to dream up the deaths in this movie. I mean, there's axe murderers, there's serial killers, and then there's slaughtering a guy by tying his various extremities to four different horses and sending them galloping off simultaneously. That's commitment.

Unfortunately, the murders in Two Thousand Maniacs -- however creative they get -- are too few and far between to save viewers from excruciating boredom in the face of the relentlessly dull Yankee victims, who are not killed nearly soon or often enough. All in all, Two Thousand Maniacs gets a 2/5. It's better than Color Me Blood Red, but if you just want the gist of the Blood Trilogy, pop in Blood Feast and save yourself the filler.

"Do you think the audience will be able to tell that I'm reading off cue cards?"
 FINAL GIRL: Ex-Playmate Connie Mason as Terry Adams, the personality-less wonder. You may remember Connie Mason from Blood Feast, in which she also played the Final Girl, and doing so demonstrated all the talent and creativity of a slice of Wonder Bread. Mason's lost the bad fake tan since Blood Feast and she more or less remembers to actually act this time around: even so, she can't save Terry from being stupefying boring. The brain-numbing lines Lewis gives this poor woman to say make you wish that the citizens of Pleasant Valley had celebrated their Centennial with just one more barbeque.

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