2000 Maniacs (1964)

“Something is very wrong with this town.”

Synopsis:
Six Yankee tourists driving through the Deep South are “invited” to Pleasant Valley for a centennial celebration of the town’s decimation by Union soldiers.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
I love the opening sentence of Peary’s review for this “terribly acted, crudely directed” cult horror flick: “I don’t necessarily mean this as a recommendation, but this is goremeister Herschell Gordon Lewis’s best film.” !!! After watching Lewis’s hideously bad Blood Feast (1963), I think I know what Peary means. With that said, I actually would recommend this movie (which inspired the name of the rock group “10,000 Maniacs”) to film fanatics who’d like to get a good sense of the “gore fest” genre. It possesses a surprisingly creepy and original premise, in which the killers are “vengeance-bent ghosts of people who were wiped out by Northern troops in 1869”, ready to slaughter their unsuspecting guests “in hideous ways”. As Peary notes, this is a “truly scary movie”; chances are you’ll feel genuine terror for these unwitting Yankees and the supernatural trouble they find themselves in.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • An extremely creepy, gruesome premise

Must See?
Yes. While certainly not for all tastes, every film fanatic should see at least one cult film by Herschell Gordon Lewis, and this is a good candidate.

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3 Responses to “2000 Maniacs (1964)”

  1. I would agree that this is HGL’s best film. He considers “A Taste of Blood” his most professional film, but at two hours long it is also one of his most boring. I don’t find “2000 Maniacs” as scary as Peary does. For me it is more of a black comedy. I don’t take any of what happens seriously. It is too campy for that. More like the cannibal scene in “Pink Flamingos”. For HGL’s second best film I would pick one which Peary doesn’t include in his book – “She Devils on Wheels”. That has a cast of women who were picked for their motorbike riding abilities, but some of whom are real naturals in front of the camera. It would make a good support feature for “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”

  2. Not a must.

    So far, I’ve only seen one Lewis film – this one, now twice. While I believe several others are listed in Peary’s book, I’m not looking forward to seeing them (though – sigh – I will eventually).

    Sadly, ‘gore fest’ flicks are a long-established film genre – but, to me, it begs the question: just because that’s the case, does that necessarily mean film fanatics should consider all of the ‘best’ of them must-sees?

    This one, for example: not only is it badly acted by all, but the gore itself (not that I’d want it to be more than this) is minimal and cartoonish. As well, the film drags in places, esp. in the 15 min.+ section that makes up the denouement. Overall, I find the film a pointless excuse for ‘entertainment’, more tiresome than scary.

    A gore film that does actually scare is ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. I would have to call that a must, even though I would do so somewhat grudgingly. Why?
    Cause I find this sub-genre rather troubling, obviously, but not simply that. Unlike other horror films based in realism – i.e., ‘Psycho’ – films like ‘TTCM’ exist (perhaps not only but) largely for the purpose of exploiting the relentless, almost pornographic terror twisted humans can bring to other humans. (But more on that when that post comes…)

    Compared to ‘TTCM’, ‘2,000 Maniacs’ is laughably inept.

    Of course, Lewis has something of an infamous name in the industry, so ffs are going to want to know what all the fuss is about. But personally, I find it necessary to keep way down the number of films in this genre that I would actually endorse.

  3. ⭐️⭐️

    Probably HGL’s best film but that’s like debating which is the best breed of cockroach. This does have a great basic idea, seems to be competently photographed and a catchy score. But, it’s ineptly written, acted and directed which is a shame because there is a great horror film premise. Even at only 87 minutes it feels badly paced. Best seen in the recent Arrow Blu-ray restoration.

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