Monday, November 17, 2008

Two-Thousand Maniacs! (1964)

...aka: Centennial
...aka: 2000 Maniacs

Directed by:
Herschell Gordon Lewis

This centennial celebration of twisted humor and creative bloodshed is gore king Herschell Gordon Lewis' best movie. A Southern ghost town gets revenge on Northern "Yankees" who slaughtered their citizens a hundred years earlier by luring six unsuspecting tourists into the town as "guests of honor" for their very unusual (and very twisted!) 100-year celebration. The entire town then proceeds to trick (or force) their guests into participating in some ghoulish and lethal special events. Easily seduced by the studly Harper Alexander (Mark Douglas) and sexy Southern belle Betsy Montgomery (Linda Cochran), swinger couple Bea and John Miller (Shelby Livingston and Jerome Eden) are the first to go... After getting her finger sliced off with a pocket knife, Bea's pinned down and has her arm removed with an axe (which is later roasted over a fire at a barbecue while a bluegrass band wails a song about "Rollin' my sweet baby's arm!") and John gets so sloppy drunk that he’s easily coaxed into a bad position - having both of his arms and legs each tied to a different horse - and is pulled into four bloody pieces. More straight-laced couple David (Michael Korb) and Beverly (Yvonne Gilbert) bite it when he's put in a nail-lined barrel and rolled down a hill and she's tied down to a platform and is crushed under a huge rock (a play on the carnival dunking booth game).

Only bubbly blonde Terry Adams (played by "Playboy's Favorite Playmate" Connie Mason; about as bad an actress as they come) and school teacher Tom White ("Thomas Wood"/William Kerwin) are left to scurry around town and try to get the hell outta dodge. Jeffrey Allen is great as the jovial town mayor and scenes of the laughing and leering townspeople watching the mayhem in glee are unforgettable. The Pleasant Valley Boys do the memorable bluegrass songs, including "Old Joe Clark" and "Dixie," as well as "Rebel Yell" (The South's Gonna Rise Again), which was written by Lewis specifically for this film.

Filmed in St. Cloud, Florida (now the home of Disneyland), Lewis used the real-life citizens of that town in this film. The sound recording by producer David Friedman is atrocious! In 2004, director Tim Sullivan made a pseudo-sequel/remake called 2001 MANIACS, which mixed mean-spirited gore with tasteless/juvenile humor... and somehow managed to completely bypass the element of home-spun fun and regional charm this original provides.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...