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Film / Two Thousand Maniacs!

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Two Thousand Maniacs! is a 1964 American Splatter Horror film written and directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis. The second entry in his informal "Blood Trilogy" Thematic Series, following Blood Feast and followed by Color Me Blood Red, it is known for its scenes of full-color gore and torture, which – along with its B-Movie quality direction and acting – have earned the movie a cult following.

Six Yankee tourists are lured into the quaint Southern town of Pleasant Valley, where they're selected as the "guests of honor" for the town's Civil War centennial. They quickly discover, however, that the festivities are nothing like they expected, as they are forced to take part in a series of extremely violent and gory games.

Two Thousand Maniacs! was remade by writer-director Tim Sullivan in 2005 as 2001 Maniacs, starring Robert Englund and Lin Shaye, with Peter Stormare appearing in a minor role. A direct-to-video sequel, entitled 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams (and replacing Englund with Bill Moseley), was released in 2010. It had the townspeople going on a road trip – due to the fact that there weren't enough fresh Yankees coming into town for them to kill – and coincidentally running into the cast of a reality show, centered around wealthy socialites Rome and Tina Sheraton.

The name of the alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs is a Shout-Out to this film, as is the title of John Waters' film Multiple Maniacs.

This film and its remake contain examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Bea is killed when a few townsfolk hold her down on a desk and one of them chops her arm off with an axe. The rest of her limbs are chopped off off-screen and her torso is seen being roasted on a spit.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Georgia was a state in the Confederacy, and that's about the only historically accurate part of this movie. In spite of being Civil War-era ghosts, the townspeople all dress in modern (1960s) clothing and hairstyles and have no issue acclimating to modern technology. They even use the wrong flag for the Confederacy, and call themselves "Southerners" as opposed to the period-correct "Southerons". Amusingly, the town where the film was shot (St. Cloud, Florida) was founded in 1909, more than four decades after the Civil War — and what's more, it was originally developed as a retirement community for Union war veterans.
    • Averted in the remake, in which everything is almost painstakingly period-accurate, save for Mayor Buckman's Confederate flag eye-patch. The crew borrowed all the buildings, clothing and props from Westville, Georgia (a town built explicitly as a Civil War historical tourist attraction à la Colonial Williamsburg). Some of the items featured in the movie are actual Civil War artifacts!
  • Antagonist Title: The two thousand maniacs refers to the population of the town which terrorize Tom and his friends.
  • Answer Cut: A rather odd version. After the "guests of honor" have been checked in to their hotel rooms, two of them make comments that are answered by a pair of locals, despite the latter being outside on the street and seemingly unable to hear the former. Then again, they are ghosts.
    Beverly: Such a strange little affair. It's almost like Halloween.
    Betsy: [laughing] This is better than Halloween!

    Bea: It's like John C. Calhoun's version of trick-or-treat.
    Harper: Why, dear – we're gonna provide the tricks, and them folks up there, they're gonna provide the treats. [laughs uproariously with Betsy]
  • Ax-Crazy: The entire town seems to be completely and dangerously out of their minds.
  • B-Movie: Filmed with a budget of $65,000.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: At the remake's end, all the tourists diverted into the town have been killed.
  • Behind the Black: In the remake, the remaining protagonists sit down in a saloon to discuss their options once they begin to realize something's up. No sooner do they formulate a plan than they notice everyone in the bar and then some has managed to silently crowd around in front of their table.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Lester in the remake. His "darlin'" Jessabelle is a sheep.
  • Big Bad: Mayor Joseph Buckman leads the festivities.
  • Bond One-Liner: In both the remake and its sequel, Huck says this after killing the last two survivors:
    "Damn Yankees."
  • Bury Your Gays:
  • Cold Ham: Peter Stormare as a hardass college professor, who manages to devour the scenery without raising his voice.
  • Deep South: The film is set in a Southern U.S. town and the townspeople exhibit many of the stereotypes. Rednecks, moonshiners, backwoods and swamps as far as the eye can see.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Rufus in the remake is hinted to be homosexual, and he's one of the murderous townspeople.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Played for Laughs in the remake; Mayor Buckman has no problem slaughtering and cannibalizing Yankees, but he's definitely more than a bit concerned about his son Lester's "relationship" with Jessabelle... who happens to be a sheep.
    • Curiously, in the remake the townsfolk express no prejudice towards their fellow ghosts who are Black, not only treating them like equals, but even celebrating the birth of a mixed-race child (to a white woman and her former slave, no less). This is actually explained in Field of Screams: Crow mentions that when the Union troops destroyed the town they killed everyone, even the slaves. This collective trauma caused a new identity to emerge among the townspeople, one that overpowered the previous racial and social order. Now, Black Americans who are not their fellow ghosts...
  • Evil Plan: The people of Pleasant Valley seek to kill Northerners in retaliation for being massacred during the Civil War.
  • Exploitation Film: The film is largely an excuse to introduce tons of guts and gore.
  • Eye Scream: In the remake, it's explained that Mayor Buckman lost an eye in the massacre of the town. He now wears an Eyepatch of Power.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Pretty much all of the townspeople, particularly Mayor Buckman.
  • A Fête Worse than Death: The protagonists are ostensibly the guests of honor for the town's centennial festival. Which turns out to be the centennial of the townspeople being massacred by renegade Union soldiers at the end of The American Civil War.
  • Fingore: Harper lures Bea out to the woods and cuts her thumb off before dragging her to the mayor's office, the medical fees quite literally costing her An Arm and a Leg.
  • Freudian Excuse: In Field of Screams, after Val says that her mother was a prison guard (when explaining how she knows how to handle a gun), Black Cherry says that that explains a lot.
  • Gorn: People getting drawn and quartered, getting sliced in half, getting their faces ripped off, getting a skewer up the ass... yessir, there is gore here and then some!
  • I Am a Humanitarian: In the original film, it is implied that the townspeople (and possibly also the unwitting Northerners who are still alive) consume portions of Bea's limbs, since they are shown being roasted on a spit during the barbeque.
  • Pet the Dog: Played with in the remakes as Mayor Buckman doesn't want to kill Anderson. Primarily as Anderson is also a Southerner and thus "one of them." But also as a Southerner he won't count towards the total. The sequel actually states only people from the Northern United States count, Americans from anywhere else, even once who immigrated there, don't count.
  • Road-Sign Reversal: The people of Pleasant Valley lure tourists to their town by flipping an arrow sign to make it direct to their town.
  • The Savage South: It's about a town in the U.S. South whose inhabitants kill tourists.
  • Shout-Out: At one point Harper is shown perusing an issue of DC's romance comic Heart Throbs.
  • Still Fighting the Civil War
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The original's main theme is a sprightly bluegrass number, not exactly the theme to be expected for one of the early examples of a Gorn film.
  • Team Title: The "Two Thousand Maniacs" of the title refers to the population of Pleasant Valley, who as a whole are the antagonists of the film.
  • Vanishing Village: The twist in the original is that Pleasant Valley is actually one of these; when the few survivors call the police and return to the town, they discover it gone, and the police tell them that Pleasant Valley was never rebuilt after being destroyed during the Civil War, complete with finding a marker about the event, the heavy implication being that the townspeople seen through the film were actually vengeful ghosts.
  • War Reenactors: The framework for setting up the deaths is that the protagonists are supposedly participating in a war re-enactment.