Hey folks, Jesse here, recently I watched 1964s “hicksploitation gore flick Two Thousand Maniacs!. To get started let’s talk about “hicksploitation”. During the rise of exploitation movies in the 60s and 70s, several subgenres came forward. Sexploitation and blaxploitation among them. With grindhouse movies becoming more mainstream in the late 70s with movies like I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left people had come to expect more and more horrific violence. Well, it had to start somewhere and a fine example of that is in Two Thousand Maniacs!.
The hicksploitation movie is the one where you’re traveling through the south and gets accosted by inbred hillbillies then potentially raped or murdered. The most famous of these movies wasn’t until 1972’s Deliverance. Before all the “squealing like a pig” there was H.G. Lewis. In 1963 he came out with a splatter flick called Blood Feast and found his niche showing people with blood and gore. His follow up Two Thousand Maniacs! is the movie I saw though, so let’s talk about that one.
The Movie Itself (4/5)
The movie is about a small town in the south that is having a centennial celebration and have apparently tricked only northerners into their town via fake detours. When they arrive they townsfolk are overjoyed by the arrival. A few of the outsiders immediately feel that something is wrong. Regardless, they are convinced to stay the weekend for festivities in their honor. It’s not long when they fully realize why they are there.
The centennial represents 100 years since the civil war ended and the confederate south lost the war. Naturally, they have to slaughter six Yankees as part of their ritual. After that, it’s a lot of gory dismemberments and a good old-fashioned down-home slaughter-fest. The violence is over the top but a lot of gruesome fun. I have to say I enjoyed the movie. That’s coming from someone who already appreciates grindhouse movies.
I didn’t have to be convinced to like this movie. You might remember 2001 Maniacs from 2004 starring Robert “Freddy” Englund. It was more or less the same story actually. After seeing this one I’m not sure if the 2004 version was a sequel or rehash. Oh, the original was a better watch.
Visual/Picture Quality (3/5)
So our pals at Arrow have restored this classic to a pretty clear Blu-ray quality picture. Although there are still some scratches and rough looking areas left over from the original copy of the film. Overall not bad quality considering the source material. There are multiple bad edits in the movie but I understand time and money for enough film at the time was hard to come by. The cinematography is great in this at times. There are some great top-down shots early on in the film. The scenes of blood an violence are done in a shocking way. Especially for audiences at the time. Shocking torture horror movies really hit the mainstream with Saw and Hostel many years later. The same type of violence, without the same developments in prosthetics and practical effects.
Audio/Sound Quality (2/5)
The audio quality wasn’t great. It was unbalanced and it was sometimes hard to understand dialogue. Other times there was some buzzing in the background. I’ve noticed this about movies in modern low budget movies too. Sometimes the microphones suck or it’s an inexperienced audio guy. The acoustics just went right and I definitely noticed it. There was a spirited rendition of “The South Will Rise Again”. It’s played appropriately albeit a terrible song that promotes racism. There is a LOT of twangy guitar and banjos. That part wasn’t so bad I guess.
Special Features (5/5)
The special features are pretty decent and you get some pretty good stuff here. By that, I mostly mean that you get a whole second movie! That’s right my friend, for the lovely price of this movie you also get Moonshine Mountain. It’s not exactly a horror movie but also fits the expectations of a hicksploitation movie. Here’s what else you’ll find.
- Introductions to the films by H.G. Wells
- Two Thousand Maniacs (01:59)
- Moonshine Mountain (02:06)
- (Both are available as an option to play before the feature)
- Two Thousand Maniacs Can’t Be Wrong (09:54)
- Tim Sullivan, director of 2001 Maniacs discusses H.G. Wells and the classic original Hicksploitation Confidential (07:14)
- Visual essay on the depiction of the South in exploitation cinema
- David Friedman: The Gentlemen’s Smut Peddler (09:52)
- A tribute to producer David Friedman. Features interviews with filmmakers, Fred Olen and Tim Sullivan along with editor Bob Murawski
- Herschell’s Art of Advertising (03:33)
- H.G. Lewis shares his expert opinion on the art of selling movies
- Maniac Outtakes (16:28)
- Two Thousand Maniacs (02:14)
- Moonshine Mountain (01:29)
It’s got some cool art on a reversible liner. It’s a regular clear case. Also included was an insert called “Fish Facts” that promotes the movie, “A Fish Called Wanda”. It was a fun surprise and kind of funny.
Aspect ratio – 1.85:1
- Original Uncompressed PCM Mono
Runtime 87 minutes
Two Thousand Maniacs Overall (4/5)
Overall I was pretty impressed with the movie, packaging and special features. There’s a whole other movie on here for me to watch so I might give that one a review later on. I would have liked to see Robert Englund in the special features somewhere since he was also part of this world at one point. He always has a lot to say about the horror genre. The special features gave me a better understanding of the history of exploitation movies and their importance in film history. It continues to find its place in cinema with directors like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez as the most famous examples.
Two Thousand Maniacs! is not a magnificent achievement in acting and filmmaking that’s for sure. It was made for the fans of movies that don’t follow the normal movie rules. As long as people love to be shocked and horrified there will be someone out there mixing up a bucket of fake blood, ready to unleash their twisted vision on the cinematic world. Two Thousand Maniacs! is available from Amazon or other specialty retailers.
That’s it for now, don’t be gone too long though I’m going to be checking out, “Downrange” a new Shudder Exclusive. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk to you later.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.