Herschell Gordon Lewis
Review by Matt Bailey
Posted on 14 October 2004
Source Something Weird Video DVD
features: October: 31 Days of Horror
A few months ago I, a lifelong Yankee, moved to the South. I am not a complete stranger to the South, my paternal grandfather having been born just a few dozen miles from where I now live, but let’s just say that the appeal of boiled peanuts is a complete mystery to me. Northerners have many misconceptions about the South, that its inhabitants all either tea-drinking belles or unreconstructed rednecks. The thing about stereotypes, however, is that they are often based on truth. In the few months I have lived here, in addition to the many good, sweet people I have met, I have encountered fluttery Scarlett O’Hara wannabees and good old boys so good and old as to make me fear for my safety lest they detect the stink of the enemy on me. It would be unkind of me to intimate that Herschell Gordon Lewis’ cracker revenge fantasy, Two Thousand Maniacs!, is a documentary, but I can’t help but see a little bit of truth in it.
A film that posits that the South is still so angry, 100 years after the Civil War (excuse me—War Between the States) that its citizens desire nothing more than to exact painful and humiliating revenge on any and all Yankees who happen to wander their way, Maniacs is a gleefully absurd and vicious social satire (as well as something of a spoof of Brigadoon) in the guise of an intensely gory horror film. The rednecks of Pleasant Valley, Georgia are so hell-bent on killing the tourists they have lured to their town, yet they have so much fun doing it, that it is hard not to want them to succeed. The Yankees in the film are such drips anyway (and Connie Mason always makes a good girl-in-peril) that one begins to take delight in the inventive methods of demise the rednecks think up for them. After all, is this not the reason we watch films like this, to get a kick out people (literally) spilling their guts?