Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964, Herschell Gordon Lewis)


Not only did Herschell Gordon Lewis manage to make one of the earliest slasher gore flicks with Blood Feast, he then followed it up with an early redneck torture genre movie in Two Thousand Maniacs! Sure the acting remains wonderfully awful, yet beneath that and some cheesy moments lies a movie that in 1964 examines the South being unable to let the Civil War go. Sadly that aspect remains more relevant than ever, and it makes me appreciate this movie more than others do I suppose.

That and the kills are really disturbing and gory for a drive in 1960s flick. Lewis was not afraid to go beyond any lines of good taste, and the poor Northerners who stumble into the town of Pleasant Valley find out all too well how thirsty for revenge the folks of the town are, via multiple different ways of violence! He helps create the cliches of the two dumb redneck guys responsible for orchestrating the chaos, the victims who fail to realize what is happening until it’s too late, and a fun twist ending that would be at home in any modern horror movie.

Lewis did all this, and helped along with others to drag the horror movie genre into the modern era kicking and screaming. I want to see more of his other movies, and I think myself and others have more of an appreciation for his movies, good or bad. This flick will stick with me for a while, that’s for sure.

Horrorfest 2018 Presents: Sleepaway Camp (1983, Robert Hiltzik)


Ah the 1980s, a time full of goofy slasher flicks like Sleepaway Camp. Made at the height of the horror movie craze Robert Hiltzik’s movie reflects the typical 80s horror movie: low budget, full of mostly unknowns, featuring plenty of horrible deaths and some cheesy music. The end credits features something called “Angela’s Theme” and it oddly fits a movie where the unseen killer stalks their victims. Too bad I already knew who the killer was, having been spoiled already thanks to years of being online and the fact that this movie came out decades ago. Oh to have been in the theater for this one and seen the reactions; I had to settle instead for Joe Bob Briggs’ commentary and a viewing on Shudder, neither of which are bad yet getting to see this on the big screen would be a treat. I am not sure if this is a good movie, however I enjoyed it at its basic level, and that is all that matters.

The plot is fairly simple: kids go to a camp, some of them meet horrible ends. It all revolves around quiet yet eerie Angela and her cousin Ricky, who is very protective of her. Sent to camp by Aunt Martha (Desiree GouldĀ in what is the strangest performance I have ever seen) they are at the center of a murder mystery. Naturally the film tries to hide who the killer is, and there were times when even though I knew who it was I wondered if maybe it was two people. After all there is the interesting fan theory that has Rickey helping the killer the whole time, which all things considered makes a lot of sense. I wish I could discuss the disturbing twist ending more, yet its one of those “You have to see it for yourself” moments in horror cinema. I have not viewed any of the sequels, although I sort of wish to just because its amusing that Sleepaway Camp actually had sequels. It’s an odd duck, the kind of movie after watching you ponder before moving onto something actually more interesting.

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