Tuesday, January 11, 2011

#158. The Thing With Two Heads (1972)

DVD Synopsis: You'll laugh your head off at this "fantastic tale" (Leonard Maltin) with "excellent effects" (Variety), tongue-in-cheek humor and the "combined" performances of Ray Milland and "Rosey" Grier as the ultimate odd couple! When a bigoted transplant surgeon learns that he's dying, he figures he'll just attach his brilliant head to another man's body. Unfortunately, his search uncovers only one suitable donor, Jack Moss (Grier)...a black convict!

Back in the 70's, there was a local program in the Philadelphia area known as Dr. Shock's Mad Theater (or, depending on the time of day, the alternate title of Dr. Shock's Horror Theater), which was essentially a Saturday afternoon UHF Creature Feature movie show. Dr. Shock, played by Joe Zawislak, would dress up as a vampire (or zombie, or...something) and do a few bits of magic (such as eating fire) before introducing that afternoon's horror / creature film. I bring up Dr. Shock only because I'm 100% positive it was on his show that I first saw The Thing With Two Heads, so going in, this film already held a certain nostalgic appeal for me. But never mind all that...even without the nostalgia factor, The Thing With Two Heads is a fun, fun movie. 

Ray Milland is very good as the terminally ill, and terminally bigoted, surgeon whose figured out a way to transplant a human head from one body to another, and football great “Rosey” Grier is also solid as the doctor's eventual body "donor". The film's opening scenes are played for full dramatic effect, and the operation sequence, where Milland's head is removed from his body, is really quite shocking. But then, once his head is attached to Grier (I don't consider the revelation of this plot twist as much of a spoiler. I mean, the movie is titled The Thing With Two Heads!), the film kicks into full comedy mode (especially prevalent in a chase scene between Grier/Milland and the police, which goes on WAAAYYY too long). All of this makes for an entertaining film.

But truth be told, the film's effective mixture of comedy and drama wasn't what ultimately held my attention.  Once the head transplant was complete, I just couldn't take my eyes off of the Grier/Milland “creature”, and really marveled at how very close the two actors had to get to each other to pull it off. I mean, they both must have been uncomfortable as hell throughout the entire shoot! 

The Thing With Two Heads is a really good time: it's strange, it's shocking, it's funny, and it was the perfect movie for Dr. Shock's Mad Theater.

Please leave a comment below... I'd love to hear from you

And, just for the hell of it, here are a few of the 'openings' for Dr. Shock's Mad/Horror Theater

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