Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Thing With Two Heads (1972)

Some movie ideas are so phenomenally stupid that one has to admire the nerve of the filmmakers involved for seeing the idea through to fruition. And if a respectable actor can be persuaded to participate, then the conditions are right for the creation of entertaining awfulness. In this instance, the respectable actor is Ray Milland, playing a surgeon experimenting with the transplantation of heads because he’s dying of cancer but wants to preserve himself from the neck up after he croaks. At the beginning of the picture, we see that Milland has created a gorilla with two heads (one original, one a transplant), and the unapologetic way the filmmakers showcase a stunt performer wearing an unconvincing gorilla suit sets the craptastic tone. Before long, Milland slips into a coma and his flunkies attach his noggin to the shoulder of a death-row inmate played by former NFL star Roosevelt “Rosie” Grier. Little problem: The convict is black and the doctor is a flaming racist. The ebony-and-ivory racial banter is flaccid, Grier is awful (though likeable), it takes forever for the action to kick into gear, and the motorcycle-chase scene is endless, but the absurdity factor is such that watching Grier play scenes with Milland strapped to his back has inherent train-wreck appeal. Plus, every so often the movie enters full-on bizarro mode, like when Milland conspires to kill Grier while Grier naps in the middle of a chase scene, or when actors bark lines like this one: “Cut down the dosage of Barbitol to the black head!”

The Thing With Two Heads: FUNKY

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