Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1971)

In actor Bruce Dern’s chatty autobiography Things I’ve Said, but Probably Shouldn’t Have, one of the chapters is titled “Star of the Second-Best Two-Headed Transplant Movie of 1971.” The man knows what he’s talking about. Whereas The Thing With Two Heads (which was actually released in 1972) is campy fun that tries to wring jokes from its absurd plot, Two-Headed Transplant plays the premise straight, with deadly results. Dern plays a riff on Dr. Frankenstein, but instead of obsessively performing an obscene experiment, he’s forced into the act by circumstances that make his character more or less sympathetic; this mealy-mouthed approach to dramaturgy underscores that the picture can’t decide what it’s trying to accomplish. Inappropriately plaintive (and poorly edited) music punctuates leisurely episodes leading to the fusion of a hulking simpleton with the head of a psychotic murderer. Why anyone might consider either patient a prime candidate for the operation is never properly explained in the godawful script, and by the time the bicranial creature starts its rampage two-thirds of the way through the movie’s dreary running time, it’s hard to care what happens next. Dern is on autopilot in this one, blandly reciting pointless dialogue and periodically trying to insert pathos into atrociously written and directed scenes. Famed DJ Casey Kasem appears as Dern’s bestie, which ups the kitsch factor but not the entertainment value, and the violent finale is so crudely shot that it’s hard to feel much of anything except shame for everyone involved.

The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant: LAME

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