Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
I'm sure I've mentioned this before but my affinity towards watching crap movies is genetic.  Take this movie, 'The Thing with Two Heads' from 1972 for instance.  Invariably my mom will be watching television, a crap movie would come on and she would excitedly call for me and I would excitedly answer because I was gonna watch a crap movie with my mom.  I didn't know the movie was crap at the time, probably believing 'The Thing with Two Heads' to be a legitimate exploration of post civil rights race relations, but how could a movie coming on some local channel at late night, with Rosie Grier and Ray Milland's heads stuck together be anything other than a crap movie?  I watched 'The Thing with Two Heads' again the other night, for the first time in probably thirty years… and it's wretched.  Gloriously wretched.  It's actually an exploration of how a movie made forty years ago can only get more wretched with time. 

Dr. Max Kirshner (Milland) is the foremost authority on transplant surgery, but right now things aren't so good for the doc.  Cancer, arthritis, shingles, cataracts, bunions… you name it, Dr. Kirshner has it and all seems lost.  But not so fast my friends for Dr. Kirshner has been working in his secret lab on a landmark medical breakthrough.  See that gorilla with two heads?  Doc Kirsh did that.  The methodology is to sew the head of a sick gorilla onto the body with a healthy gorilla, then after a couple of weeks the sick gorilla's head catches on and then you can cut off the head of the healthy gorilla.  And now the sick gorilla is all good.  Genius!  If you ignore the simple fact this is impossible!

So it looks like his gorilla experiment was a success, which is good because the Doc has taken a major turn for the worse requiring his people to step up the plan to do this
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wacky head transplant.  Unfortunately the only body available is that of black death row inmate Jack Moss (Grier).  Did we mention that Doc Kirsh is a virulent racist?  Kirshener's right hand man Dr. Desmond (Roger Perry) knew he wasn't going to like this but whaddayagonnado?  The only reason Moss agreed to this was because he, like all death row inmates, claims innocence and figured that a few days of life would help him clear his name.  Thus when he eventually learned that the plan was to cut off his head in a couple weeks, he was none too pleased with this. 

To cut to the quick, somehow Moss breaks out of the secret lab, which is really just a basement, with this white man's head stuck to his shoulder, grabs tissue expert and fellow African American Dr. Fred Williams (Don Marshall) as a hostage, and now Moss, Doc Williams and Kirsher's head are on the run.  Good Lord are they on the run.  In what could possibly be the longest, most drawn out chase scene in cinematic history, the majority consisting of the two headed man and the hostage doc on a dirt bike, our heroes will be chased, and it will never end. 

When it does finally end the three… uh… two and a quarter men make it to the home of Moss's girl Lila (Chelsea Brown) who promptly avoids sex with her man for whatever reason, cockblocked by the second head, and then served up some fried chicken and greens just to upset Doc Kirsh who we have already established hates black folks and anything closely associated with black folks.  Gotta love his 'watermelon' crack even though everybody I know from the North Pole to Chile likes watermelon. 

What Moss needs is for Doc Williams to agree to cut off Kirshner's head and give him his life back, but Kirsh is gradually gaining control of the big man's body.  I do wonder, if Kirshner succeeds in this, how he's going to explain to the public how he's now 6'5", weighs a good 2-fiddy and is black from the chin down, but I guess he'll cross that path when he gets there.  Ultimately it will be up to Doc Williams to decide if the convicted murderer is really innocent or if the loon racist stuck on that dudes shoulder is the one who gets to live, because somebody's head has got to go.  I wonder who the brother is going to choose?  I wonder.

Directed by legendary schlock director Lee Frost, it don't get much more schlockier than 'The Thing with Two Heads', a mix of slapstick, social commentary and bad acting, mostly turned in by the great Roosevelt Grier, but we still love the man.  While the movie is pretty darned horrible, no denying that, we do have to admit watching Academy Award winner Ray Milland clinging to the back of Rosey Grier shouting racial epithets was some subversive humor if ever there was any.  And that chase scene… my goodness Lee Frost… what the heck was that?  If only Lee had sacrificed ten minutes worth of chase sequence to maybe dream up of two minutes worth of a better ending.  I hate to spoil it for you but three black people, sans racist head, driving down the street in an old Buick singing 'Oh Happy Day' didn't make to a thrilling ending to this alleged monster movie thriller.  Mind you, Moss is still an escaped death row convict, but I guess that's neither here nor there because they are singing 'Oh Happy Day', which means everything is all right.

'The Thing with Two Heads'.  Worse than I ever dreamed, and everything anybody could hope for.
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