The Thing With Two Heads (1972)

Article 4353 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-31-2013
Directed by Lee Frost
Featuring Rosey Grier, Ray Milland, Don Marshall
Country: USA
What it is: Double header

A bigoted white surgeon who specializes in transplants discovers how to move a head onto another body, and since he is dying of chest cancer, he decides to have his own head moved to the body of a donor. However, the donor turns out to be a condemned black man determined to prove his innocence. Once both heads are on the same body, the condemned man escapes.

This notorious stinker is perhaps the most famous of the handful of two-headed man movies. As a serious thriller, it’s ridiculous. As an action movie, it’s incompetent; the lengthy chase scene that makes up the middle of the movie is tedious and badly edited. Consequently, it would have been best if the makers of this movie had decided from square one to commit to a comedy; that’s the only way it would have worked. Somewhere along the line somebody realized it’s humorous potential; most of the best moments of the movie are intentionally comic. Even with going that route, though, they would have needed a sharper, wittier script; as it is, all too often I get the sense that not much real effort was put into it. However, I do admire the special effects during the transplant sequence, as the fake heads being used look very real indeed. There’s some campy fun to be had with this movie, but I do think of the movie as a missed opportunity that occasionally showed some promise.

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