THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972)
part of Strange Brew: Cult Films at Schlafly Bottleworks
“We transplanted my head onto your body……now shut up!”
(Description from We Are Movie Geeks) -
THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE, HEAD, GATOR BAIT, and TARANTULA are a few of the movies they’ve screened in the past at Webster University’s Strange Brew film series. Always the first Wednesday evening of every month, the fun happens at Schlafly Bottleworks Restaurant and Bar in Maplewood (7260 Southwest Ave.- at Manchester – Maplewood, MO 63143). This week, on Wednesday January 2nd at 8pm, they’re venturing it’s sheer ’70s madness with the amazing THE THING WITH TWO HEADS. Admission is only $4!
If you thought THE DEFIANT ONES was the last word in forced race relations, check out the 1972 classic THE THING WITH TWO HEADS. Ray Milland stars as transplant surgeon Max Kirshner, a mean old bigot suffering from terminal cancer, masterminding an experimental technique for transplanting heads, the goal being to save his own life. His assistant, Dr. Philip Desmond (Roger Perry), is in charge of the surgery when Dr. Kirshner lapses into a coma. Unfortunately, the only appropriate subject for the transplant operation is a wrongly-convicted black death row inmate named Jack Moss (ex-football star Rosey Grier). When Kirshner and Moss wake up to find they’re sharing a single body, mayhem ensue. No ’70s exploitation element is left out of the 1972′s THE THING WITH TWO HEADS. It has it all: car chases, motorcycle chases, liberal use of the N-word, Blaxploitation, hideous wardrobes, a fallen Oscar winner, cheesy special effects, bad dialogue (Grier’s girlfriend: “Do you have two of anything else?”), and a (two-headed) Rick Baker gorilla suit. It’s almost like some filmmakers got drunk one night and started tossing the most absurd ideas they could conjure out on the table.
Whether it’s the sight of Grier or Milland with a fake head of the other actor strapped to his neck, or the two actors squished together in a special (uncomfortable-looking) costume, THE THING WITH TWO HEADS has to be seen to be believed. I’ve seen THE THING WITH TWO HEADS many times and I’m still not sure if it’s a horror film or a comedy, but the film has undeniable charm, due in large part to its dated 70′s style, its corny, almost pathetic dialogue, its incredibly cheap sets and special effects, and of course the entire premise about this two headed monstrosity. Milland and Grier manage to keep straight faces throughout the picture, as do the other actors involved. Milland is especially fun to watch while playing his late career ‘crotchety old man’ shtick strapped cheek-to-cheek with a hulking 350-pound black dude and grumbling racist lines like, “What’s for dessert? Watermelon?” Grier isn’t much of an actor, most likely hired because his huge frame could conceal Milland trussed up behind him, but you can’t help but root for him.
The chase scene with dozens of police cars chasing the two headed man on a motor bike(which last over 15 minutes) is the centerpiece of THE THING WITH TWO HEADS and sets the mood, pace, and credibility. The movie works as a gonzo allegory for racial relations but mostly it works as a goof and it has aged marvelously. They should remake THE THING WITH TWO HEADS with Mel Gibson awakening to find his noggin transplanted on a Hasidic Jew or with Kirk Cameron’s head on the shoulders of Bruce Vilanch. Give future generations something to laugh at while throwing back home-brewed suds at Schlafly Bottleworks!