The following IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column originally ran in the HWA NEWSLETTER in July 2010. Look for it and all 115 IN THE SPOOKLIGHT columns in the IN THE SPOOKLIGHT EBook due out from NECON EBooks later this year!
IN THE SPOOKLIGHT:
THE INCREDIBLE TWO-HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971)
By Michael Arruda
Are two heads really better than one?
Not when one head belongs to an insane murderer, as is the case in THE INCREDIBLE 2- HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971), a lurid little film which for some strange reason I happen to like a lot.
Bruce Dern, one of my all-time favorite film crazies, is cast against type as Dr. Roger Girard, a scientist who has devised a method to create two-headed beings. Why? I have no idea, and the movie doesn’t really give us a reason either.
I wish they had. It would have made things really interesting. I mean, think of the things you could do with two heads: read twice as fast, eat your meal and dessert at the same time, drive while texting, and kiss your wife while flirting with the blonde at the next table.
When an insane killer named Cass (Albert Cole) breaks into Roger’s home, attacking his wife Linda (Pat Priest – Marilyn from TV’s THE MUNSTERS!) and murdering the gardener, Roger and his assistant fight back, and the assistant shoots Cass. Before the killer dies, they attach his head to the hulking body of Danny (John Bloom), the simple-minded son of the slain gardener. Nice going!
What is it with mad scientists in the movies? Why do they always settle for less? If you were on the verge of some amazing medical breakthrough, wouldn’t you want only the best materials for your experiment? In this case, these guys have been planning for months to construct a two-headed person, and they choose for one of the heads a murderer? Don’t you think they could do a little bit better?
Our two-headed friend eventually breaks loose from the lab and goes on a murderous rampage, as the movie becomes a straightforward “monster on the loose” story during its third act.
If you can get through the horrible theme song—a song so bad it makes you wonder what racy photos the songwriter and singer had of the director—you’ll be rewarded with a deliciously lurid movie that will tickle your horror movie funny bone.
Bruce Dern is always worth watching, even in movies as bad as this. And John Bloom who played the giant Danny actually went on to appear in many genre films. He played the Frankenstein Monster in another infamously bad low-budget shocker, DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (1971), and he also appeared in HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS (1987) and STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991). He passed away in 1999.
And hey, Casey Kasem plays the hero in the film! That’s right, the Casey Kasem, of America’s Top 40 fame, and the voice of Shaggy from the SCOOBY DOO cartoons.
The screenplay by James Gordon White and John Lawrence never rises above standard low-budget 1970s horror fare, but that’s part of the fun. Believe it or not, these same two guys also wrote the screenplay for THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972) (starring Ray Milland and Rosie Grier!)
Director Anthony M. Lanza does an adequate job with the material, but his idea of a scary scene is the 2-headed monster fighting chain wielding biker dudes. This is the type of movie best watched at the Drive-In Theater. You can go for the same effect by watching it at home late at night on a hot summer evening with the windows open.
The special effects are pretty bad. You’ll laugh at the long shots of the obviously fake rubber head bouncing up and down on John Bloom’s shoulder. It looks like something out of a Monty Python sketch.
THE INCREDIBLE 2-HEADED TRANSPLANT isn’t really all that incredible, unless you interpret “incredible” to mean unbelievable. But it is an entertaining little piece of 70s horror cinema, and it’s a nice reminder of what low-budget horror movies were like back then.
© Copyright 2010 by Michael Arruda