Thanks to my wonderful friend in the States, The Golden Gorilla, I've finally gotten hold of a copy of the last in the amazing trio of two-headed movies. And Folks, they're all wonderful in their own way! So far I've written about The Thing with Two Heads with Ray Milland and The Manster. Well, call this quest complete as you read this review. This little cinematic gem has mad scientists, macabre experiments, some blood, a little flesh and even a brief appearance by some bikers. Could you ask for anything more? Let's get straight into it.
Manuel Cass (Albert Cole) is a giggling psychopath. When we first see him he's slaughtered a family, and is about to cut a girl's throat when he's surrounded by police. He's captured and sentenced to life in an insane asylum. We then move on to Doctor Roger Gerard (Cult stalwart Bruce Dern) who is experimenting on an isolated farm property with his older scientist associate, Max (Berry Kroeger). Roger lives with his gorgeous wife Linda (Pat Priest, TV's Marilyn Munster!), hiding from her the true nature of his experimentation. His best friend Dr. Ken Anderson (Casey Kasem, with only a slight inflection of Scooby Doo's "Shaggy" in his voice!) visits and see what is being commited in the name of science. Various animals are having extra heads grafted onto them. We see two-headed monkeys, foxes, rabbits and even a tiny two-headed snake. Roger's idea is that eventually humans will have similar procedures done on them, with dying people's heads grafted onto human bodies that suffer irreparable brain damage. The damaged head will then be removed and a new lease on life given to the 'healthy' head. Ken promises to keep his knowledge of what Roger's up to a secret, even from Linda.
Roger also has Danny Norton (John Bloom) on the property, a giant of a man who was brain-damaged as a child, by a mine collapse. He has the mental capacity of an eight-year-old and works with his father, Andrew Norton (Larry Vincent). We see how strong Danny is when he pushes a giant tree stump over, with the help of two horses. In the meantime, Manuel Cass escapes and by sheer chance, stumbles upon Roger Gerard's farm. He attacks and ties up Roger, bloodily kills Danny's father with a garden hoe (ouch) and kidnaps the bikini-clad Linda. As Danny discovers his murdered father, he slips into a trance and it's up to Max to release Roger. They give chase, blasting Manuel with a shotgun and rescuing Linda. After Linda is sedated, Max convinces the reluctant Roger to graft the dying Cass's head onto the still-living body of Danny. So it's really Max who's the instigator of the horror to come - the assistant's turn for a change! After subduing Danny with chloroform, they operate. A few days later, Danny/Manuel wakes up, a freakish giant with two heads. Manuel quickly takes control of the weaker will of Danny, and breaks free of the laboratory.
Soon enough, the giggling two-headed monster has claimed two victims, strangling two teens necking in a car. Then he takes on a group of camping bikers, two guys and a girl, killing them all as they attack him with knives and chains. It was a pleasant surprise to see these swastika-clad, bike-riding louts find their way into the film, as your Uncle Boris is always partial to a biker movie! Ken has returned to make a meeting with Roger, but the nervous Doctor told him to leave. He goes with Roger's wishes, but as he begins to travel home he hears from the police about local murders by a "two-headed giant", and connects the dots. He returns to confront Roger and Max, and they decide to give chase to the giant. Danny/Manuel finds his way back to the Laboratory, stumbling in to find Linda in a cage! This one has everything for you exploitation denizens! Roger and Max had tried to keep the horror from her but she found out - as police were questioning them they tied, gagged and (off-screen) threw her into one of the animal cages. As usual, Danny has no control over his shared body. The psychopathic head controlling him kidnaps Linda from the cage, carrying her off to his underground tunnel, which is the place that he always gravitates to. Roger, Max, and Ken track them to the caves, finding Linda's lost shoes as they drop off her feet. Finally, Roger and Max confront their crazed creation, and only two people will escape from the collapsing rocks of the tunnel. Take a guess who!
I can only recommend this one to connoisseurs of b-movie fare. All the cast are great, with Berry Kroeger as the conniving, smarmy Max seemingly embracing his role the most. Albert Cole looks to be relishing his psychotic character with much eye-rolling, cackling and teeth-baring. Only Bruce Dern seems to somewhat be on somnambulistic auto-pilot, which is a shame. I feel he could have made more of the role given what he's capable of. Still, the rest of the cast make up for him. Poor Pat Priest certainly gets a rough time of it, playing the necessary female victim well, whether she's bound and gagged, being dragged around in a bikini or trapped in a tiny animal cage! The special effects are simple, with the two-headed creature seen from behind a lot of the time, or by Cole sticking his head over Bloom's shoulder. Nonetheless, it all looks right. The soundtrack's a lot of sixties-seventies fun, with the theme song "It's Incredible" sure to stay on your mind for some time to come. Excitingly for me, the toy robot they show lying on the ground (for some inexplicable reason) in the final shot is one of the sixties robot toys the Zeroids, and I have this very model at home! Very gratifying for this old reviewer.
Track this one down if you can, it really is a lot of fun. And to the Gorilla of Gold - this one's for you!
© Boris Lugosi and Boris Lugosi, 2005.
Review written: 09/20/2005 21:53:22