BAMF Blaxploitation Archive – THE THING WITH TWO HEADS

thing two headBAMF’s Blaxploitation Archive is a collection of reviews originally written in the 1990s that appeared in the pages of BadAzz MoFo. This review and many others have been reprinted and collected in BadAzz MoFo’s Book of Blaxploitation, Volume One, which is now available for purchase.

THE THING WITH TWO HEADS 1972 director: Lee Frost; starring: Ray Milland, Rosey Grier, Don Marshall, Roger Perry, Chelsea Brown
Man, what I would have given to be at the meeting when the dynamic duo of schlock filmmaking Lee Frost and Wes Bishop—the same guys who brought us The Black Gestapo—pitched this one to Samuel Z. Arkoff over at American International Pictures. Frost and Bishop, riding high on the success of such earlier classics as Chain Gang Women and Chrome and Hot Leather would have sat across from Arkoff, and though I’m not sure who it would have been, one of them would have said, “You know that picture you did last year, The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant? Well, we got a picture just like that, only it’s the head of a bigoted white man that gets transplanted to the body of a colored guy.”

And then I imagine that Arkoff nodded his head in a knowing way I’m sure he did whenever he knew he had a hit on his hands and said, “I like it. We can get Ray Milland to play the bigot, he just did a picture for me about killer frogs, so he’ll do anything.”

With Milland on board as bigoted doctor Max Kirshner—because he no doubt saw the artistic challenge of playing one half of a two-headed monster—all that was need was someone to play the colored guy, Jack Moss. When both Fred Williamson and Jim Brown looked at what could not have been more than a fifteen-page script and said, “You gotta be fucking kidding,” someone got the bright idea to approach Rosey Grier. And the rest, as they say, is history.

If an award was given to brilliantly ridiculous film ides that aren’t realized to the fullest of their audacious potential, it would have to go to The Thing With Two Heads. This is hands down one of the most ludicrous concepts ever—right up there with Change of Mind, the movie about a white guy’s brain transplanted into the body of black man, starring Raymond St. Jacques—but sadly the film seldom lives up to it’s insane premise. For starters, it takes nearly thirty minutes to introduce Grier as a wrongfully convicted death row inmate who agrees to donate his body to a secret experiment. Of course, he’s shocked to find the head of bigoted Max grafted to his body when he awakes from surgery—and that’s good for a few laughs. But then comes the extended chase sequence that is not-so-cleverly used to pad out close to a third of the film. By the time Rosey hooks up with his woman, who is helping him prove his innocence, the movie starts getting good again, but sadly there’s less than thirty minutes left to go.

Yes, there are entertaining moments, but I’m not fully convinced this was really supposed to be a comedy—too much of the film is played straight. Personally, I really think this would have been better as a television sitcom. Every week Max and Jack could have some wacky adventure, and Jack would say to Max, “Now you know, you got to go.”

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2 Responses to “BAMF Blaxploitation Archive – THE THING WITH TWO HEADS”

  1. Spider Baby Says:

    That chase scene seemed like it went on forever, overall I thought it was pretty entertaining though.

  2. L13 Says:

    i saw this on tv as a kid and it spooked the shit out of me.
    i remembered it as being disturbing.
    as an a adult i reviewed it and found it as unintended camp.

    the soundtrack is pretty good at times and while not valuable …it doesn’t pop up often

    rosey almost saves this flick …key word-almost

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