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The Thing With Two Heads (1972)

Poor Ray Milland! Once one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, near the end of his career all that was left open to him was sci-fi horror/comedy films such as Frogs (seen earlier on Neatorama) and The Thing With Two Heads (TTWTH), both from 1972. The latter was one of the "blaxploitation" films of the 1970's, the most famous of which were Shaft and Blacula, but TTWTH is one of the most notorious.

This film was released while I was still in college and again, I and a carload of rowdy dormmates saw it at a drive-in theater in Lubbock, Texas. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be funny, but we all laughed uproariously, not the least at the not-so-special effects. One scene, which has TTWTH running on foot, clearly shows the fake head bobbing around like a balloon. And sometimes the side on which the second head is located is switched. Comedy gold, I tell you. From the IMDb:

A rich but racist man is dying and hatches an elaborate scheme for transplanting his head onto another man's body. His health deteriorates rapidly, and doctors are forced to transplant his head onto the only available candidate: a black man from death row.


The Thing with Two Heads is a remarkable movie. The plot is, in a word, ludicrous. Ray Milland is nothing short of brilliant, and Rosey Grier holds his own. One infers that Milland and Grier were able to keep straight faces during the shooting; this alone stands as testament to their professionalism as actors. The aforementioned plot is reason enough to watch this movie, which, despite understandably high expectations, will not disappoint. The interchanges between Milland and Grier are humorous; they would almost qualify as banter. The special effects are unpretentious, even sublime. The movie may seem dated (it becomes quickly obvious that the shooting took place in the early 70's), but this only adds to its charm. I recommend its viewing highly.

TTWTH has achieved minor cult status and YouTube offers the complete film, which is embedded below. Like Blazing Saddles, a film like this will likely never be made again, so have a look while there is still an opportunity.

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