Friday, May 14, 2010

16th May 2010: The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant!

The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant

USA 1971 colour

aka The Incredible Transplant

Director Anthony M. Lanza Writers James Gordon White, John Lawrence

Cast Bruce Dern (Roger), Pat Priest ( Linda), Casey Kasem (Ken), Albert Cole (Cass), “Donald Brody”/Gary Kent (Motorcyclist)

Hola, Schlock Fiends, and welcome to Season Four of Schlock Treatment. It's been a few months between drinks owing to a slightly shonky pair of hobbit feet, but I'm now back to dancing on tables and bringing you, our loyal viewers, the weirdest in international cult cinema. Tonight we take up where we left off a few months ago, in the middle of our Seventies Grindhouse season, and for our promised film, the notorious 1971 shocker The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant.

Does anyone remember a 1972 blaxploitation horror film in which a racist Ray Milland has his head grafted onto a huge African-American football player's body? That was The Thing With Two Heads, made just twelve months after this picture, and was also released by American International Pictures, who must have smelt a trend in two-headed horrors. Which means The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant kickstarted an entire subgenre of movies, but even in a field of just two, it still comes off as the worst example of its kind.

So is the film really that BAD? Well, compared to other films we've screened on Schlock Treatment, it's positively highbrow... Bruce Dern, respected actor who, like fellow actor Jack Nicholson has run the gamut from biker nonsense to classy A Grade fare, plays Roger, obsessed surgeon in an isolated country house neck-deep in experiments on two-headed snakes and monkeys, while his pretty wife Linda (Pat Priest, the normal looking Munster) feels rightfully neglected. Enter a convicted murderer and rapist just escaped from a sanitorium – Roger, refusing to look a gift rapist in the eye, splices his head onto the body of his groundkeeper's retarded son Danny, an innocent giant who's JUST witnessed his father's death at the hands of his second head! Roger considers both disposable since one's a career criminal and the other is...ahem...retarded...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Roger's school friend Ken, a smarmy nouveau-riche slimeball, turns up unannounced and locks eyes onto the ever-unhappy Linda rather than his buddy's outstretched hand. All is not right chez Roger, Ken suspects, as the lumbering two-headed Man Child, clad in Hootenanny dungarees, kickstarts his own murder spree at the bidding of its second, crazed alpha brain. Linda, we discover, is locked up in Roger's laboratory for safekeeping – but safe from the duo-domed rape-oid, or the claws of the salivating lothario Ken? And I wonder, can we actually pinpoint the exact moment Roger and Linda's marriage officially hits the point of no return? Answer on the back of an empty cigarette packet, kids, and send it to Briz 31.

So is The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant REALLY that bad? It's certainly a career low for both Dern and Pat Priest, and it's hard to fathom why exactly they signed on to such a wretched tinpot production, along with hipster DJ Casey Kasem (also seen opposite Dern in The Cycle Savages), a greasy meatball in real life who proves once again that he had a great face for radio. Maybe the problem is the film's two-headed nature – the ludicrous pseudo-science of a Fifties creature feature, with all the charm and class of one of AIP's lesser biker flicks. The effects are as shoddy as you'd expect, cutting from long shots of a tacked-on dummy head, to closeups of the skinnier actor standing behind the other. Cheerfully offensive to all of the senses , it'll have you grinning from ear to ear – to ear – as we unleash the beast with matching muzzles: The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant.

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