Friday, November 20, 2009

Heads Up

I know I've briefly mentioned a movie that absolutely freaked out my sister, to the point where even the humming of it's sappy 70's theme song "It's Incredible," sung by Bobby Doyle, would drive her screaming from the room. I believe she was maybe five when we saw this movie at a drive-in with our parents. I have no idea what the other picture was. I certainly remember thinking it was bad, even then. Of course, ten years later I learned to appreciate its stank in a completely different way.

And since I'm on a Bad Movie jag, I ran across the trailer for The Incredible 2 Headed Transplant and thought I'd talk about it a bit, which I will in a sec - because as I started thinking about this movie, I realized there are lots and lots of bad Head movies - some of them are about multi-headed horrors, many of them are about detached heads, kept alive through the science of a mad genius and still some of them are beyond description.

The Incredible 2 Headed Transplant (or TI2HT as it shall hence be called), has the distinction of having some surprising talent among it's cast, chiefly Bruce Dern as the mad scientist who is experimenting on animal head transplantation. Why? Who knows? It seemed like a good idea at the time, I suppose. Somehow (I seem to have blocked most of it's plot from my memory, and for good reason I am sure), he ends up grafting the head of a criminally insane killer onto the body of mentally-challenged Hillbilly behemoth, with the usual disastrous results. Scooby-Doo's Shaggy, Kasey Casem is on hand as Bruce's old college buddy and Pat Priest (Marilyn on "The Munsters") is the Dumbsel in Distress. Quite simply, a terrible film from schlock-house AIP:

Of course, the following year, AIP came back with the same plot, this time grafting the head of a rich, White bigot onto the body of an African-American behemoth in The Thing with Two Heads. The once-great Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend; The Uninvited) is reduced to a comic foil alongside former NFL star Rosie Greer in a patently ridiculous exploitation movie:

Of course, long before either of those movies, two Americans made a 1959 Japanese horror movie called The Manster, about a man who (once again, thanks to a mad scientist) literally grows a second version of himself, starting with a boil that turns out to be an eye growing on his shoulder. Eventually, a head pops out and finally the new, evil version seperates itself, completely. The movie is paid homage by Sam Raimi in Army of Darkness, and was the inspiration for a two-headed man costume that won me three "Scariest Costume" awards when I was about 9, or so. Mom gave me a Styrofoam wig head which I decorated with paint and plastic face parts and a wig from Woolworth's and she helped me attach it to my shoulder with masking tape, if I remember. I wish I could have found footage from this film. If anyone knows of a site where I can get some, please let me know.

And while two heads may be creepy, one head can be pretty awful, all by itself. Take The Brain That Wouldn't Die, please. (Sorry, had to). A mad scientist (are you sensing a pattern, here?) is speeding with his fiancee in the car resulting in a wreck which decapitates the poor young lady. Of course, being a mad scientist in love, he takes her head back to his lab and hooks it up to wires and fluids and voila! she is alive (sort of). As the charming fellow tries to find a replacement body onto which he can transplant his beloved's coconut, she develops a psychic connection to her beloved's last experiment, a mutant kept chained behind a door. This 1962 piece of crap makes for a delightfully hilarious episode of MST3K:

And a head isn't always necessary... often, just a brain will do, as in 1963's They Saved Hitler's Brain (aka The Madmen of Mandoras):

The brain might even be invisible without the aid of special equipment. Hell, it might even have antennae:

Mmmm! Flying, giant, slimy-looking stop-motion braaaaiiiiinnnssss!

So, are two heads actually better than one? I suppose it all depends on your perspective. Personally, it doesn't matter, because a Head movie will never be good (unless it's a joke on "Futurama"). And while two heads aren't necessarily any worse, one can be pretty awful. Of course, there is one really bad Head movie that actually scares me:

More, anon.

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