The Incredible Two Headed Transplant/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
In this early 70s sci-fi/horror film, Bruce Dern plays Roger Girard, a scientist who is experimenting with two headed transplants on animals. It turns out Roger has been laid off from his high paying hospital job because of a nervous breakdown he suffered. Roger's wife Linda (the sexy Pat Priest) is growing estranged from him because of his constant work. Roger's best friend is the cheerful, smooth talking doctor Ken (the iconic Casey Kasem). Ken comes over to see Roger and is shown his two headed animal test subjects. Ken is impressed but when Roger explains his goal is to work on human head transplants, Ken begins to question his morals. Meanwhile, Roger's groundskeeper Andrew and his giant retarded son Danny (John Bloom) are trying to remove a large tree stump in the yard. Danny uses his might and gets the stump out of the ground. Filled with happiness, Danny and Andrew enjoy their bonding moment. Ken watches this and shakes his head in pity.
Later that night, Ken stops by again and is leaving after some drinks. NOTE: This is a really funny, over the top moment which made me laugh out loud, as Roger, Ken and Linda all laugh like goofs and stumble towards the door. It's one of the most obviously staged shots in the entire movie and it sticks out like a sore thumb. You can nearly hear the director yell "ACTION!". Outside, Danny is still feeling excited by his afternoon triumph of removing the large tree stump and is swinging an axe wildly. Just swinging it like a baseball bat as he walks around aimlessly. When Ken opens the door to leave, Danny almost nails him with it. Ken is now shaken, his cheery mood ruined. Roger immediately takes the axe from Danny and tells him to go home right away.
When Manuel Cass (Albert Cole) an escaped convict (who we are introduced to before the opening credits) shows up at the Girard home, he ties Roger up, kidnaps Linda and kills Andrew. Danny stops by to give Linda some flowers he picked in the woods and finds Roger literally in a bind and his father dead from a blow to the head with a hoe. Danny is in shock and holds his dead father, now staring off into space and mumbling incoherently. Roger and his Igor stand-in Max (Barry Kroeger) give chase to Cass and finally catch up to him attempting to rape Linda. Roger takes out his double barreled shotgun and shoots Cass in the back, killing him.
After this truly disastrous event, Roger and Max decide to go forward with their experiments. They use Danny's body and transplant Cass' head onto it, creating a truly messed up two headed monster. Putting it plainly, it's a lumbering retarded man-child/psycho beast. Upon waking up from their post-procedural medicine induced stupor, Danny-Cass go nuts and break out of the lab and head to where Danny likes to hang out, an old abandoned mine shaft. While Roger and Max evade the police (who are now looking for Andrew and Danny), the two headed monster begins to attack random people in the area. I have to say, Albert Cole's performance as the maniacally giggling, sadistic Manuel Cass is truly creepy. He forces the innocent Danny to do his evil bidding and berates him constantly. Danny seems to just constantly shake his head, whining dissaprovingly as Cass controls his actions. This mixture of evil and innocence give a pretty strong impact to the film's otherwise hokey story. It also should be said that Casey Kasem's Ken is completely corny and comical to observe. Some of his line readings are just too much. This is the guy who did the voice of Shaggy on Scooby Doo don't forget. He definitely didn't learn how to act at the Actor's Studio. Coincidentally, Ken dresses exactly like a character on that cartoon would. Big brass belt buckle, silk scarf, huge collared dress shirts that almost cover his head. Whenever he's onscreen, something seems off.
The next AIP film that followed this film's plot was The Thing With Two Heads which came out about a year later and substituted a black man and a cruel racist for the retarded man and evil psycho. Comparing the two, The Incredible Two Headed Transplant is definitely more thrilling, whereas The Thing With Two Heads is like a sci-fi/action comedy. Both films were low budget projects that did a relatively good job with their FX sequences. After all, you have to put them in context, these are early 70s exploitation films that played drive-ins. Lets be honest, they're campy, over the top, entertaining pieces of pop culture cinema that aren't really meant to be anything else.
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.