With a title like The Thing With Two Heads, you might expect some sort of, well, “thing”. Instead, we get a two-headed man — or if you prefer, a one-bodied two-person. With no gore, no death, no scares and no monster, it’s a stretch to call this a horror film; and with a goofy Dukes of Hazzard-meets-Benny Hill motorcycle chase scene that goes on for over 13 minutes, it’s a stretch to call this entertainment. The French Connection looks like a walk across the street compared to that scene.
In a setup of ultimate racial karma, sickly white Dr. Kirshner (Ray Milland) denies black Dr. Williams (Don Marshall) a job based solely on his race, only to later find that the only volunteer for his own head transplant (apparently big in the ’70s) is a big ol’ black convict, Jack Moss (Rosie Grier). So what happens next? A wacky buddy picture, of course! Sure, the set-up is contrived, but it could’ve amounted to something had the writers thought out the plot beyond the “what if” stage.
The gimmick is the gimmickiest of gimmicks, as it serves no purpose other than setting up awkward lowbrow comedy such as Moss propositioning his girlfriend, offering to cover up the white man’s head with a pillowcase — to which the racist replies, “Is that all you people ever think about?!” Or how about when Kirshner smokes a cigarette, and the smoke comes out of Moss’s mouth? Comedy, thy name is Rosie Grier! Even the camp appeal inherent in the plot wears off after 10 minutes or so. Like Black Gestapo, which these same filmmakers would later unleash — or rather, unfurl — on an unsuspecting public, The Thing with Two Heads is all promise, no payoff.