Scientists are claiming that face transplants are not just for John Travolta and Nicholas Cage anymore; in fact, complete head transplants are now feasible.
Personally, I think they’re getting it all backwards. It’s not the head that should be transplanted but rather a whole new body grafted onto the head. Call me old fashioned but a new head on an old body just wouldn’t be the same person.
Of course, the first thing that came to my mind was The Head That Wouldn’t Die but it turned out I already had a blog entry for that masterpiece. Here it is with the links fixed:
But of course, that movie is only about an attempt at such a transplant so my piece, which I hoped would be a serious cautionary tale, needed to show the consequences of a successful transplant.
I was blessed with not one but two films. A real double-header.
Though those films are not about a full on head swap. They’re really about having to share a pair of shoulders with another head and the friction that may cause.
Now the first one is the straight-on exploitation B-flick The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant which sees a crazed murderer having his head grafted onto the body of a gigantic but powerful moron. What could possibly go wrong?
Frankly, there’s not much to recommend in this somewhat pedestrian film. It just barely lives up to the goofy promise of its premise. Even former Marilyn Munster Pat Priest can’t save it.
A year later, though, the ever prolific R Lee Frost would crank out this memorable Blaxploitation classic The Thing with Two Heads.
This movie is a vast improvement over AIP’s previous dual-noggin epic. For one thing, it has star power: not only does it feature Oscar winner Ray Milland (now working through the “anything for a cheque” phase of his post-Oscar career); it has Rosey Grier, the former NFL player who became a household name after wrestling Sirhan-Sirhan to the ground at the Robert Kennedy assassination (which, as a bodyguard, he failed to prevent) . For anyone who grew up in the 70s, Grier was as ubiquitous as Charo, clocking in more airtime than even Regis during that decade. There’s not a game show or prime time drama or variety show from that era that didn’t get a visit from the gentle Rosey. More recently, Grier’s claim to fame was to be spiritual counselor to O.J. Simpson.
A true renaissance man, Grier was also the bestselling author of this manly manual.
But despite all of Grier’s efforts to grab enduring fame over the decades, he will most likely be remembered for his role in The Thing with Two Heads as a convict who volunteers to be a human guinea pig which leaves him with a rich old-fart bigot’s head (Milland) grafted onto his neck and his girlfriend wondering “is there two of anything else?”.
They say pain makes memories stick. This could be a prime example of it.
So here we go with our double-header:
The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant
Pain Level: 7/10
Quality of Pain: Dull
Painjoyment Index: Mild
The Thing with Two-Heads
Pain Level: 6/10
Quality of Pain: Emancipated
Painjoyment™ Level: High