cast: Elizabeth Davis, Gretchen Wells, Chris Martell, Rodney Bedell, and Ronnie Cass
director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
81 minutes (18) 1967
Something Weird DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Andrew Hook
Let’s make no mistake about it, as a piece of filmmaking this movie is absolutely dreadful. Never mind that it was made in the 1960s on a low budget, or that Herschell Gordon Lewis was one of the pioneers of gore, this film contains no artistry whatsoever.
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The acting is embarrassing, the script puts ‘dire’ into dialogue, and the whole ensemble is so appallingly put together that I’d challenge anyone to watch it all the way through without being drunk, drugged, or paralysed without the ability to switch it off. Or if they were a hapless reviewer, of course…
Such as it is; the plot involves mad Mrs Pringle (Elizabeth Davis) who runs ‘The Little Wig Shoppe’ and who sells wigs made of 100 percent human hair whilst constantly talking to a stuffed bobcat by the name of Napoleon. Her mentally unbalanced son, Rodney (Chris Martell), has the job of obtaining the hair by scalping co-ed girls who answer advertisements for a room to rent. When her friend goes missing, Kathy Baker (Gretchen Wells) turns detective against the better wishes of her boyfriend, Dave (Rodney Bedell), and ultimately discovers the truth.
For a cult B-movie to be given the status of a classic I think that however bad certain elements might be there has to be some kind of cohesive factor that binds them together. This factor can be quite intangible, appealing to our sense of ‘cool’, or ‘kitsch’. Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat Kill Kill! is a prime example of good cult filmmaking. Here, however, everything is just crap.
The gore isn’t particularly prevalent or well executed (excuse the pun). The sound quality is abysmal, with background traffic noise making some of the dialogue inaudible. The pacing is terrible. And the movie is padded with many unnecessary scenes: college girls dancing to music on the radio, a shower scene which has no relevance to the plot, and about three minutes of car racing where one shot would set the scene. Perhaps the ultimate filler is the ten-minute opening sequence of two Styrofoam wig heads chatting about the forthcoming plot – a section that was added when Lewis realised the movie turned out too short for a feature. This might sound funny, interesting, and slightly kooky perhaps, but it’s none of these things. It’s just inexcusably bad.
Ironically, I imagine the main audience for this movie will be university students on film studies courses, therefore attributing the film with some kind of dignity that it doesn’t deserve. Made for the movie drive-in audience who presumably could get up to something more interesting in the back of a car during the boring bits, The Gruesome Twosome no doubt led to a lot of pregnancies.
Disc extras include the original trailers for some other movies, and a short, inexplicable film, titled Miss Weird.