'The Gruesome Twosome: Special Edition'
(Chris Martell, Elizabeth Davis, Rodney Bedell, Gretchen Wells, Karl Stoeber, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1967) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: A demented, elderly woman has her mentally retarded son kill and scalp various young women to use their hair for her wig shop while a persistent coed tries to link various killings on a local Florida college campus to them.
Blu ray Verdict: After dabbling in the unlikely world of children s entertainment with the likes of Jimmy, the Boy Wonder and The Magic Land of Mother Goose, in 1967 ''Godfather of Gore'' Herschell Gordon Lewis returned to genre he helped create with the delightfully depraved 'The Gruesome Twosome'!
The young women of a small-town American college have more than just split-ends to worry about! Down at the Little Wig Shop, the batty Mrs. Pringle and her socially-inept son Rodney are procuring only the finest heads of hair by scalping the local co-eds! Can they be stopped before they clear the entire campus of luxuriant-haired ladies?
Also including HG Lewis' Dracula-inspired vampire epic A Taste of Blood as a bonus feature, this one, 'The Gruesome Twosome', is well worth flipping your wig over, trust me!
In truth, 'The Gruesome Twosome' has a simple plot. Old Mrs Pringle (Elizabeth Davies) lives in a lovely little house just outside a Miami University Campus and runs a high quality wig shop from within it. Her son, Rodney (Chris Martell), who's a little simple in the head, helps her out. His speciality is procuring the real human hair that goes into making these wonderful wigs.
Unfortunately for the local students, this involves the brutal killing and scalping of every beautiful young girl who is lured into the house under the pretense of finding a room to rent. But hey, don't blame Rodney, it's not his fault - he's a child trapped in a man's body and his domineering Mother dearest (accompanied at all times by her stuffed bobcat, Napoleon) continually threatens him with the prospect of being sent to "the place where bad boys go" if he doesn't carry out her murderous desires.
Sounds from that like it could be one of a million naff exploitation movies churned out by the late 60's but this one has the distinction of being directed by the undisputed king of the genre, Herschell Gordon Lewis. As a result the film is loaded with the same kind of screwball, absurdist humour as found in his 'She Devils On Wheels' opus (shot virtually back to back with this one), mixed in with the trademarked ultraviolence of his earlier splatterfests.
Hilarious throughout, to my mind, the film opens with a camp seven minute conversation between two wig blocks painted to look like garish pink Mr Potato Heads! But the unintentional comedy resulting from the timing mix-ups is as good as the scripted stuff too, believe me!
Indeed, Lewis still manages to cram in plenty of deliberate gags from his cast of kooky, colourful characters. We have a quirky heroine, Cathy Baker (played by the delicious model/actress Gretchen Welles), who is an overzealous and fairly inept Nancy Drew type attending the local university, and who is forever trying and failing to solve mini-mysteries; such as the whereabouts of her friend's pet parrot (she believes they ate it the previous day in a pot pie!)
We have a creepy caretaker on campus who happens to be a bone smuggler (!) when he leaves work. We have extended scenes of pseudo-go-go dancing from the female students (including one where they all bop around waving legs of Kentucky Fried Chicken; as part of a product placement agreement Lewis scored with the fast food chain who, in turn, fed the entire cast and crew!)
Oh yeah, and to cap it all off, we're even treated to a bikini beach party scene and a stock car demolition derby! It should also be noted that gore fiends will delight in the extended sequences of scalpings, decapitations, disembowellings and eyeball gouging! All shot in squishy, sickening close-up and rich with Lewis' beloved "red glop", 'The Gruesome Twosome' is as stomach-wrenching today as it was in 1967. This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Bonus Feature! 1967's A Taste of Blood
Introductions to the films by HG Lewis
Archive audio commentaries for both films by HG Lewis
Peaches Christ Flips Her Wig! San Francisco performer Peaches Christ on The Gruesome Twosome
It Came from Florida filmmaker Fred Olen Ray (Scalps, The Alien Dead) on Florida Filmmaking
HG Lewis vs. the Censors HG Lewis discusses some of the pitfalls of the blood-and-guts business including local censorship and angry moviegoers
Trailers and radio spot
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil