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.
A TV talk-show hostess and her boyfriend investigate a shady magician whom has the ability to hypnotize and control the thoughts of people in order to stage gory on-stage illusions using his powers of mind bending.
A naive and innocent teenage girl is blackmailed into modeling in the nude for a photographer who is in league with a teenage gang whose boss illegally sells photos of teenage girls being abused and degraded.
Herschell Gordon Lewis
Allison Louise Downe,
Lawrence J. Aberwood
A young teenage boy is blamed for a Florida neighborhood being terrorized. But the real culprits are a gang of four punks leading a group of local delinquents on a nihilistic lifestyle of destruction and mayhem.
Mrs. Pringle and her son Rodney run a wig store which they stock by scalping young coeds who show up to look at the "room for rent." Meanwhile at the local college, Kathy is determined to figure out who is killing her classmates, much to boyfriend Dave's irritation. When her friend Dawn disappears, Kathy gets closer to the truth as she begins investigating the Pringle's lair.Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
"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'un), mixed in with the trademarked ultraviolence of his earlier splatterfests. Hilariously, as revealed in the commentary on the recent DVD release of this, much of the humour was derived unintentionally from the fact that they shot far too little footage on the set and were forced to pad out the 75 minute running time with lingering scenes of very bizarre activity that was never in the original script. For example, the film opens with a camp 7 minute conversation between two wig blocks painted to look like garish pink Mr Potato Heads. We also have an outlandish, almost dadaist "film within a film" sequence at the Drive-In in which a young female tries to seduce a gluttonous Ray Sagar ("The Wizard Of Gore") who is more concerned with squashing peaches and stuffing his face with potato chips than he is with her wily charms. However, even discounting the unintentional comedy resulting from the timing mix-ups, 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 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!). To cap it all off, we're even treated to a bikini beach party scene *AND* a stock car demolition derby! Anyone seeking prime 60's trash will be in Heaven here!
But it's not all fruitcake comedy. Gorefiends will delight in the extended sequences of scalpings, decapitations, disembowellings and eyeball gougings, shot in squishy, sickening close-up and rich with Lewis' beloved "red glop". It's strange that even over 30 years on from the Godfather Of Gore's heyday, no one has, in my mind, been able to out-gross him on the slippery viscera scale. The violence in "The Gruesome Twosome" is as stomach-wrenching today as it was in 1967.
Whilst not as seminal as "Blood Feast", as shocking as "2000 Maniacs" nor as trashy as "She Devils On Wheels", "The Gruesome Twosome" is nonetheless probably Lewis' weirdest finished product and, as a result, an essential part of his oeuvre. It's obvious from the DVD commentary that he still views the film with great affection and you should too. It's a gem.
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