Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nous allons au cinema

posted Fri, 24 Dec 2004

Run, do not walk, to your video store to rent “The Thing with Two Heads.” It will only take an hour to watch, because you can skip the chase scene, which is just the same ten minutes looped over and over from different camera angles.

Here is the plot: Dr Kirshner has pioneered a transplant technique by which he can transplant a head. He has tried this only on a gorilla, but is forced to use it on himself when his chest cancer spreads from his lungs to his rib cage. “Genius,” he roars to his staff, “must be preserved.”

The problem, of course, is finding a donor body. Fortunately, one of his docs has connections with the governor and gets him to ask death row inmates if they will donate their body to science. One inmate, who is in the chair at the moment that he makes the decision, says he will do so. This will give him more time to prove his innocence, he claims. The operation will not result in his death until a month after it takes place.

Right before the inmate makes this decision, one of the guards, in one of the best lines in the movie (not that there is a lot of competition), murmurs, “Power to you, brother.”

Now to one of the key plot elements: the inmate, Jackie, is black. Earlier in the movie, it was established that Dr K, who is white, is a bigot. Now his head is about to be grafted onto the body of a black man. Hilarity ensues when Dr K awakes from the operation and discovers what has happened and he and Jackie start to bicker. (Both heads need to be on the body for a month while the operation takes, then Jackie’s head will be removed.)

The part of Jackie is played by Rosie Grier, who Harpo tells me used to be a pro football player (he’s a BIG guy) who went on to have a successful career in – Harpo says he is not making this up – needlepoint.

This is one of those movies to watch with friends and mock aloud. The hairstyles are really awful, the music is dark and foreboding even though nothing bad is happening, and the dialogue is plain pitiful. Truly a party film.

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