Creature Feature: Gruesome Twosome (1967)


“…Gruesome Twosome is a joyously campy diversion only slightly above a home movie that manages to achieve some remarkable moments, absolutely NONE of which are the least bit “scary” in the traditional sense…”

After my post the other day about Wigs Made of 100% Human Hair, a reader tipped me off about Gruesome Twosome (1967) by that impresario of weird-cinema, Herschel Gordon Lewis. I popped it to the top of my Netflix list and devoured it the moment it arrived.

The movie’s charm is its situation: a mother and her deranged son harvest the scalps off coeds to sell as wigs to other coeds. Y’know, the great circle of life. A stickler might note the film doesn’t really develop much beyond establishing that delicious set-up, but I say phooey to such dramaturgical pedantry. Gruesome Twosome is a joyously campy diversion only slightly above a home movie that manages to achieve some remarkable moments, absolutely NONE of which are the least bit “scary” in the traditional sense. Which is not to say the movie isn’t disturbing. Etched forever on my brain is the slumber party where college coeds go-go dance on the beds of a dorm room… while eating fried chicken!

I can’t believe that I’m saying this but I think it might have benefited from a bit more gore. Gruesome Twosome isn’t very gruesome and the scenes that are intended to be revolting – all of which are shown in the trailer – are rather ludicrous. They aren’t casualties of the arms-race of special effects; I don’t imagine they were ever very effective.

Like much 60’s era camp, Gruesome Twosome “fails” so resoundingly when counted against traditional standards that nearly every scene inspired me to imagine far better replacements, a “Fantasia on Themes from Herschel Gordon Lewis” if you will. What would Michael Moore do with this tale of perverse predatory economics where townies prey upon the college students both as customers and as raw materials? (Insert witty and biting comment about tedious propaganda versus joyous diversions…)

Gruesome Twosome was exactly the movie I wanted to watch on a Saturday afternoon with a beer in my hand. Several times, I actually shouted from the couch “This is the greatest film ever made” though it would be criminally misleading to assert that in print. More accurately, it was fun. Not exactly “horror,” but fun. Pure fun. What’s wrong with that?

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