The Gruesome Twosome (1967)
Famously, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ The Gruesome Twosome begins with a time-padding conversation between two Styrofoam wig heads, and yet, it’s not the weirdest thing among a compact 72 minutes.
Run by Mrs. Pringle (Elizabeth Davis, How to Make a Doll), The Little Wig Shop does brisk business for a Florida college town — not so much in selling them as acquiring new stock. That comes from the lovely college co-eds who inquire about renting a room from the matronly Mrs. Pringle, only to find their scalps evicted by the blade — later upgraded to electric — of her mentally challenged son, Rodney (Chris Martell, The Wild Rebels). Also part of the Pringle family: a stuffed bobcat named Napoleon.
When she’s not hanging with her sorority sisters by dancing on the bed and eating buckets of KFC while dressed in nighties, curious Kathy (Gretchen Wells) tries to figure out what happened to the missing girls. Says one of her sisters, “Honestly, Kathy, don’t you ever concentrate on anything but mysteries?” That’s a kinder way of putting it than the phrasing of her blue-balled boyfriend (Rodney Bedell, She-Devils on Wheels): “That’s all I need: Kathy Baker, girl detective. How’d I ever get mixed up with a female James Bond?”
Scenes of Kathy’s sleuthing play out in Lewis’ no-detail-spared style, so feel free to use the restroom or file your taxes while she observes an old man digging a hole in real time. If you choose to sit through it, however, you’ll be rewarded with Wells’ hilarious attempt at feigning a scream; no wonder Gruesome was her one and only screen credit. While the film is funnier than most of Lewis’ gore shows, it still is inferior to his Blood trilogy — inferior in a good way, mind you. —Rod Lott