The Gruesome Twosome (1967)
By: Michael Helms on September 5, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 72 minutes
The Movie
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Starring: Elizabeth Davis, Chris Martel, Gretchen Welles, Rodney Bedell
Screenplay: Allison Louise Downe
Country: USA
Talking wig mannequins with paper cut-out facial features hype the activities of one Mrs. Pringle in a prologue that was only added on after producer/director Lewis returned from Florida to Chicago and realised he didn't have a feature length film (he also attached the drive-in sequence after the fact). This desperate piece of work actually and accurately sets the half-assed tone for what is to come as The Gruesome Twosome rolls out as a naff version of Sweeney Todd set in a wig shop that's been grafted onto an episode of Nancy Drew (with fleeting spy-movie rip-off soundtrack).

Unfortunately, it's not Something Weird (although it sounds like it and Blast-Off Girls at times too) but at least does deliver some vicarious thrills as the aforementioned Mrs. Pringle sets her retarded son Rodney onto any of the female college students who come knocking on her door seeking out the rooms she also rents. When not talking to a stuffed bobcat called Napoleon (that's him on the cover), Mrs.Pringle is complimenting anyone within earshot and attending to her wig 'business'. Meanwhile, when Cathy, the film's nominal heroine, isn't arguing with boyfriend Dave or having a KFC party in uni dorm with her roommates she's on the case of the missing students and chasing the college cleaner down the street.

Rodney's handiwork includes the use of an electric knife and the Lewis convention of lovingly fondling the innards of at least one victim before he gets stabbed in the eye with a hat pin.
A clean presentation that's easier on the eyes than the dull still reproductions on the slick.
At times the music overpowers the dialogue which isn't always a bad thing. The best example is when a beach party kicks off with plenty of twisting, coke (as in cola), and a jam session that includes an electric guitar without an amp or power supply within sight. At that point who really cares what the kids are saying. A radio broadcast credits some of the music it plays to a band called Renny and the Rascals.
Extra Features
Commentary with H.G.Lewis that begins with the filmmaker calling The Gruesome Twosome a monstrosity also carries the voices of Something Weird Video chief Mike Vraney and Jimmy Maslin. A super-scratched trailer with Thomas Wood for The Gruesome Twosome is also featured along with a collection of Lewis publicity art work, most of which is great, some of which is only readable with a zoom feature.
The Verdict
1967 was a bumper year for Herschell Gordon Lewis releases but The Gruesome Twosome is definitely not the pick of the crop. Jam packed with interminable takes of non-acting and filler and variations of both (including the art cinema piss-take set at a drive-in) The Gruesome Twosome can only be recommended for it's gore which is Lewis at his absolute best. Thespian Chris Martell who portays retardation better than any member of the cast of The Idiots, also deserves a mention for playing the electric knife wielding scalper. Supreme trash.
Movie Score
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