Previously available as part of a box set, Arrow Video has released the 1967 horror film The Gruesome Twosome on Blu-ray in a stand-alone edition. Should you get it for your collection or will it make you flip your wig? Read on to find out!
Director Herschell Gordon Lewis (not to be confused with Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is rightly considered the “godfather of gore”. For awhile most of his films were available in very poor condition with only a select few being available on Blu-ray. Of course, these were low budget films and typically not made with high-quality materials but fans still hoped to get the best format available. In October 2016 Arrow Video released The Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast, a massive 14 film box set with tons of special features. Lately, there have been a few titles released as individual cases for those who might not want (or can afford) the whole shebang.
I’d imagine hardcore fans of HGL would have probably already bought the comprehensive box set. So you might be reading this to see if The Gruesome Twosome is worth a blind buy. Much like Ed Wood or Neil Breen, it’s rather difficult to suggest this to everyone just because not all will find merit or entertainment in these types of films. I do quite enjoy a few HGL films but I’ve only seen about 6 or so of them. For me, this one is my least favorite so far.
The premise itself is pretty bonkers on paper. The Gruesome Twosome is about an old woman, Mrs. Pringle, who has demented urges and uses her mentally challenged son who does scalping and killing for her. They use the hair from his young victims for wigs at Mrs. Pringle’s hair salon. Meanwhile, Kathy Baker, a local college coed tries to find clues to the killings and eventually links them to the gruesome twosome. Of course, it all takes place in Florida.
The film is a mix of gore and dark humor. It starts off wacky from the very beginning, with two Styrofoam heads talking. They have wigs and makeup on and one gets scalped and murdered. The problem after that lies with the pacing. It’s a fairly brief movie at just 72 minutes but quite a bit of it feels like filler to make up that run time. The same scene/murder set up is repeated pretty often; a young girl looks to rent a room, finds the wig shop and is murdered for her hair. After a couple times it just gets kind of boring, although the gore parts are still fun and it’s neat to think about how people reacted back in the 60’s to it.
As far as I can tell this seems to be the same disc as what was on the Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast box set. No booklet comes with this release but in looking up information about the transfer Arrow Video has this to say:
The Gruesome Twosome has been exclusively restored for this release by Arrow Films. The film was restored in 2K resolution from a combination of 35mm prints, as the original negative has been lost. Due to the extremely poor condition of the film elements available, this presentation exhibits extreme color fading that could only be corrected to a minimal degree through digital grading. This presentation also includes occasional instances of damaged and missing frames that were impossible to restore digitally. There is occasional loose audio sync but this is as per the original source materials.
Their description, unfortunately, is quite accurate as all of the issues readily appear in the film and are distracting (especially if you were not prepared for it). The back cover of the Blu-ray case has no pictures or descriptions about the picture quality so it may be surprising for blind buyers used to the typical quality produced by Arrow. Of course, it’s not to be blamed on the company as there were apparently no better copies available for scanning.
- A Taste of Blood – The 1967 film from HGL about a businessman turned vampire who decides to go out and kill the descendants of Dracula’s executioners. At 117 minutes long it is pretty slow paced and more straightforward from his other works, but a double feature typically adds to the value of a Blu-ray purchase.
- The Gruesome Twosome and A Taste of Blood Audio Commentary with Herschell Gordon Lewis.
- Peaches Christ Flips Her Wig! – A 10-minute interview with San Francisco performer Peaches Christ discussing The Gruesome Twosome.
- It Came From Florida – A 10-minute interview with Director Fred Olen Ray (Scalps, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers) discussing filmmaking in Florida.
- H.G. Lewis vs. the Censors – 7 minutes with HGL discussing his experience with censorship and angry moviegoers.
- Trailers and Radio Spot
The Gruesome Twosome Final Thoughts:
The Gruesome Twosome is not the movie I would start with if I was discovering Herschell Gordon Lewis for the first time. The picture and sound quality are pretty poor but apparently, that is all that is available at this time. The film is made for a niche audience already and this release is probably not going to be picked up by those who own the Feast box set released months ago as it offers nothing new from that set. If you like HGL, and this film, but not enough to pick up the box set then this release could tide you over. I think a rental is the most I could recommend for the average viewer. If the screenshots and descriptions seem like your type of film you can pick up a copy from Amazon or other fine retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.