The Man with Two Heads (1972)

The Man with Two Heads (1972) movie poster

director Andy Milligan
viewed: 10/15/2017

I always think of Mario Bava as the director/cinematographer/set designer who seems to do the most with the least. In that vein, Andy Milligan is perhaps the director who manages to do the least with the least.

That said, The Man with Two Heads is possibly the most competent of his films I’ve seen. The title is a marketing deke, disguising the fact that this is actually a pretty straight-up Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde movie made on the cheap.

It seems that Milligan aspires to Hammer-style horror in some of his period horror films. Made with fuck-all care at having no budget and using whatever locations he can to portray Victorian wherever.

Many have noted that the opening part of the film is fairly dull, if by the numbers, and not outrageously bad. Part of Milligan’s coup is having Denis DeMarne star as Jekyll/Hyde(Blood). Under camp make-up and pasted-on eyebrows, he gives a lurid portrayal of the venal villain, whose ruthless hatred unleashes radiant sadism. DeMarne may be no Fredric March, but he’s very good, very much in the vein of Rouben Mamoulian’s 1931 classic.

And Milligan may be no Mamoulian, but as the film veers into the madness of Mr. Blood, his swirly camera swoops into an S&M phantasmagoria twisty and bizarre and for my money actually very effective.

Milligan continues to fascinate me. While many voice disappointment in The Man with Two Heads, in part because of its dull competence, it’s interestingly also a much less ironically enjoyable feat of cinema from one of the form’s most strange outsider artists.

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