If his bargain bin Sweeney Todd adaptation Bloodthirsty Butchers is his most overtly hateful and misanthropic film, The Man with Two Heads (1972) aka The Man with Two Faces aka Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Blood—an aberrant adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Victorian era Gothic novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) that begins with a dapperly dressed British gent brutally mutilating and murdering a blonde prostitute in a somewhat Jack the Ripper-esque fashion—is gay American gutter auteur Andy Milligan’s most violently misogynistic, perversely personal, and sexually incriminating work. Slightly butchered in post-production to receive a PG-rating and titled The Man with Two Heads by Hebraic producer/distributor William Mishkin to cash in on the popularity of Lee Frost’s race-baiting blaxploitation-horror-sci-fi-comedy hybrid celluloid turd The Thing with Two Heads (1972) even though the work does not feature a dude with two noggins, the film may have been defiled for monetary reasons yet it is still pure and unadulterated Milligan and certainly one of the filmmaker’s ‘classics.’ One of the director’s five films, which also include Nightbirds (1969), The Body Beneath (1970), Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970), and The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! (1972), that he created when he relocated to London, England to get away from his regular producer Mishkin to work with Anglo-Semite Leslie Elliot at Cinemedia, only to have the relationship fall apart in the middle of the second film (apparently, Elliot’s father accused Milligan of making an “anti-Semitic attack” after the auteur remarked, “I know your type from New York City and I’ve never been fazed by your type”) and forcing the filmmaker to rekindle his Faustian pact with the NYC smut-peddler, The Man with Two Heads is certainly a classic among the auteur’s oeuvre, as well as one of the sadomasochistic creator’s own personal favorites among his own work. In his excellent biography The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Milligan (2001), Jimmy McDonough probably paid the film its best compliment when he wrote about it and the influence of its director, ““Insanity represents a form of hope in Douglas Sirk’s works,” wrote Fassbinder. The same seems true for Milligan. “Andy had a thing about the mentally insane,” said SEEDS producer Allen Bazzini. “He used to frighten me with that. When he'd talk about it, his eyes lit up”.” After watching a print of the film that looks like it stewed in a concentration camp porta-potty for a couple decades before being violently defecated onto the world, I can happily report that The Man with Two Heads is a gritty and visceral piece of venomous celluloid hate in an ostensibly elegant pseudo-Victorian package that completely lacks the camp and goofy queer elements that are typical of Milligan's other films. The sordid story of an atheistic egomaniac who attempts to play god and sires a murderously sadistic misogynistic monster in his own body that takes over without warning and forces the antihero to malevolently torture and kill unsuspecting streetwalkers and winos, the work ultimately reflects Milligan’s own very personal war against god, society, and conventional sexuality.
Opening with a dapper yet deranged and deadly dandy-like gentleman (Jim Wilson of 1977 family-horror turd Return to Boggy Creek and Jaws 2 (1978)) being asked by a blonde hooker, “do you happen to know what time it is?” and then proceeding to take a walk with her back to her apartment where he begins violently manhandling her on the way and then sadistically slaughters her after she complains, “Hold on, I don't go in for this rough stuff,” The Man with Two Heads immediately establishes a tone of unnervingly brutal, if not innately ineptly directed, contempt for the more monetary motivated-members of the fairer sex, who Mr. Milligan seems to have nil sympathy for. The elegantly dressed whore-killer is soon caught and decides to hang himself in his jail cell, but his woman-hating homicidal spirit is resurrected in another person's body after an enterprising young scientist named Dr. William Jekyll (Denis DeMarne) decides out of desperation to inject the evil part of the man’s brain into his own body so that he can test his revolutionary evil-eradicating serum, thus ultimately having terrible consequences for the already debased and downtrodden streetwalkers of 1835 London. After he reveals in a pompous rant he makes while talking with a certain Inspector Wolfe (Laurence Davies) while procuring the corpse of the whore-killer for his experiments, Dr. Jekyll is a sort of nihilist who hates spirituality, or as he himself states, “I do not believe in a soul. I believe in facts, I believe what I can see and touch, what is real. This thing ‘soul’ as you call it, is a figment of man’s imagination. Something brought on by himself to help his everyday existence. Man has invented this soul to help him get out of today’s difficulties…to transport him to a hereafter…a hereafter that doesn’t exist […] I’m a man of medicine. I have no time for such things as souls and religions. I believe in science and medicine and only in that.” In fact, Jekyll is so tirelessly dedicated to sterile science that he incessantly misses meetings with his beautiful and rather dainty (especially for a Milligan film!) fiancée Mary Ann Marsden (Gay Feld) and her family. Judging by his glacial manner of speaking with his beloved, one might suspect that Dr. Jekyll is borderline impotent or, at the very least, has very little, if any, sex drive. Indeed, Dr. Jekyll has made an unofficial Faustian pact with science and he will ultimately pay for it with his life, but not before he has a bit of good clean sadomasochistic libertine fun of the de Sadean sort after developing a second, more sinister personality after he becomes a victim of his own dubious scientific research.
Dr. Jekyll hates his beloved Mary Ann’s scientist father and men like him, or as he states to his fiancée, “It’s men like your father in our profession that hold back men like your brother and me. Every time we come up with something new, your father and some of his old cronies down at the medical league refuse to even listen to us […] Therefore, we have to seek financing by becoming either second rate doctors to anyone at any price—giving up our experiments—or taking on private students as I’ve been forced to do.” Indeed, Dr. Jekyll is a professor with six students, though one of them, a prissy queen named John Murphy (Milligan superstar Gerald Jacuzzo), decides to quit when his professor’s experiments regarding eradicating evil become more dubious, warning his pedantic teacher, “I think it's my duty to warn you…you’re playing with things that are no concern of yours. They belong to one Supreme Being, God, and you have no right to tamper with nature as he gave it. God will punish you, you’ll see. I’m warning you.” Of course, god (or tragic happenstance) does punish the good doctor. Indeed, when Dr. Jekyll believes he has perfected a serum that can isolate good and evil in man’s brain, he becomes so eager to test it that he cannot wait for the latest shipment of lab rats and other animals, which are on backorder, so he absurdly opts to try it on himself, but trouble arises when his dimwitted assistant Jack Smithers (genuinely talented Nightbirds star Berwick Kaler, who is probably the only Milligan star to go on to real mainstream success) absent-mindedly drops the formula and then subsequently ruins the data for it after spilling chemicals on it, thus forcing the scientist to develop the evil alter-ego Mr. Danny Blood, who is a born master of a macabre form of misogyny that he credits as being heavily influenced by the Marquis de Sade.
After transforming into his evil alter-ego, Dr. Jekyll-as-Mr. Blood strolls down to a bawdy bordello and immediately begins suavely hitting on the lead performer, April Connors (Julia Stratton), who he tells that he will “teach” some of the things he learned from his spiritual mentor de Sade. When April’s boorish drunken boyfriend shows up at the bordello and causes trouble with the demented doc, Blood brutally beats the man to death with his cane and then sarcastically states in a sinisterly sardonic fashion, “I knew you’d see it my way, old man.” From there, Blood takes April back to a dilapidated apartment and tells her to wash off her makeup because he thinks she looks like a “cheap little tramp.” Of course, Blood does not stop his verbal venom there, as he tells April she is not only “scum” but also “the defecation of the slums of London.” Blood also makes April his own personal “dog” and forces her sit at his feet and bark. When Dr. Jekyll unexpectedly transforms into Blood during one of his lectures, he also unleashes his rabid misogyny on his sole female student, Victoria Crenshaw (Jennifer Summerfield), declaring to her in front of the entire class, “You’re privileged…to be a female medical student in this day and age. After all, we all know you should be at home looking after snot-nosed little brats […] What makes you think you should be a doctor…standing up there as if you knew what you were talking about?! All women should be in bed…to be used.” Meanwhile, assistant Smithers reveals to the brain-damaged doc’s fiancée Mary Ann about Dr. Jekyll’s new sinisterly schizophrenic mentality. When Mary Ann confronts Dr. Jekyll about this, the doctor becomes enraged and inevitably transforms into Mr. Blood and pays Smithers a visit that results in the absent-minded assistant being burned and butchered to death. Dr. Jekyll also begins frequenting a curiously quaint S&M pleasuredome, the ‘House of Degradation’ (as it was advertised on the poster released for the film), where he engages in smoke-fueled sadomasochistic orgies in a semi-psychedelic scene that certainly seems to reflect Milligan’s ‘unconventional’ sexual proclivities as is especially demonstrated by the fact that virtually all of the torture victims are men. Of course, after hacking off his whore April’s head with a butcher knife and sexually assaulting his medical student Victoria, Jekyll finds himself a marked man. When Dr. Jekyll turns into Blood and attempts to ravage his fiancée Mary Ann, a lynch mob shoots him dead.
As biographer Jimmy McDonough wrote regarding the significance of the scene in The Man with Two Heads where Mr. Blood first goes out for a night on the town and meets his future slave April: “On first kissing her at the club, he bites her lip. “Call me Daddy,” he then tells her (which, as Joe davis reported, was the nickname Andy demanded from his own street conquests.” Apparently, when McDonough confronted Milligan about the “Call me Daddy” scene, the auteur “got all worked up” and stated, “Stop it, babe, you’re givin’ me a hard-on,” thus signifying the unsavorily ‘subtextual’ nature of the film. Indeed, there is no question that Mr. Milligan was a sort of Mr. Blood in the bedroom (or alley or tearoom) and as a man that apparently could be quite sweet and kind who suffered heavy physical and emotional abuse virtually since birth from his half-crazed and morbidly obese odious ogre of a mother, it seems that the auteur also had developed a second personality as a result of his youthful struggles, hence why The Man with Two Heads is arguably the filmmaker's most personal work. Apparently, the film used to baffle audience members when it was screened at the Lyric Theatre on 42 Street in NYC, or as Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford wrote in their book Sleazoid Express: A Mind-Twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square (2002) regarding what they witnessed firsthand: “Dr. Jekyll is a bushy-haired misogynist who constantly yells at this female students. One Lyric audience member yelled back, “Go fuck yourself!” […] Though the film is mostly asleep, Andy tosses in a psychedelic S&M orgy scene out of nowhere, which elicited cries of “What the hell?!” and gales of laughter from the audience.” Indeed, if there is any filmmaker and film that would have made for a great case study for Austro-Teutonic psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s classic forensic reference book Psychopathia Sexualis: Sexual Psychopathy: A Clinical-Forensic Study (1886), it is most certainly Milligan and The Man with Two Heads, with the exquisitely eccentric, if not oftentimes equally banal, misbegotten movie being a virtual celluloid pathology as dreamed up from the deepest and darkest desires of the debauched director. Like all of Milligan's greatest works, his merrily misanthropic Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde mutation is a perversely potent celluloid punch of culturally pessimistic perniciousness and savage playfulness that reminds one why psychopaths, debauchees, retards, whores, and intemperate megalomaniacs make for more interesting characters than normal folk. After all, a patent piece of cinematic shit like The Man with Two Heads would not be so crudely enthralling were it not directed by a vicious sadomasochistic sodomite who derived pleasure from beating underage boys and was a bigger bitch than an overweight chain-smoking negro wench with borderline personality disorder and a nasty crack addiction.