Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis [Other horror films: Blood Feast (1963), Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), Monster a-Go Go (1965), Color Me Blood Red (1965), A Taste of Blood (1967), Something Weird (1967), The Wizard of Gore (1970), The Gore Gore Girls (1972), Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (2002), The Uh-Oh Show (2009), Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania (2017, segments ‘Gory Story’ and ‘The Night Hag’)]
H.G. Lewis is a personal favorite director of mine, despite not having seen all of his horror output as of yet. Both Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs!, despite their flaws, are rather enjoyable. The Wizard of Gore is somewhat nonsensical, but still fun. I never cared much for Color Me Blood Red, and generally consider that my least-favorite of his.
Luckily, The Gruesome Twosome is a bit more enjoyable than the disappointing Color Me Blood Red, but it’s still quite a rocky film for only being an hour and ten minutes, isn’t that right, Napoleon?
The biggest issue here, by far, is the padding throughout the film. I’d say that 18 minutes easily could have been cut out without much issue (including that atrociously amusing opening, a ten-minute sequence of a character following someone they suspect is a killer, and a couple of beach party and slumber party scenes), but no, you have to suffer through those scenes honestly to get to the good stuff.
And the gore itself is pretty solid – I mean, c’mon, we’re talking about H.G. Lewis, aren’t we, Napoleon? There’s a solid throat-slitting with an electric knife, an enjoyably messy scalping, and while possibly gratuitous, a scene in which the killer’s digging through a woman’s entrails (for some reason). I mean, sure, it more often than not looks fake, but we’re talking about 60’s horror, so I applaud Lewis for his heavy use of gore.
Being a film from the Godfather of Gore, much of the acting is either subpar or wildly ridiculous. Gretchen Wells, as the main character, didn’t really make much an impression on me, nor did co-star Rodney Bedell. In his limited screen-time, Chris Martell did well as the mentally-subnormal killer, but it’s really Elizabeth Davis’ performance that’d leave a mark on you. As a kindly old woman who often talks to her stuffed wildcat Napoleon, and makes flighty, poetic comments from time-to-time, a lot of screen-time is spent on Davis, which I was cool with, as her character was so fun. It’s a shame no one else came close to her, isn’t that right, Napoleon?
I don’t think that many people, even horror fans, would go out of their way to see this one unless they were already fans of H.G. Lewis, which is probably a good thing, as it’s not his best release. Certainly a gory proto-slasher that’s better than Color Me Blood Red, The Gruesome Twosome isn’t really anywhere near as enjoyable as Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs!, or The Wizard of Gore, especially due to the unnecessary padding throughout the film. If you’re an H.G. Lewis aficionado, though, and you’ve not yet seen this, give it a shot. It could certainly be worse, isn’t that right, Napoleon?