Schlockmania’s Severin Films-assisted journey into the Andy Milligan oeuvre comes to a close with this installment. After three entries offering a trio of themed triple features, the final one is designed to play more like the kind of randomly arranged bill you might have seen at a grindhouse or drive-in back in the day. It consists of two gems from two different phases of his career – a bile-spewing classic from his sexploitation days and a satirical monster mash shot on his old stomping grounds – plus an interesting footnote to his career, a movie that he only directed wraparound scenes for but shapes up as a fascinating artifact of ’70s exploitation film history.
Also, you can find a round-up of the Milligan films from The Dungeon Of Andy Milligan that were not included in Schlockmania’s triple bill programming at the bottom of this entry – the links there will take you to Letterboxd writeups for each of those films.
BLOOD: shot in 1972 and released in 1974, this was the last of Milligan’s Staten Island Gothics – and it’s the most fun of the bunch, showing just how much he’d learned about making this kind of film. The fanciful plot feels like a horror kid’s daydream, presenting a scenario where the descendent of a werewolf (Allan Berendt) moves into a house with his vampire bride (Hope Stansbury) and beleaguered servants who assist him in his mad scientist-type experiments. There’s even a set of blood-drinking plants in the basement. Milligan’s script and direction deliver all the florid dialogue and melodrama you’d expect but the film moves quickly and economically, benefitting from the knowingly big performances of a cast with theatrical training (Stansbury is the big scene stealer as a vampiress with a neurotic bent). Milligan’s handmade costumes and production design are really on point here, too, and add to the retro fun of it all. The end result is Milligan’s version of a Universal Pictures monster rally of the ’40s but to his credit it stay true to his dark take on the concepts of family and romance.
SEEDS: The uncut version of this one was unearthed by the Vinegar Syndrome crew and it’s a revelation. It comes from the end of Milligan’s era as a purveyor of kinky 42nd Street sexploitation and the director-approved cut shows just how much of his vicious off-Broadway aesthetic he was able to sneak into the grindhouse. The plot gathers the members of an estranged family at the house of their mother (Maggie Rogers) for a birthday dinner dreamt up by her caretaker daughter Carol (Candy Hammond). Acidic dialogue, gratuitous nudity/sex and an array of murders ensue. This one rivals The Ghastly Ones as Milligan’s ultimate statement of “home is where the hatred is,” going further over the top with each reel as the auteur piles on vitriolic dialogue, creative deaths and roughie-style amorous clinches, all in gritty black and white. It has been compared to a vintage John Waters film minus the humor and that description is dead-on: like a lot of the best Milligan films, it’s fueled by a rage that will leave you slackjawed. Look out for Rogers, who plays the ultimate evil mom here, and Hammond, an unlikely but thoroughly confident sexbomb whose spider baby-ish nature gets more frenzied as the film moves along.
TOGA PARTY: many consider this film to be the runt of the litter in The Dungeon Of Andy Milligan: the majority of the film is a curious hybrid of rock business satire and sexploitation directed by Robert T. Megginson and Milligan’s work on is merely a new wraparound and a few interstitial bits set at the titular bacchanal, utilizing porn actor Bobby Astyr to link the two different sets of footage. However, it’s also a one-of-a-kind time capsule. The story is about a country boy named Pelvis (Luther “Bud” Whaney) who comes to NYC to become a rock star and experiences ripoffs, groupies and a loss of self as he chases success. It’s got a really weird sense of humor (the hero writes songs about bestiality and Nazi fetishes) but if you’re in the right mood, you’ll find charms in its anything goes mixture of borscht belt schtick, gratuitous nudity, ’70s NYC location footage and a sleazy rock atmosphere. The toga wraparound scenes are senseless but add extra cheesecake to the mix and have an amiable party vibe you’ll see nowhere else in the Milligan oeuvre. It’s worth noting that Astyr is quite funny here as a club owner who is effortlessly predatory towards everyone he meets.
Bonus: Capsule Reviews For Other Titles from The Dungeon Of Andy Milligan:
The Man With Two Heads: https://letterboxd.com/schlockmania/film/the-man-with-two-heads/
Legacy Of Blood: https://letterboxd.com/schlockmania/film/legacy-of-blood/