For many a genre film fan, the name Andy Milligan raises fear and trepidation amongst the most brave and fool hearted. The main reason for the fear is the assertion that Milligan was an atrocious filmmaker whose films are unbearable to watch. This is actually quite untrue. In the true world of underground film making, Andy was an inimitable stylist, a genuine one man act in every capacity of motion picture production. He wrote, directed, photographed, edited and did all the special effects in his films, not so much because he wanted to but necessity dictated, and Milligan delivered. This was the way it was, if you wanted backing from the cheap, miserable tight wad garment district ass wipes like William Mishkin or Jerry Balsam, who fancied themselves as producers, you did all you could to keep costs down and keep yourself working. The Findleys, the Ameros, they all operated this way. The only asshole I knew who fought this abuse and ended up unemployed was Joe Marzano, but you can read this story in the Marzano obituary of vol.3 issue #2 of the Exploitation Journal . Milligan was a true survivor, he used Mishkin just as Mishkin used him. Although the records indicate Mishkin profited while keeping Andy in the dark, it's Milligan who is remembered for his outrageous contributions to the horror and sex film trade, not Mishkin, who has earned the name thief from just about everyone familiar with the industry!
My being able to relate to Milligan, his films and his predicament comes mostly from the fact that I myself am a struggling filmmaker with just as many disadvantages. In fact, I'm worse off in that there are no longer any Mishkin types around to front the money to get a film made, let alone handle the distribution. The power structure now works like this. There's Hollywood and the current rash of shit that they feed us. Then there is the sons and daughters of Hollywood folk who get productions off the ground with the help of mommy and daddy and earn the oxymoron moniker of independent film making. That is like having an apartment, having mom and dad pay for it but telling people you live on your own. Then there is the so called "underground" which at one time really existed but now, thanks to the popularity of the home video camera is only populated by rich kids connected by the umbilical cord to mom and pops wallet. And all they produce is dreadful imitations of already dreadful Hollywood product. But not Andy. He had his finger on the pulse of true independence and with that comes the scorn of "not fitting in" and doing what everybody else does.
A QUICK BIO
Andy Milligan was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on 1929. His father was a career military man thus making Andy what many would call an "army brat." It was recently reported that Andy's mom was an alcoholic mental case, which would have a big effect on the way he viewed woman and portrayed them in his films. As a young man Milligan pursued a career in acting. He also sidelined as a puppeteer. He did live TV such as Kraft Theater, Armstrong Theater, Studio One and I Remember Mama. Being that acting is a difficult career and very often you remain unemployed, Andy moved to New York and worked in the garment district while maintaining ties to off broadway plays, both in production and acting. A friend of Milligans named Art Ford was the one who talked Andy into shooting a film. Andy purchased a used Auricon newsreel camera for $800 bucks and began shooting the film Liz on weekends using friends as actors. He used $7,500 dollars of his own money to shoot the film. These days you have stupid fucks spending over $10,000 bucks of mom and dad's money to shoot video. Here Milligan made a film for a little over $7,000. Andy began to seek distribution, hence enter William Mishkin. Mishkin agreed to distribute Liz if Andy would add some nudity to the film. Andy did so and hence a working relationship was born. Liz was retitled The Promiscuous Sex, and exploitation history was born. After this, Andy's career snowballed, leaving the public with a legacy of wild and maddening cinema, but never really giving Milligan the money he deserved, as film distributors are almost always crooks.
Allow me veer off here and to describe just what it is that makes a Milligan film a Milligan film! First off, it's Andy's trademark cinema verite hand held camera work that really makes his films stand out. Just about all his films where shot this way, making them truly the vision of there creator. The $800 Andy invested into the Aurocon paid for itself time and time again as Milligan used it to shoot all his masterpieces including Bloodthirsty Butchers, Man with Two Heads and Torture Dungeon. Milligan's camera is in essence the eye of the audience, prowling and creeping around tight corners in the claustrophobic settings. In fact, claustrophobia being a trademark Milligan essence, as his budgets forced him to keep the scope of his films tight, carefully clothing the sets in darkness and light, creating a sense of expressionism not seen since the days of silent cinema. The main criticism of Milligan's detractors is that his films come off as amateurish and look almost as if they were shot in super 8 mm. First off, it is true that the films come off very grainy, but this is do to the fact that they where blown up from 16 mm to 35 mm for theatrical exhibition. As in for the super 8 remark, well, that is the true charm of the films he made. That amateurish quality stands to destroy the mindset that really does believe you can't make a film without millions of dollars and hundreds of people. In fact, that is where most films budgets go to, not what is on the screen but rather all the millions of peons they employ to massage the overpaid actors' backs. Unlike Hollywood, every penny Mishkin gave Milligan showed up on the screen. In fact when Mishkin would complain about the lack of production value in Andy's flicks, Milligan would reply that "you get what you pay for". Milligan's horror films were almost always period pieces, this being done for the simple reason that Andy intended to always have his films in re-release, and by making a film a period piece it will disguise the true period the film was made in, hence not dating the film. However, the feeling of the late sixties does not dissipate from the Andy flicks as very often the actresses bear the ridiculous hairstyles of the time, an oversight but a marker none the less. Also, the obligatory nudity and crude gore also cash in on the innocent exploitation film at its prime, but Milligan's flicks have a surreal quality all their own. In essence, they are like living in a nightmare, that gross hand held camera reminding one of a documentary examining the seedier side of life. In fact, Bloodthirsty Butchers does a better job at capturing Victorian London than even Hammer films slick productions do, and the funny thing is that Andy's flicks were mostly shot in Staten Island, not London as so often reported. Body Beneath and the bulk of The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves are Here! was shot in England, but that's about it.
THE FAGGOT OF FEAR!
Andy Milligan was a homosexual. Generally, I would not even mention this, it's no ones business and should not matter in the assessment of a filmmaker. However, Andy's homosexuality is the backbone of his creativity, and a true component in a complex individual. I feel that by watching Andy's films there is a strong sense of conflict over his being gay, I'm not quite sure whether he really accepted it himself. Milligan was reared (no pun intended) in a time when homosexuality was laughed at and discouraged with the threat of violence. When Milligan came to New York, mecca of all gays, he could breathe a little easier, he was surrounded by his own kind. This still did not stop him from marrying one of his nude actresses, Candy Hammond. But this was really a marriage of convenience, Candy being a swinger who would fuck the whole world and Andy being the queer more in comfort with his off Broadway boys. Needless to say, this marriage did not last. But people having conflict with their sexuality is a serious problem that continues to this day. Despite the fact that gays are more socially accepted, and have climbed the corporate ladder to great success, and are now practicing Gestapo tactics in pushing their gay agenda, a lot of them still choose to hide. The bulk of associates involved in Cinefear turned out to be gay or asexual, and an inability to deal with this lead to all the problems that usually get blamed on me. In fact an actor in one of my films is as gay as you can get, everyone who sees him in action knows it, but he claims this is not true, he likes women. Yet I've seen this fella do simulated sex scenes with so called scream queens in amateur horror videos and these scenes are about as erotic as Andy's sex scenes, which are not erotic at all, in fact they are a turn off. That's like a straight male making good homoerotica, it ain't happening. Anyhow, getting back to the point, Andy's distrust of women flows through these films like a river unleashed, he is letting it all hang out, by doing this he braves the backlash, true freedom of speech at last, political correctness not even in place during those fantastic times we call the 1960's. But it isn't just women who take some criticism in Milligan flicks, the whole world is put under a microscope, and shown to be a pulsating barrel of pus that it really is! The poor victimize the poor, the rich prey on the poor and middle class alike, and God forbid anyone is to inherit a large some of money, as money represents power and anyone standing in the way will get demolished. And any truly chaste man or woman will usually never survive a Milligan film, the filth eradicates all good and then finally consumes itself. Is Milligan a misanthrope?! Damn right he is. Do you need to see his films? Of course you do. Without the misanthrope, every ones view will be candy coated Disney and Spielberg films, fun but not one foot in reality!
Milligan died in 1992 due to complications with AIDS. In the mid 80's Milligan pulled away from film making and operated one of many off broadway theaters. Disgusted with the deterioration of New York city, Milligan moved to California to start life anew. This was the at times conservative and moralistic Andy. Back in New York in the 70's, the out of control, acting out Milligan was known to have solicited rough sex from underage boys. According to Exploitation expert Bill Landis (see next page), an associate of Milligan's related a story of abuse when Andy broke the glasses of a young boy procured for sex. Shocking, maybe, but still part of the nature of the gay psyche. Typical Jekyll & Hyde antics from a man who could confront his own Demons but was unable to slay them. I've dubbed Andy the Faggot of Fear only because his films accurately portray fear, ignorance, isolation and angst better than any other independent filmmaker of the time (besides, Vincent Price already earned the title of Faggot of Horror many years back). For more fasinating reading on Andy, be sure to pick up Jimmy McDonough's Bio on Milligan called The Ghastly One, The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Milligan. Check Amazon for the book, it will be one of the best reads you ever undertake!