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The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Milligan Paperback – May 28, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Milligan's greatest films were The Orgy at Lil's Place, The Naked Witch, Fleshpot on 42nd Street and Monstrosity (a violent, bloody rape revenge fantasy that was a cross between Frankenstein and The Golem). Shooting on budgets that hovered around $10,000, Milligan who turned out 29 movies between 1965 and 1988 was infamous; his movies were appallingly shot, often ludicrously plotted shock films that played in 42nd Street grind houses, drive-ins and avant-garde film festivals. No easy subject for a biographer, Milligan, who died of AIDS in 1990 at the age of 61, was drawn to (in no particular order) drugs, violence, s&m sex, misogyny and general weirdness. McDonough's verbatim interviews, which form the spine of the book, reveal a man who could be alternately brutally honest, obstructionist, deceitful and quite kind. McDonough (who has written for the Village Voice and Spin) is careful to add well-researched, nuanced context. His portrait of Milligan's importance to the famous Caffe Cino, for example, considered to be the beginnings of Off-Broadway, are startling, notable additions to theater history. Although McDonough is a loyal fan he even worked with Milligan's production team as part of his research he maintains a critical eye and provides a worthy historical overview of both the aesthetics and business of exploitative cinema. Students of popular American culture, film, as well as of gender and gay and lesbian studies, will relish this intelligent portrait. 91 b&w photos. Agent, Jeff Posternak/Andrew Wylie.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The Marquis de Sade had nothing on filmmaker Andy Milligan, who between 1965 to 1988 cranked out a prodigious number of plays and 29 sex-and-exploitation films, many of which are now lost, with such sleazoid titles as The Filthy Five, Gutter Trash, Fleshpot on 42nd St., and Torture Dungeon. It would be (sl)easy to dismiss Milligan, who died of AIDS in 1991, as a grindhouse auteur, but that, as journalist and biographer McDonough so wonderfully and effectively explicates, would be an egregious mistake. Juxtaposed with Milligan's story, told with the help of a cornucopia of interviews, including trenchant commentary and extended passages from Milligan himself, are the colorful and significant tales of the developing Off Broadway scene, the birth and rise of the exploitation film industry, and that Ber-nude-a Triangle of "all sizzle, no steak" celluloid called the Deuce, or 42nd Street. Chock-full of movie stills, lurid poster art and advertisements, and some great excerpts from Milligan's film scripts, McDonough's book succeeds overwhelmingly in making the respectability case for Milligan. Undoubtedly, it will also lead many to seek out Milligan's work; may y'all have better luck than this reviewer had at your local video store. Clearly, this title will not be everyone's bowl of borscht, but it is enthusiastically endorsed for all large public and academic library film and American studies programs. Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; Reprint edition (May 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556524951
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556524950
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,295,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jimmy McDonough's biography of Neil Young, Shakey, was critically acclaimed The New York Times bestseller. He has also written biographies of Russ Meyer and Andy Milligan, and has written for publications including The Village Voice and Variety.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By nikita88 on February 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
andy milligan made the kinds of movies that leave the watcher scratching his head and wondering 'what the hell...?' movies made in the most primitive of 'do it yourself on whatever you can find' equipment and on ridiculous budgets- that a good 30% of them are lost should come as no surprise- the surprise is that ANY of it was saved- and that is thanks to film buffs and historians.

sooner or later people will recognize that the value in these 'guerilla' film makers lies in the documentation of urban locales that would be lost if not for the denizens who frequented them and documented them so well. there will always be those who call bukowski a genius and fail to see people like andy milligan as anything more than a hack. the irony.

i personally found this book a treat- though it's subject matter was unsettling most of the time- and jimmy mcdonough's treatment of cafe cino and the deuce is worth ther read on it's own just for it's historical value alone. reading the book didn't make me stronger, and i still can't wash some of it off- but it was a dynamite read, and definitely worth the time i put into reading it.

if the merit of a biography is to interest the passive reader into delving further into it's subject matter, then jimmy mcdonough has succeeded where other biographers fail.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chadwick H. Saxelid on November 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Jimmy McDonough does a superlative job of bringing the fascinating life of the late and almost completely unmissed misanthropic sexploitation/schlock horror movie maker Andy Milligan to light. Reader be warned, this is an unflinching look at life in the nightmarish rough trade underworld of New York. Milligan started in amateur theater before helping to create the boiling milieu that birthed the Off-Broadway Theater movement in the early sixties. Then he moved to the 42nd street grindhouses, making exploitation 'classics' that are eye scalding in their badness and impossible to forget, no matter how hard you try. Yet McDonough continually points out that, as bad as Milligan's movies were, they could only be made by Andy, being infused with the writer/director's utter contempt for women, family, and just about everything else humanity offered. Being a recalcitrant and secretive subject for McDonough, Milligan (as the author warns) sometimes fades from the narrative, but never from the world he inhabits. By the time Milligan leaves theater for the exploitation movie business we can fully understand why McDonough found Milligan such a hypnotically fascinating figure. For fans of exploitation movies, The Ghastly One is an essential book. Highest recommendation.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Nolte on January 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many may be unfamiliar with the work of low-brow filmmaker Andy Milligan but he made a lasting impression (can be taken two ways!) on my film watching experience as an impressionable teen gorehound in the 70's/80's. To say his films are abysmal wouldn't be innacurate but,by the same token, there's something about them that stays with you long after you've watched them. An edge, a tone that exists under the surface and in the ways his characters interact that made on beleive that Milligan was more than just an exploitation filmmaker. Jimmy McDonough got to know Milligan and has revealed ALL in this amazing book. From Milligan's obvious hatred of women, his misantrhopy, sadistic personality, promiscous lifestyle, the works. The discussion of the films is fascinating, but more so the relationship between subject and biographer that developed. McDonough was there right to the very end.
Milligan was a true visionary, a fact that audiences would be blind to in their haste to call him a "bad filmmaker". He was a true sadist and his films prove this.
The best film-related book of recent times.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Greg Goodsell on October 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a scorching read. Andy Milligan, as you are all aware, is the no-budget director of such anti-masterpieces as "Torture Dungeon," "Blood thirtsty Butchers" and "Vapors." Milligan was indifferent to such technical niceties as editing, sound and coherency. More than any other schlock director, Milligan used his camera as a blunt tool for exorcising demons with claustrophobic stories involving perversion, murder, mutilation and incest. You probably won't enjoy an Andy Milligan film -- but you will never forget one either.
Jimmy McDonough does an excellent job chronicling Milligan's life and times: from sailor thrown out on a "lace discharge," to dress maker, to avant-garde stage director to finally an exploitation fillmmaker, "The Ghastly One" never fails to astound. Milligan was very much like the films he made. Abusive, extreme and awful. The stories on display in this volume are shocking and relevatory. The most naked and telling part of the book is when the author befriends Milligan in his Hollywood phase, while the director was dying from AIDS. Milligan remains cantankerous until his dying breath, with one last prank pulled on the material world.
I MUST include two criticisms; 1.) The book is overly reliant on footnotes (one on every page!). The anecdotal information is better left incorporated into the text. 2.) Minor inconsistencies here and there. McDonough says Milligan's "Monstrosity" is best-seen film of Milligan's next to "Fleshpot on 42nd Street" when it is only available on bootleg!
Other than that -- this is a must-read volume to all fans of low-budget filmmaking.
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