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Andy Milligan

Preceded by: American exploitation - exploitation film - director


Andy Milligan was a director of exploitation films during the 1960s and 1970s.

During the early 1960s, Milligan turned to film making as a change of pace for his life. He met some of the actors for his early films at Caffe Cino; a small Greenwich Village coffeehouse for men that served as a hothouse for rising theater talent like Lanford Wilson, Tom Eyen, and John Guare. In 1963, Milligan brought that feeling to his first movie, the gay short Vapors. Set in the notorious St. Mark's Baths, it was written by Hope Stansbury, the raven-tressed beauty who would star in his later films.

Milligan then hooked up with famed sexploitation producer William Mishkin and made 11 features, all shot with a 16-mm Auricon camera on short ends (unused snippets of film from regular shoots). Some of those include Depraved! (1967), Seeds ("Sown in Incest! Harvested in Hate!"), and Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1973). Many of these early works play like bizarre moral tales where sleazy characters get violently paid back for their excesses. The director also traveled to London in the late '60s to shoot exploitation horror flicks like Torture Dungeon, The Body Beneath, and the riotously titled The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! Fittingly, Milligan set up shop in a Victorian mansion located on Staten Island within walking distance of the ferry and his own house. The House soon became "Hollywood Central," where he filmed most of his movies with budgets ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. Milligan was a one-man army, with writing, directing, building sets, and sewing costumes for splatter epics like The Ghastly Ones (1968). His usual stock company (Stansbury, Neil Flanagan, Hal Borske) was often joined by Staten Island locals who were dragged into performing.

Andy Milligan was heavily into S&M and had very few serious relationships (all with men). The friends he did have were as emtionally troubled as he was. A Vietnam veteran named Dennis Malvasi, who once drifted into Andy's troupe, made headlines in March 2001 when he and his wife were arrested for aiding the flight of fugitive James Kopp, the suspected murderer of a New York abortion doctor. One boyfriend, Wayne "Human Toothpick" Keeton (so-named for his gaunt physical build), was a good-natured Louisiana hustler who starred in Monstrosity in 1988. Keeton's death from AIDS in 1989 hit Milligan hard, and he soon began having his own health problems when Milligan learned shortly afterwards that he too had contracted AIDS, apparently from Keeton. With no insurance, little money, and the era of exploitation films long over, Milligan went into a reclusive decline until his death on June 3, 1991 at age 62. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Milligan [May 2005]

The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Miligan () - Jimmy McDonough

  1. The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Miligan () - Jimmy McDonough [FR] [DE] [UK]
    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.--From Publishers Weekly

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