Color, 1968, 71 mins. 52 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Veronica Radburn, Maggie Rogers, Hal Borske, Anne Linden, Fib LaBlaque, Carol Vogel, Richard Romanus, Eileen Hayes
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Image Entertainment / Something Weird (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)

B&W, 1970, 77 mins. 49 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Berwick Kaler, Julie Shaw, Susan Heard, Felicity Sentance
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), BFI (Blu-Ray & DVD) (UK R0 HD/PAL)

Color, 1970, 82 mins. 11 seccs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Gavin Reed, Jackie Skarvellis, Berwick Kaler, Susan Heard, Richmond Ross, Emma Jones
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), BFI (Blu-ray) (UK R0 HD), Image Entertainment / Something Weird (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)

Color, 1970, 80 mins. 22 secs. / 79 mins. 46 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Gerald Jacuzzo, Susan Cassidy, Patricia Dillon, Neil Flanagan, Richard Mason
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Code Red (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

Color, 1970, 79 mins. 40 secs. / 78 mins. 40 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring John Miranda, Annabella Wood, Berwick Kaler, Jane Hilary, Michael Cox, Linda Driver
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Code Red (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Video Kart (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)

Color, 1972, 92 mins.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Hope Stansbury, Jackie Skarvellis, Noel Collins, Joan Ogden, Douglas Phair, Berwick Kaler
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Code Red (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Video Kart (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)

Color, 1972, 73 mins. 7 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Hope Stansbury, Jackie Skarvellis, Noel Collins, Joan Ogden, Douglas Phair, Berwick Kaler
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

Color, 1972, 88 mins. 38 secs. / 80 mins. 44 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Denis DeMarne, Julia Stratton, Gay Feld, Jacqueline Lawrence, Gerald Jacuzzo, Berwick Kaler
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

Color, 1972, 56 mins. 13 secs.
DIrected by Andy Milligan
Starring Neil Flanagan, Jaqueline Webb, Judith Israel, Paul Lieber, Jack Spencer, Frank Echols
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Retromedia (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)

B&W, 1968, 81 mins. 23 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Maggie Rogers, Candy Hammond, Robert Service, Lucy Silvay, Neil Flanagan, Gene Connolly, Helena Velos
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Image Entertainment / Something Weird (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)

Color, 1973, 87 mins. 17 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Laura Cannon, Neil Flanagan, Harry Reems, Paul Matthews, Earle Edgerton, M.A. Whiteside, Dorin McGough
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

Color, 1978, 77 mins. 32 secs. / 83 mins. 2 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Elaine Boies, Louise Gallandra, Jeannie Cusick, Dale Hansen, Stan Schwartz
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

Color, 1984, 92 mins. 21 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Deeann Veeder, Chris Georges, Leslie Den Dooven, Michael Chiodo, Lon Freeman
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

Color, 1974, 69 mins. 26 secs.
Directed by Andy Milligan
Starring Allan Berendt, Hope Stansbury, Patricia Gaul, Michael Fischetti, Pamela Adams, Eve Crosby, John Wallowitch, Pichulina Hempi
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Code Red (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

Color, 1978, 84 mins. 51 secs.
Directed by Robert T. Megginson (with Andy Milligan inserts)
Starring Luther 'Bud' Whaney, Mary Jenifer Mitchell, Cindy Tree, Bobby Astyr
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)

Once scorned as one of the lowest of the 42nd Street regulars whose exploitation films turned up on double and triple features for years, Staten Island-based filmmaker Andy Milligan has enjoyed a major reassessment over the past two decades. His ultra-cheap, mostly 16mm-shot horror and sexploitation have always betrayed a singular personality behind the camera, a man whose acidic, theatrical dialogue and DIY costumes and sets fit perfectly with the more prolific work he enjoyed on the stage in New York and later California. A pioneering book by Jimmy McDonough, The Ghastly One (now in its second The Ghastly Onesedition and already quite scarce), and a thorough appreciation in Video Watchdog went a long way to shedding light on Milligan's life and career, which is studded with butchered and lost films so numerous that in some quarters they've turned The Ghastly Onesinto the grindhouse equivalents of London after Midnight or Orson Welles' full cut of The Magnificent Ambersons. Milligan's gory costume dramas really kicked off with The Ghastly Ones in 1968, leading to a temporary relocation to England for a handful of films before returning home. Along the way his films became notorious for their ugly visual appearance, a result of shoddy 35mm blow-up prints and less than ideal sound recording conditions. However, we've since gotten to see restored versions of many of his films that have continued to expand Milligan's posthumous cinematic reach and earned a small but growing fan base of warped cineastes. Certain to increase that trend is Severin Films' watershed 2021 limited edition Blu-ray nine-disc set, The Dungeon of Andy Milligan Collection, which fills in many missing gaps in Milligan's history and presents fourteen films in one handy package, including significant, previously unseen restorations of five of his horror titles that make this worth snapping up all by themselves.

The madness begins with the film that was Milligan's most famous and financially successful film for decades, 1968's The Ghastly Ones, his first horror film and the one that set the pattern for much of what was to come (including violent wallpaper and a camera that turns somersaults at the end of particularly traumatic moments). Famously described by Stephen King in Danse Macabre as the handiwork of "morons with cameras" and also circulated under the title Blood Rites, it's essentially Milligan's riff on those murder mysteries about greedy relatives stuck together in an isolated house and getting bumped off The Ghastly Oneswhile The Ghastly Onesan inheritance is at stake. The difference here is that it's also loaded with H.G. Lewis-style gore scenes, not to mention that it's an ambitious period piece shot for pocket change in Staten Island. With a prominently toothed, homicidal hunchback handyman named Colin (Borske) on the premises, a mansion becomes the site for bloodshed when sisters Veronica (Hayes), Vicky (Linden), and Liz (Vogel) are summoned to spend three days in their ancestral home as a condition of their father's will. With their husbands in tow and domestic help on hand, they're soon besieged by macabre disturbances like a dead rabbit in a bed, bloody signs on bedroom doors, and eventually multiple murders including a grisly family dinner.

Essentially a stage play hijacked by maniacs, The Ghastly Ones offers one of Milligan's typical dysfunctional families who hurls barbs at each other and drag their significant others and other random people down with them along the way. It's an acquired taste to be sure but a ton of fun if you're in the right frame of mind, and Milligan's DIY approach to the cinematography and costuming gives it a bonkers, handcrafted vibe that so distinctly his you can spot it a mile away in any of his films. Among the actors, two are particular standouts: Borske, who acted for Milligan on and off all the way to 1987's Monstrosity and gets to ham it up here like crazy, and the incredible Maggie Rogers, who appears here as elder maid Ruth and worked on a total of six films for Milligan (starting with the lost The Naked Witch). Though the gore itself is definitely done on the cheap including a lingering but wildly unconvincing disembowelment scene, it's still effective at times including a genuinely wild climax that feels like a genuine nervous breakdown happening on film.

Initially released to disreputable theaters by the outfit J.E.R. Pictures (who handled a bunch of Doris Wishman titles), The Ghastly Ones was extremely difficult to find for decades unless you were lucky enough to stumble on the scarce VHS release from Video Home Library. That situation changed in 2004 when Something Weird arranged to release it on DVD through its distribution deal with Image Entertainment, culled from what is reportedly the sole usable theatrical print in existence. There's some obvious wear and tear, but it's generally in good shape with nice color and made for a very welcome release at the time. That disc also came with the heavily doctored theatrical release of Milligan's Seeds of Sin (plus two rough reels of Milligan's original workprint, a revelation at the time), a big batch of Milligan trailers, a gallery accompanied by Borske's neoclassical music, and an absolute stunner of an audio commentary with Borske and the legendary Frank Henenlotter that served as a major source of Milligania at the time with lots of anecdotes about the Off-Off-Broadway antics at Caffe Cino, the various cast members, and Milligan's often perilous directing methods. That same commentary is thankfully carried over The Filthy Fivefor Severin's Blu-ray, the first disc in the set, which sports a new HD transfer of that same print and looks quite a bit better than expected. The usual damage is here Depravedincluding a couple of bumpy reel changes, but the detail is pretty nice and colors look rich and healthy throughout. Like the other discs in the set, the DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono track is fine given the extremely thin, treble-heavy nature of the original recording methods, and the optional English SDH subtitles do what they can to capture a dialogue track that could cause some transcribers to surrender their will to live. The film also comes with two additional commentaries, one by the divisive Keith Crocker (who talks about his personal affinity for Milligan and goes through the backgrounds of some of the actors) and a 20-minute mini-commentary by Fred Olen Ray, who chats about his own memories of Milligan's films playing on the drive-in circuit (including catching this one paired up with The Headless Eyes), the ins and outs of film distribution at the time, and the shock of stumbling into films like this for an audience weaned on Hammer and William Castle. In "Ghastly & Depraved" (6m47s), veteran producer and film distributor Sam Sherman briefly goes into his own brushes against Milligan's films during the monster movie heyday while doing promotional work on the lost The Degenerates (originally called Sin Sisters), Depraved!, The Ghastly Ones (which originated with more sex than horror), and Doris Wishman's A Taste of Flesh. In "Talk of the Trade" (5m45s), actress Natalie Rogers offers a short recollection of her early acting days in which she appeared in another lost Milligan, title, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me!, after roaming around in the same theatrical scene. One huge bonus feature here is the sole extant reel from 1968's otherwise lost The Filthy Five (20m28s), presented in German with optional English subtitles-- a genuinely surreal experience for a Milligan. Oh yeah, and it has an extremely young Frederick Forrest! If this doesn't make you hunger for all of Milligan's early B&W sexploitation work to get rescued from a hidden vault somewhere, nothing will. Also included are trailer for The Ghastly Ones, the alternate Blood Rites title sequence, and another very cool find, the trailer for Depraved!, one of the Nightbirdslost sexploitation films previously represented only via publicity stills and also part of Sherman's promotional Nightbirdsstints.

Shifting gears a bit, disc two essentially marks the U.S. Blu-ray debut of a landmark 2012 Milligan double feature release from the BFI that came out as a dual-format Blu-ray and DVD edition in its Flipside series. At the start of his U.K. stage, Milligan directed the fascinating Nightbirds, sort of a psychological chamber piece of sexual anguish and melancholy mind games, which was promoted with a very long trailer and screened on a tiny handful of screens before disappearing completely from the cinematic landscape. While the trailer made the rounds since the late '80s on video compilations (including one of Something Weird's Twisted Sex collections), the film itself took on legendary status as the holy grail for Milligan fans as a key title lost to the whims of time. Rumors abounded about its status and the condition of available materials, with one gray market VHS company announcing it back in the late '80s, but nothing ever materialized. As home video has proven time and again, the seemingly impossible can happen when you least expect it, and lo and behold, Nightbirds returned from the dead after its lone surviving 35mm print went through a change of ownership from McDonough to the hands of director Nicolas Winding Refn (who later unleashed Milligan's incomplete House of the Seven Belles and Compass Rose on his site) and then to the BFI, who outfitted it with a special edition way beyond even what Andy's most famous films had ever received. (The process of creating a complete version of this film with the involvement of Something Weird was much more complex than you'd imagine, including multiple sources to pull together the full audio.)

So, was the wait for Nightbirds worth it? Absolutely, though this will be a bit of a shock to anyone who's only familiar with Milligan's horror output. This has its share of torment and a bit of blood, but it's more in line with his more personal, bizarre fare like Seeds. The simple plot charts the downward trajectory experienced by a young homeless Londoner named NightbirdsDink (Kaler) when he's spied puking on the street by spooky blonde Dee (Shaw). They retire to a vacant Nightbirdsloft and begin a sexual relationship that starts as a romantic playground but eventually becomes warped, with Dee becoming more controlling as other characters wander through their isolated makeshift home including a middle-aged prostitute (Heard). Dink also feels a need to nurture a wounded pigeon that crashes into their skylight, but Dee's instincts aren't quite as benevolent as his. As their strange master/slave relationship devolves, only one of them can come out on top in the end.

Perhaps due to Milligan's stage training, Nightbirds (originally titled Pigeons during filming) is a more structurally ambitious endeavor than some of his Gothic horror outings. The relationship between Dink and Dee unfolds in a series of acts sometimes closing with odd, haunting montages of lovemaking which splinter into jagged close ups of the actors' bodies before fading to black. It's an odd, elliptical editing decision that gives the film a cyclical, dreamlike atmosphere, and the two leads actually give pretty committed performances; while Shaw didn't go on to much, newcomer Kaler returned for five subsequent Milligan films and even found mainstream work ranging from Red Riding to the UK TV favorite Coronation Street. What's interesting here is how sexualized he is in front of Milligan's camera, which practically molests him a few times; in the rest of their films together, he was either presented as a hunchback (more than once) or a mentally damaged goon.

Kaler's initial experiences working with Milligan and some of his future roles as well are covered in depth on the release thanks to a solid audio commentary with moderator Stephen Thrower (author of the delirious Nightmare USA), which spans everything from Kaler's early jobs (as a cashier and struggling actor) to his working rapport with Milligan (and the director's sharp temper) and his successful pantomime stage productions in York. It isn't the most frenetic commentary you'll ever hear by a long shot, but the info here is valuable as it captures a peculiar chapter in both of the men's unorthodox careers. He also has an anecdote about how the pigeon died for the film, backing up the stories of Milligan's sadistic streak in real life and on the set. The transfer of the film itself looks very good, especially when one considers its ragged history and how close to oblivion it could have been. Shot on less than superlative film stock on 16mm, it's a grainy film with a fair amount of built-in debris and rough scene edits at times; however, that's actually a positive here as it adds to the seedy, bygone aesthetic of the main feature that would have been muted with an avalanche of excessive digital tinkering. Detail in motion is impressive, with a tight and pleasing cinematic appearance very close to watching it thrown off a projector. Anyone who's accustomed to the dupey, blown-up look from most of Milligan's films on video will be shocked to see how crisp and atmospheric this one actually is. (The BFI release differentiates itself by also throwing in a dialog-only track, which is actually quite a bit more interesting than it sounds; this is essentially the raw production audio as it was originally The Body Beneathstitched The Body Beneathtogether for Milligan's assembly of the film, and you can sometimes hear sounds and direction obviously scrubbed out of the final audio mix.) The very long (nearly six minutes!) original trailer of Nightbirds is included as well.

The other feature on this disc is another film Milligan shot in England the same year, The Body Beneath. This Gothic vampire yarn has long been regarded as one of the best of his horror output, especially after Something Weird issued it on DVD in 2001 (one of their earliest titles out of the gate) in a drastically improved transfer for the time off of the original 16mm elements rather than the 35mm dupes used for most Milligan transfers. The Blu-ray was spectacular when it first came out and still looks great; the original 16mm negative and a 35mm print for audio and reference purposes were used with some crucial missing footage slotted back in (such as a peculiar foot-centric sex scene deleted from release prints), bringing the running time back up to its longest possible iteration. The hailstone-sized grain blobs that terrorized his work for many theater audiences are exchanged here for a much more solid, refined appearance, with beautifully modulated, natural grain levels and sometimes psychedelic colors, especially the tripped-out climax. The opening credits sequence here also looks more solid than the Something Weird edition, which had to pull that segment from a 35mm print.

As for the story, it's about a string of vampire attacks in the English countryside centered around a church graveyard tied to the debauched Rev. The Body BeneathAlexander Algernon Ford (Reed), The Body Beneathwhose vampiric bloodline is running out thanks to inbreeding. He decides to bring all of his human relations to Carfax Abbey, with one pregnant family member igniting his hope to continue the family tree across the pond in America. And yep, Kaler pops up in here as a hunchback, of course, and gets crucified to a tree in one of the film's most memorable moments. The theatrical trailer for the companion film is also included, and the BFI edition also has a valuable enclosed booklet features a heartfelt foreword by Refn, an absolutely hilarious intro by McDonough, a pretty spectacular 7-page chronicle of the often seedy circumstances behind Milligan's film distribution and his eventual production setup in London, additional Thrower essays about both of the films at hand, and a very detailed and compelling Milligan bio by Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas. The Severin disc ditches the dialog-only track and instead features an audio commentary by familiar film scholars Vic Pratt and Will Fowler (authors of The Bodies Beneath, appropriately enough), whose encyclopedic knowledge of British pop culture, horror traditions, and locations come in very handy here with a thorough appraisal of the film as a unique entry in both the director's work and a worthy take on modern vampirism.

Disc three is undeniably going to be a huge selling point for many fans as it features the much-rumored director's cuts of two of the horror films Milligan made for The Body Beneathnotorious The Body BeneathNYC cheapjack film distributor William Mishkin, both scissored to get an R rating and yet still comparatively popular in their compromised forms. First is Torture Dungeon, essentially Milligan's take on violent Shakespearean tragedies like Richard III but staged in the wilds of Staten Island with a bevy of colorful costumes and theatrical sets (as well as sparing but effective gore effects). Here Milligan vet Gerald Jacuzzo, a.k.a. "Jerremy Brooks," gets to take center stage as the debauched Duke of Norwich and gets to spearhead tons of juicy, overripe dialogue in a cast of prime Milligan oddballs for a production originally shot in 1968 as Macabre (so it really predates the British period). Rogers gets an equally incredible role here as a wizened crone named Margaret who's privy to the Duke's hellish torture dungeon of the title and conceals a dreadful family secret, while Borske and another beloved repertory member, Neil Flanagan, get some plummy one-liners as well. (It's also one of the prime examples when you can hear Milligan fleetingly yell directions off camera, a charming quirk if you take it in the right spirit.) The plot's your usual deal about a would-be despot conspiring to murder his way to the throne, with his sister, Lady Jane (Dillon), even inflicted with the growing spawn of their incest. Stuck in the middle is skinny dipping, dress-popping peasant girl Heather (Cassidy), who has a boyfriend but turns into the Duke's pawn in an intricate game of family musical chairs. Along the way you also get a deeper look at the Duke's bedroom proclivities, which incorporate another of Milligan's The Body Beneathtrademark hunchbacks and a threesome scene that must've gotten a The Body Beneathvery vocal reaction on 42nd Street.

Like Milligan's other Mishkin horror entries, this one was first issued on VHS under the memorable Midnight Video line (an imprint of Select-a-Tape) in the early '80s and was very scarce unless you frequented exactly the right kind of mom and pop video store. A poor quality DVD eventually surfaced from the mysterious "Mr. Fat-W Video," while Code Red issued a Blu-ray in 2014 along with three other Mishkin/Milligan titles -- all of which were matted to 1.78:1, effectively destroying any compositional sense whatsoever with actors' heads getting bisected all over the place. Mercifully, the Severin release is completely open aperture and looks great with plenty of breathing room, rich colors, and fine detail. However, the big news here is that it's the greatly extended original cut, clocking in about 40 seconds longer with some slight extensions including a tad more nudity and gore. The film didn't really feel all that choppy before, but it's nice to have here in its original full-strength cut. In addition to the familiar trailer, the film also comes with a fun, very dishy commentary by Milligan historian Alex DiSanto, who goes into the eccentricities of Milligan's choice of camera, his self-destructive tendencies, and the very colorful characters around him on stage and screen. He's also full of info about Mishkin's shady practices and even offers a tantalizing theory about how this was intended to be more of a pure sexploitation film. Also, be prepared to hear a few phrases here you'd never expect in a commentary!Bloodthirsty Butchers

Bloodthirsty ButchersPaired up on the same disc is one of Milligan's best-known films, Bloodthirsty Butchers, his sex-and-violence take on the familiar story of Sweeney Todd. Shot in London for Mishkin and conceived under the title The Demons, it's a far cry from Stephen Sondheim as seemingly friendly barber Sweeney Todd (Miranda) slashes the throats of occasional patrons to pilfer their valuables. He gets rid of the bodies by providing them to baker and lover Mrs. Lovett (Hilary), who turns the corpses into meat pies. Aiding their murderous racket is slow-witted, hooker-loving Tobias (Kaler), while the innocent Johanna (Wood) and her lover, Jarvis (Cox), get caught in the dark spiral of capitalism and bloodshed.

Somehow even more melodramatic than the earlier Tod Slaughter version of the story, Milligan's film is another banquet of emotional volatility and random bursts of rage with the occasional cleaver put to gruesome use. Unfortunately the film was severely hampered upon its release by numerous jarring, obvious cuts to all of the violent scenes, rendering several crucial moments incoherent and leaving only a few tantalizing stills behind to indicate what could Bloodthirsty Butchershave Bloodthirsty Butchersbeen. The Midnight Video release and subsequent Video Kart DVD and Code Red Blu-ray were all the usual cut version, so the Severin release will be a real revelation to even those who shunned this film before. What we get here is only 60 seconds longer, but what a 60 seconds! From the opening hand chopping onward, all the violence is extended including a couple of jolting moments involving innards play and implied cannibalism that certainly go beyond what an R rating would have allowed in 1970. This film suffered the most of all the Code Red releases with the matting wrecking nearly every scene, so it's great to have here with tons of welcome headroom and the actors' faces now fully in the frame. Interestingly, this is the only one of the Mishkin horror titles where the older Blu-ray also sported some extra dead space on the right and left sides (maybe someone familiar with 16mm film formats can figure out why), but that info was completely extraneous. The respective trailers for both films are also included.

On to disc four, we get another big missing piece of the Milligan puzzle with the most baffling film of his Mishkin tenure, The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! Originally shot and edited as a domestic Bloodthirsty Butcherswerewolf melodrama called Curse of the Full Moon, the film was retooled under the distributor's Bloodthirsty Butchersinstructions with Milligan going back to shoot lengthy new insert scenes involving pet rats a la the recent hit, Willard. The overhaul just resulted in audience confusion and wonky pacing in the final result, which somehow became the first Milligan film to go out with a GP rating (an earlier, looser precursor to today's PG) despite containing the single most brutal and upsetting moment in any of his films (involving the real fatal abuse of an unfortunate rodent). Essentially a lycanthrope variation of The Body Beneath at heart, it involves the cursed Mooney clan whose tainted bloodline hasn't yet extended to its youngest member, Diana (Skarvellis), who's come back home after just getting married. Her relatives including crotchety, bedridden dad (Phair) aren't too pleased with the arrangement, but it's crazed sister Monica (Milligan MVP Stansbury) who takes the cake with her love for rats and her tendency to lead torture sessions in the yard involving the family help. Diana claims she's now the only possible hope for the family to continue since the curse hasn't afflicted her, unlike her other unfortunate siblings like idiot brother Malcolm (Kaler) and the older Phoebe (Ogden) and Mortimer (Collins). However, what price will her possible salvation require?

The theatrical cut of this film is an infamous mess, of course, but it still has that beloved Milligan bitchy dialogue and poisonous family atmosphere to give it his own distinctive Bloodthirsty Butchersimprint. Those merits are definitely amplified by the Severin release which includes not only the familiar released version but Milligan's Curse of the Full Moon director's cut, which plays much, much better throughout with a more coherent and logical pace. Bloodthirsty ButchersThis improved option can be played either with a dialog-only track as it was edited (which is very dry and airless) or with the finished audio slugged in from the Rats cut to give it some music and aural texture. Definitely watch it with that second option for your initial viewing for maximum enjoyment. For some reason the theatrical trailer (which has been available on Grindhouse Trailer Classics 3, The Weirdo, and Monstrosity) is absent here, instead replaced with a clunky video trailer made for the earlier Video Kart DVD. Quality-wise the two cuts are identical, looking much better here than the older DVD and the cropped Code Red disc. One great extra here is "The World of Andy Milligan" (15m10s), a thorough locations featurette narrated by Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali pointing out many familiar spots around the New York City area from Milligan's life and films including the former locations of Caffe Cino and La Mama. Get ready for a few fantastic surprises here including some archival photos revealing The Man with 2 HeadsMilligan's ties to the fashion industry.

Though he never got around to tackling the mummy, Milligan did get a crack at Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thanks to The Man with 2 Headsanother Mishkin project, The Man with 2 Heads (first prepped as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Blood). Audiences expecting a two-headed monster movie were more than a bit puzzled when they stumbled into this one, the second and last Milligan film to go out with a GP rating (after very extensive cuts, but more on that in a moment). Here William Jekyll (DeMarne) is conducting experiments in disproving the existence of the human soul and the afterlife, instead striving to isolate the physical causes behind good and evil. His experiments conducted with colleague Jack Smithers (Kaler) naturally end up taking a very dark turn when he transforms into the cane-wielding Dr. Blood, who haunts the red light district of London and indulges in every depravity his nice guy alter ego would never inflict on his wife, Carla (Lawrence).

Thanks to its literary source and relatively normal structure, this one has long been a favorite of fans and one that even Milligan haters tend to go a bit easy on. The usual quirks are all here of course including the familiar tumbling camera, but it works well and really gets wild in the final stretch with a dark, psychedelic The Man with 2 Headsfinale that feels like the hallucinatory ending from The Body Beneath by way of Gaspar Noe's Climax. The Man with 2 HeadsThat aspect is even more obvious in the previously unseen director's cut, which runs a whopping eight minutes longer and essentially makes for an entirely new, significantly more potent viewing experience. The earlier Code Red Blu-ray featured the usual PG cut along with a 1m8s reel of silent deleted scenes, but this is a whole different ball game with many scene extensions and a completely different, stronger take of the party sequence that goes into kinkier territory than you might expect. It's a major rediscovery for Milligan nuts to be sure and one of the high points of the entire set. The much softer alternate theatrical version of the party sequence (2m14s) is included here as an extra along with the trailer.

Sharing space on the same disc is the shortest film in the bunch and the one that marked Milligan's awkward transition to shooting in 35mm, Guru the Mad Monk. Another of his historical costume melodrama horrors, this one gives the center stage to Flanagan as Father Guru (not a monk), who exploits his position in the church on a medieval penal island where hope is in The Man with 2 Headsshort supply. Young guard Carl (Lieber) is in love with the imprisoned Judith (Israel), The Man with 2 Headswho's sentenced to death, and thanks to advice from Guru, he hightails it to the strange Olga (Webb), Guru's blood-obsessed paramour who offers a powder that can simulate death-- in exchange for fresh supplies at the execution spot. Also on hand is Guru's hunchbacked sidekick, Igor (Spencer) who satisfies his master's more sadistic impulses when they aren't being inflicted on the congregation.

Once again trying to camouflage modern-day New York with only partial success, Milligan delivers a comparatively lush film here with some moody interior shots at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Manhattan. (One would assume this film doesn't get pulled out too often for revival screenings there.) As usual the dime-store blood and dismemberment get doled out here in quick bursts including an early outdoor torture fest, but for the die-hards the real fun here is in the performances with Flanagan getting to shine in particular. How "good" this film is will be a matter of personal taste as usual, but this one has proven to be a solid gateway title for some viewers thanks to its relative visual ambition and extremely short running time. Plus you can count the anachronisms aplenty here, which just The Man with 2 Headsadds to the fun. The Man with 2 Heads

Released under Milligan's own short-lived company Nova International Productions (which allowed it to play some engagements paired up as a co-feature to The Body Beneath), Guru has been treated like a quasi-public domain title for a long time leading to a variety of video editions from companies like Mill Creek and Sinister Cinema, all pulled from pretty rough video sources. The best option for many years was the 2002 DVD from Retromedia, though that was outclassed by wide margin when a theatrical print with very good color was sourced for a new HD scan that ran for a while as a digital offering from Vinegar Syndrome. That same scan appears to be the same base as what's used for the Severin release, which is offered in both 1.33:1 and matted 1.85:1 options, the latter presumably to replicate how it was projected at the time. That said, the 1.33:1 is much easier on the eyes with more natural compositions and, for some reason, better color timing with richer reds and browns in particular. The earlier digital version evidently used some cleanup tools to fix the prevalent green scratches that were present in the source, while the Blu-ray keeps things as is with what appears to be an accurate scan of the print, warts and all. In addition to the theatrical trailer (presented here in HD in far better quality than we've ever had before), the disc also comes with "Remembering Andy Milligan" (12m49s), an archival SD interview with set photographer Tom Vozza who shares his memories of being around Andy ("a crazed rabbit") during his later years in Los Angeles. The film itself also comes with a Crocker audio commentary touching on the uphill battle of Milligan shooting in 35mm and the story behind Nova.

The real dark horse in this set comes next with a film that's never had anything close to a fair shake on home video until now. Dismissed by just Legacy of Bloodabout Legacy of Bloodeveryone (including McDonough), Legacy of Blood is a semi-remake of The Ghastly Ones that changes the character names while keeping the gist of the story and macabre highlights. The difference here is that the script is actually much better and peppered with a number of hysterically bitter zingers worthy of Seeds, as well as more interesting characters and a far higher amount of narrative incident. What absolutely destroyed any chance the film might have had were its extremely minimal theatrical play and, far more severe, the baffling decision to release it on VHS only in a virtually bloodless edition from Gorgon Video. Shorn of every splattery highlight, this tedious mess was padded out with some chatty outtakes to bring the running up to 83 minutes from 77 while obliterating pretty much anything that made the theatrical cut worthwhile. Retitled Legacy of Horror (probably because the "blood" all went bye bye), that version turned up later from a few cheapie VHS companies that filled up grocery store racks into the 90s -- and then the film dropped off the face of the earth for decades. Frequent TV airings of another film called Legacy of Blood, a retitling of Carl Monson's tedious 1972 film Blood Legacy, Legacy of Bloodadded to the annoyance surrounding this film with many listings erroneously crediting it as the Milligan Legacy of Bloodone.

Fortunately that whole situation is finally corrected with the Severin release, which features the first presentation in any format of the full-strength theatrical cut since that tiny handful of initial screenings. It's a real revelation, to put it mildly, with the proper framing, clear(ish!) audio, and improved image quality making it far, far more enjoyable than ever before. The gore scenes are pretty strong stuff with a barrage of splashy highlights in the last twenty minutes, including fun variations on the two big basement murders and a climactic villain demise that now finally makes sense. The worthless TV cut is here as well ripped in its full glory from a VHS copy, so take a look for a reminder of the punishment we had to endure before this. Rather incredibly, this one also comes with two featurettes: "Legacy of Chris" (10m35s) with actor Chris Broderick hilariously explaining how goofy years-long happenstance led to him running into Milligan in the theater community and getting set alight in what amounts to the role originally played by Borske, and "Blood or Horror" with executive producer (and distributing company owner) Ken Lane talking about getting involved with the film including a potential deal with Troma and the annoyance Milligan had about ripped off for so long by that point. He also goes into some colorful side stories about Milligan, too, including his take on the marriage that left all of his cohorts amusing or highly confused. A fuzzy but interesting TV spot (1m11s) is also included, presumably created to push the VHS release since it bears the video-generated Legacy of Horror title.

Disc seven is essentially gravy here as it presents two major CarnageMilligan restorations previously available on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome, Seeds and CarnageFleshpot on 42nd Street. (Click on the titles for the full reviews.) Both are justifiably cited by many as the director's two best films, with the versions here being the same complete cuts on the prior releases (the superb director's cut of Seeds and the 1.33:1 transfer of Fleshpot with its two extraneous hardcore scenes included). Image quality appears to be the same, and though the standalone releases are absolutely essential including their exclusive bonus features, extras ported over here from Seeds include its theatrical trailer and Milligan's powerful, groundbreaking gay short film, Vapors.

Last but certainly not least on disc eight is a real sight for sore eyes, a gorgeous scan of Milligan's latter day 35mm supernatural film, Carnage, straight off the camera negative. Though it was bootlegged into a few gray market DVD sets, this one hasn't had a bona fide release since the VHS days from Media that was perhaps the easiest Milligan film to find in the latter half of the '80s. The last of Milligan's Staten Island productions, this one opens up with a Carnagenewlywed couple Carnagecelebrating their wedding night with a nasty suicide pact via gunshot. Flash forward to their house's newest residents, Susan (Veeder) and Mark (Georges), who find their dream home turning into a nightmare with the specters of the dead couple wreaking deadly havoc on random visitors and even driving some to suicide. Telekinetic mayhem is also part of the deal with random implements getting flung through the air, and it soon becomes clear that these pesky poltergeists are determined to make history repeat itself.

Rather slick and sedate by Milligan standards, this one has a pokier pace than usual but delivers with a handful of highly entertaining ghost attack scenes that feel like something out of The Boogeyman. The '80s horror vibe and lack of familiar Milligan faces make this one a bit disorienting after ambling through seven discs of his output by this point, but it's a fun genre exercise if you know what you're getting into. Anyone who had to squirm through the fuzzy old VHS transfer will be gobsmacked by how good it looks here, with the negative kept in virtually pristine shape and colors looking so vibrant it could have been shot last week. A gorgeous job all around.

Sharing space on the same disc Bloodis a film that used to be one of the most elusive in Milligan's filmography, Blood, which made its first home video appearance Bloodin any format back in 2015 on Blu-ray from Code Red paired up with Legacy of Satan. This would actually prove to be his penultimate horror film of the decade, only followed in 1978 by Legacy of Blood, and it's one of the nuttiest examples of his formula at the time: get some cheap theater actors together, dress them up in period clothing in Milligan's two-story house in Staten Island, have them spit pages of acidic dialogue at each other, and throw in some gore or a sex scene every ten minutes.

Lawrence Orlovsky (Berendt) and his wife, Regina (Stansbury), have just rented a new house and make for very odd tenants indeed. He's always busy in his laboratory doing experiments by day, and she never goes out in the sunlight due to a rare skin pigmentation disorder. As it turns out, Regina looks like a rotting fanged mess until she gets her regular medical injections Lawrence generates from the bloodsucking plants he keeps cultivating in his lab, which are nourished by the couple's oddball servants. Trouble starts when a man named Carl (regular New York cabaret performer Wallowitch) shows up accusing Orlovsky of thieving from his dad's estate and Bloodpulling dirty deals behind in his back, which sets Bloodoff a chain of murders exacerbated by the fact that the Orlovskys are very unhappily married with Lawrence frequently chasing other women in the vicinity. As it turns out, the married couple's monstrous secret keeping them together could be enough to be the undoing of everyone in the entire household.

For reasons best left undisclosed, this one feels like the closest thing to Milligan's take on an Al Adamson film with lots of ridiculous monster activity, hammy performances, and some of the bitterest dialogue ever written in a career filled with nasty exchanges. Of course, it wouldn't be a real Milligan film without a deformed assistant, and in this case we get three of 'em, with top honors easily going to the mentally damaged Carlotta (Hempi), a frizzy-haired collection of tics you have to see to believe. Unfortunately in the tradition of The Rats Are Coming, you also get a bit of barbarism committed against a live mouse that serves little purpose and should tick off any animal activists watching this at home.

For some reason this film was out circulation for many, many years apart from a handful of bootleg copies and unauthorized downloads pulled from a very soft, ugly, and severely cut version clocking in at a mere 57 minutes. This much longer print (presumably the same one that Bloodsurfaced at Exhumed BloodFilms in 2014) was presented as is on the Code Red edition with scratches, scuffs, and faded colors intact. The Severin presentation is actually a huge improvement with drastically richer color timing and some welcome clean-up to some of the more severe element damage, making the whole thing much easier on the eyes than before. The running time is the same, representing the longest version around. Also on the disc are a trailer for Milligan's later Monstrosity and, tucked away as a glorified extra, an entire third feature films: Toga Party, a 1979 Mishkin release that tried to salvage an unsuccessful stab at a cult musical, Pelvis, by having Milligan shoot some tedious "college" party scenes a la National Lampoon's Animal House (albeit with a major lack of actual togas). Mostly it's an excuse for porno vet Bobby Astyr to ham it up like crazy and random topless women to jump around giggling, none of which jibes at all with the rest of the film about a young man trying to make it as a singer with would-be hits like "Nazi Lady." Good luck slogging through this one, which is pulled from a very faded but watchable theatrical print.

Of course, the Milligan fun doesn't just stop with the movies themselves. The boxed set packaging also sports a ninth disc, a full CD of Borske's electronic music called The Bearded Lady's Wake. Even better, it comes with a thorough and extremely useful 128-page book, Andy Milligan's Venom, penned by Stephen Thrower. Apart from a quick biographical sketch at the beginning, it mostly veers away from the jaw-dropping life story already covered in depth in McDonough's book and instead hones in on covering the films themselves, including whatever's known about the numerous lost titles in admirable detail. Needless to say, if you're on the right wavelength, "essential" doesn't even begin to cover this one.

TORTURE DUNGEON: Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Torture Dungeon Torture Dungeon Torture Dungeon Torture Dungeon Torture Dungeon

TORTURE DUNGEON: Code Red (Blu-ray)

Torture Dungeon Torture Dungeon Torture Dungeon Torture Dungeon Torture Dungeon

NIGHTBIRDS: Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Nightbirds Nightbirds Nightbirds Nightbirds Nightbirds


Nightbirds Nightbirds Nightbirds Nightbirds Nightbirds

THE BODY BENEATH: Severin Films (Blu-ray)

The Body Beneath The Body Beneath The Body Beneath The Body Beneath The Body Beneath


The Body Beneath The Body Beneath The Body Beneath The Body Beneath The Body Beneath

BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS: Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Bloodthirsty Butchers Bloodthirsty Butchers Bloodthirsty Butchers Bloodthirsty Butchers Bloodthirsty Butchers


Bloodthirsty Butchers Bloodthirsty Butchers Bloodthirsty Butchers Bloodthirsty Butchers Bloodthirsty Butchers

GURU THE MAD MONK: Severin Films (Blu-ray) (1.33:1)

Guru the Mad Monk Guru the Mad Monk Guru the Mad Monk Guru the Mad Monk Guru the Mad Monk

GURU THE MAD MONK: Severin Films (Blu-ray) (1.85:1)

Guru the Mad Monk Guru the Mad Monk Guru the Mad Monk Guru the Mad Monk Guru the Mad Monk


The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads


The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads

THE MAN WITH TWO HEADS: Severin Films (Blu-ray)

The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads

THE MAN WITH TWO HEADS: Code Red (Blu-ray)

The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads The Man with Two Heads

BLOOD: Severin Films (Blu-ray)

Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood

BLOOD: Code Red (Blu-ray)

Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood

Reviewed on April 19, 2021.