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Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Milligan [Paperback]

Jimmy McDonough

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Product details

  • Paperback: 375 pages
  • Publisher: A Cappella Books; New edition edition (1 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556524951
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556524950
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 14.3 x 2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 510,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"One of the best books about filmmaking" -- Roctober Comics & Music --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


From 1965 to 1972 Andy Milligan made 20 exploitation movies, including Gutter Trash, Torture Dungeon, Bloodthirsty Butchers, and Fleshpot on 42nd Street. For Milligan -- sadist, misogynist, maniac -- exploitation was no joke; it was his reality. Based on hundreds of interviews, including many with Milligan himself, this is a tale of violence-physical, sexual, psychological. Even the author got sucked in, appearing in one of Milligan's last gore-fests and nearly getting killed. But this book -- profusely illustrated with strange stills -- isn't just about a lunatic with a movie camera. It's also an anecdotal history of exploitation films, the birth of off-Broadway theatre, the Warhol crowd, and the malevolent place called Times Square. The sick secrets revealed here will shock even hardcore grindhouse fans. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Milligan every bit as ghastly as the title implies. 8 Nov 2002
By Chadwick H. Saxelid - Published on Amazon.com
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love 'em or Hate 'em 17 Feb 2007
By nikita88 - Published on Amazon.com
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.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on a misunderstood filmmaker. 1 Feb 2002
By David Nolte - Published on Amazon.com
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.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Ed Wood's life look like a bed of roses! 10 Oct 2001
By Greg Goodsell - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Look at Sordid Chapter in Film History 4 Oct 2001
By "djdklinger" - Published on Amazon.com
This is a beautifully written, brutally honest, well-researched, wholly unsentimental, and non-judgemental portrait of low-budget sexploitation filmmaker Andy Milligan. While some of the violence and depravity displayed by Milligan and his players is portrayed in such graphic detail as to occasionally make the reader feel thoroughly soiled, McDonough's book is like a particularly devastating car wreck-it's a horrifying spectacle from which it's impossible to turn away. After having read this, I have no desire to see a single scene from an Andy Milligan movie, but found this book to be an incredibly rewarding look at the seamy underbelly of low-budget American cinema, as well as the fascinating putative beginnings of New York's off-Broadway theater.
McDonough does a remarkable job chronicling the offbeat, the eccentric, the forgotten, and I'm now especially eager to read the author's long-time-forthcoming biography of Neil Young.
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