DVD Extras Steal The Show
frankenberry | Los Angeles, CA USA | 10/15/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"THE BODY BENEATH is really only for Milligan fanatics...It's actually not as bad as some of his other films, but it just doesn't have much to offer. A centuries-old vampire clan inhabits a carfax abbey and seeks out new blood to continue their survival. Whatever.What makes this DVD special, though, are the extras included. Primarily of interest is Milligan's early b&w 30 minute featurette "VAPORS" which takes place in a gay bathhouse in NYC. It's a bit tame by today's standards and somewhat banal, but it does have a gritty quality and is fascinating to watch. Also on the DVD are a great selection of Milligan trailers including "The Body Beneath", "Guru The Mad Monk", "The Ghastly Ones", "Seeds", "Vapors"......and topping it off there's a 6-minute photo gallery of lots of Rare and Very Obscure horror and sleaze movie posters /ad art...many of them are not Something Weird titles....and as you watch the gallery, the audio track plays hilarious old radio spots for various horror-trash titles. So, the movie kind of bites, but the extras make this a worthy purchase for horror fans. It would be nice if Something Weird and Image collaborated on releases JUST featuring trailers and ad art of this nature. Skip the movie!"
Manfred Zeichmann | Austria | 11/11/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Admittedly I am not familiar with the work of Andy Milligan. And after watching THE BODY BENEATH I surely won't check out his other movies.
This strange vampire film is simply boring beyond belief. Obviously it was shot on a shoestring budget. It is talky and outright silly. There are vampires trying to cure their medical conditions ( e.g. high blood pressure ) with blood transfusions and leeches, laughable makeup effects ( watch out for those female vampire underlings!), cheap gore and a sex scene, where the director seems far more concerned to display the nude actor's body than the feminine charms of the actress. ( Does this indicate a homoerotic proclivity? Well, watch the extra feature VAPORS...) Neither the very few and poorly done gore scenes nor the pseudo-straight sex scene add much entertainment value and the film isn't helped by bad actors and pedestrian direction either.
Picture quality is not up to SOMETHING WEIRD's usual standard to say the least.
Please notice: This is not a it's-so-bad-that-it's-good affair. It is REALLY bad.
While I appreciate SOMETHING WEIRD's efforts to release obscure horror and exploitation movies on DVD, some films are better left forgotten.
As for the extra features there are several trailers for Andy Milligan films: THE BODY BENEATH ( which is far more entertaining than the movie as a whole ), THE GHASTLY ONES, GURU THE MAD MONK, VAPORS and SEEDS OF SINS. There is also an Andy Milligan directed underground short VAPORS. If a 40 year old coming out tale set in a gay bathhouse makes a good supplementary feature for a horror film is questionable. Admittedly it is better in terms of direction, acting and dialogue.
Really cool is the Gallery of Exploitation Art feature! But this excellent piece does surely not warrant the price of the DVD."
For what it is worth, the serious side of Andy Milligan
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 04/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Once again the mails are slow so we will not be dealing with "Just for the Hell Of It" and "Blast-off Girls" this Saturday night but early next week and instead we return to the works of Andy Milligan. A cult auteur in the realm of underground films it is required when mentioning Milligan's name to quote Michael Weldon's choice riposte from "The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film" wherein he declared, "If you're an Andy Milligan fan, there's no hope for you." This week the hypothesis will be tested with the feature film "The Body Beneath" and the infamous short "Vapors." Milligan made 29 movies between 1965 and 1968, consisting mainly of gory horror films dressed up as period pieces, such as "Bloodthirsty Butchers" and "The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!", and sex melodramas with rampant nudity, including "Gutter Trash" and "Fleshpot on 42nd Street" as part of New York City's "Grindhouse" cinema. Something weird has a more representative coupling of Milligan's films with "The Ghastly Ones" and "Seeds of Sin," but this one has its moments (I have discovered that "Guru the Mad Monk" is also available on DVD).
Do not try to figure out the point in "The Body Beneath" where the title makes sense because this 1970 film never reaches that point. Graham Ford (Colin Gordon) is hanging out at home while his wife, Anna (Susan Clark), is putting flowers on her mother's grave and being jumped by three weird looking women in colorful makeup, when he answers the door and discovers the Reverend Alexander Algernon Ford (Gavin Reed) and his wife, Alicia (Susan Heard). The couple has just moved into Carfax Abby, which should be familiar to anyone who read Bram Stoker's "Dracula." So when Anna starts wearing a scarf around her neck all the time and longing for the night to come, things start making sense. Then Paul (Richmond Ross) and his girlfriend Susan Ford (Jackie Skarvellis) are rolling around naked and we are wondering if Milligan is inserting gratuitous sex scenes into his films. But then it turns out Susan is pregnant and the Reverend has an idea about how to save his vampire family from decades of what I guess would still be considered inbreeding. Let us just say the Ford bloodline is running thing and transfusions are not enough to turn the trick anymore.
What you have to understand "The Body Beneath" is arguably Milligan's most atypical film. It was made in England and for the most part the director is trying to make a serious horror film (all definitions being relative). The only good thing about this film is Reed's performance as the Reverend, which is good in the sense of being so weird it is quite compelling. His manner of speaking makes him the only character worth listening to and the problem with this film is that the climax is not one speech but two explaining the vampire master plan. At that point I was convinced we were heading into the last real, but there was only one scene left in the film (I immediately hit the reverse scan button to see if I had accidentally skipped a chapter or something). That means the high point is when this English vampires goes off on the United States, declaiming: "What is America? What is it made of? Pimp, prostitutes, religious fanatics thrown out of England just a few short centuries ago! They are the scum of the Earth!" There are some cheap blood and gore effects, but you know those lines are what you are going to remember about this film.
For a Something Weird DVD the extras are pretty sparse. I was really expecting more form a Special Edition than what we find on their exploitation double-features that I usually end up watching on Saturday night. There are trailers for "The Body Beneath" along with Milligan's underground film "Vapors" (no sound), "The Ghastly Ones," "Guru the Mad Monk" ("lust was his religion"), and a really long one for "Seeds of Sin." "The Ghastly Ones" and "Seeds of Sin" are available as a double-bill from Something Weird and along with "The Body Beneath" are, to my limited knowledge, the only Milligan films available for what passes for your viewing pleasure. "The Blood Beneath" is rather sedate compared to these other two films, so do not think that watching just this film gives you a true taste of the Andy Milligan cinematic experience (although "Seeds of Sin" has clips from porn films spliced into it by the producers). There is also a Gallery of Exploitation Art With Horrorama Radio Spot Rarities.
What makes this DVD worth viewing is the inclusion of "Vapors," the 1963 short that was Milligan's first cinematic effort. The only thing this 32-minute short has in common with the feature film is that they represent attempts by Milligan to make serious films. Thomas (Gerlad Jaccuzzo) goes to take a steam bath at the St. Marks Bathhouse in New York City where he encounters a series of homosexual characters. There is some caricature involved--two characters are named Thumbelina (Richard Goldberger) and Taffy (Larry Ree)--but for the most part there is an attempt not to sensationalize the subject matter. Keep in mind that this was a time where the mere topic of homosexual made "Vapors" an exploitation film. At the end when Thomas and Mr. Jaffee (Robert Dahdah) have a conversation and the young man has admitted this is his first time, you may well find yourself forgetting that this in taking place in a gay bathhouse. Is this because it is early Milligan or because the script is by Hope Stansbury and not the director? Probably the latter given the way Milligan handles the camera when Thomas is undressing. But whether it is because of the director or the writer it is the loneliness of the lifestyle that sticks with you.
"The Body Beneath" comes in at three-and-a-half stars just for the lead's camp performance while "Vapors" earns four stars. The extras are not much but since they are mostly trailers for other Andy Milligan films there is at least some consistency here. But for a special edition there really should be more so they come in at three-and-a-half stars too. The key thing here is that "Vapors" is the one part of the Milligan oeuvre that deserves to be a historical footnote in terms of exploitation film and Grindhouse cinema."