Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970)

BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS (1970)
Article #1220 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-17-2004
Posting Date: 12-14-2004
Directed by Andy Milligan
Featuring John Miranda, Annabella Wood, Berwick Kaler

A murderous barber kills customers for their jewelry and leaves the bodies to the woman next door who uses them for meat pies.

We all knew this was coming sooner or later; my initiation into the oeuvre of Andy Milligan. Having only seen one movie of his certainly doesn’t make me an expert on him, but I do feel the need to document my first impressions of Milligan’s work.

As a writer, Milligan is actually not too bad with dialogue; he even manages to come up with a good line or two here and there. At any rate, bad film fanatics won’t find the quotable dialogue of an Ed Wood movie in an Andy Milligan film. He is somewhat verbose; the characters do talk at length. But Milligan at least has enough of a sense of pace to have them talk and reply to each other quickly so we don’t get those deadly big gaps between cues. At any rate, I find a Milligan dialogue scene to be much easier to take than an equivalent scene from Jerry Warren.

However, in terms of story, Milligan is less successful. The problem is that there really isn’t a story. It’s largely a succession of scenes of characters talking to each other, usually followed by one of them killing the other. In fact, only one of the many murders actually occurs in the barber shop.

The acting is variable; it ranges from the competent to the annoying. All in all, the acting is somewhat better than you’ll find in your average Herschell Gordon Lewis film. Granted, that doesn’t take much…

The sound is horrible. It’s even worse than it is in a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie, and that’s saying a lot. And that ludicrous music that plays in the background throughout any given scene is fairly tiresome; fortunately, it tends to fade into the background.

The camerawork and lighting are both truly awful; indeed, it appears to be on a technical level that Milligan really stinks. In some scenes, it’s very difficult to figure out what’s going on, simply because it’s hard to see anything. As for the editing, it’s also pretty awful, though I am left wondering just how much of Milligan’s movies were left intact by distributors. The gore effects are certainly none too convincing.

So, those are my initial impressions of the work of Andy Milligan. He’s not quite as bad as my imagination led me to believe he would be, but there really isn’t anything I can truly recommend here. Between the unpleasant characters and the cheap, sleazy nature of the proceedings, I don’t see myself really looking forward to catching the rest of his stuff.

And one side note; I once heard that Milligan claimed that he made his movies period pieces so they could be replayed years later and no one would know when they were made. That would work if you had the budget to make a convincing period movie; as it is, all I see is a bizarre hodgepodge of costumes from various eras, and there’s no period sense to the settings at all. Based on the haircuts, it looks like it was made in the late sixties/early seventies. I don’t think his idea worked.

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