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The Ghastly One: The 42nd Street Netherworld of Director Andy Milligan (Nicolas Winding Refn Presents)

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  188 ratings  ·  27 reviews
From 1965 to 1988, Andy Milligan made an astounding 29 exploitation movies, including Gutter Trash, Torture Dungeon, The Ghastly Ones, Seeds, Bloodthirsty Butchers, and Fleshpot on 42nd Street. For most of the shlockmeisters, exploitation was a joke. But for Milligan-a sadist, a misogynist, a maniac-this was his own private reality. The Fassbinder of 42nd Street, Milligan ...more
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published April 15th 2020 by FAB Press (first published 2001)
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Duke Haney
I was at Skylight Books here in L.A. a few days ago, and I saw, taped to a shelf, a sign that recommended this book. You must know the kind of sign I mean: it was written by an employee. All indie bookstores nowadays seem to have these signs: "Miranda recommends Room!" (I look around. Without a name tag to identify her, I'm sure that girl at the cash register is Miranda.) "Saul recommends Freedom!" (I look around. Without a name tag to identify him, I'm sure that guy grinding coffee is Saul.) So ...more
Stephanie McGarrah
However big a scumbag asshole you think you are, however perverted and sick you think your buddies are, you all probably still seem pretty average when compared with Andy Milligan and his cohorts. The stories still seem shocking today, which is something I never say (I don’t think I need to explain why). I’m only 50 pages in and already engrossed in the stories of Cine’s strange theater and its debauchery. The people inhabiting this world are simultaneously horrific and fascinating. Milligan pus ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cinerama
Weirdest of many weird facts in this bio: Milligan's obsession with the Golden Girls. Hang my brain upside-down and it makes sense -- a hit sitcom with a secret queer aesthetic and misanthropic angle, what else could comfort this guy as his hospice Boswell wiped his incontinent ass?

Except Milligan -- whose sexual attentions usually focused on ugly, mentally-challenged, messed up dudes -- hated "queers". And if he had a sense of humor, there's no evidence in this bio or in his dire body of work.
May 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never seen any of Andy Milligan's films, though I've read about them previously. The majority of them were shot for $10,000-15,000 and played largely in Times Square grindhouses (an overused term at these days but appropriate). I understand that the ones that survived (half are believed destroyed) are pretty difficult to watch. I still want to see some of them.

As for the book itself: I must admit I got hooked into it. I wasn't sure at first; I wasn't fond of the author placing himself into
Erich Scholz
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, OK...I know who Andy Milligan is...or do I? I've seen a few of his films. As the great Psychotronic famously mentions, "If you're a Milligan fan, there's no hope for you." Milligan's movies, to put it bluntly, suck. Even his fans admit this. But there's something about McDonough's bio that goes beyond the subject and straight into the heart and soul of an artist and what makes him tick. Yes, Andy Milligan was an artist. There can be no denying it. The first part of the book delves into the r ...more
Kevin Dickson
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, an exquisitely written biography of an almost forgotten underground film maker, is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The writing is precisely evocative, and as a whole it’s definitely a weird example of the biography being better than the work of its subject. Oddly touching, this book is also a meticulous love letter to the old, seedy New York as well as a big-hearted portrayal of Andy Milligan, a cantankerous sociophobe. Occasionally shocking and insanely hard to put down, as wel ...more
Ken Saunders
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"For wardrobe, Milligan tended to use couch upholstery material - the heaviest, most uncomfortable fabric possible. "The costumes in TORTURE DUNGEON- that was the real torture," said Dillon. Of course Milligan had no money for transportation to his obscure Staten Island locations. Borske remembered seeing the entire lot of medieval misfits "standing at the bus station in these fuckin' costumes. They said, 'we tried to hitch a ride, but nobody would pick us up.'"
"Will you shut up about your fuck
Aussiescribbler Aussiescribbler
“I should have killed Andy,” Jimmy McDonough says at the beginning of his biography of Andy Milligan, director of such cinematic travesties as Torture Dungeon (1970) and Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1973).

Very often artistic creation allows a civilised individual to give expression to their dark side. “Who would think that such a sweet guy could come up with such dark and twisted novels/movies?” we ask.

This isn’t that kind of story. The depravity of Milligan’s sex melodramas and the sadistic violenc
Matthew Wilder
There is a peculiar kind of cinephile who only loves one flavor. It is the aberrant stink of sewer gas, mixed with the piss of a toothless hobo, the phlegm of a slumlord and the failing colostomy bag of a Vietnam vet turned maniac sniper. These are grindhouse addicts—and I find even in this fetid subcult there is a dividing line that cordons off the Way Too Far. Take a look at the brand Something Weird Video some time...its admixture of cardboard dreck made by a consortium of dentists in Nebrask ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
I read this book after reading the author's other bio on Russ Meyer. I have yet to see an Andy Milligan film, but this book gave me an idea as to what to expect. Probably one of the most sadistic filmmakers of all time, the behind-the-scenes stories on how he got off on putting his crew through hell were jaw dropping. A bigger surprise from this book was the history of 42nd street and what a dangerous and scummy place it was before it got cleaned up. I understand the nostalgia for it, but after ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of trash/horror/exploitation movies and have only seen one Mr Milligan film:"The Ghastly Ones", and I genuinely hoped it was the last I ever saw by him.
The problem with it was that it committed the worst crime in movies:it was boring.
Having now read this very well written and researched book, I must say it's made me want to see other films by him.
Or rather, it's made me want to have been able to see his theatre productions, to me it seems that's really where his crazed imagination
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exhaustive deep dive into the beautifully weird and warped world of Andy Milligan, exploring his background, experiences, and of course his utterly unique and painfully personal body of work. McDonough does a great job contextualizing Milligan's oeuvre with respect to the attitudes and environments that informed it, including a very in-depth and eye-opening detour into "The Deuce" and the downtown theater scene in NYC in the '60s and '70s. It's a riveting read, by turns hilarious and appallin ...more
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who care about movies, deviance, and New York.
Illuminating, incredibly absorbing, and weirdly touching. I might find it difficult to appreciate Milligan's insane, unpleasant, confronational films without having read this book--but knowing about his life, the films are fascinating. Each one is like a corrupted, tortured soul. Sort of like Lance Loud (but, I'd say, much less admirable as a person), Milligan was like the Forrest Gump of New York underground/trash culture in the '60s and '70s. Between the two of them, they did everything, knew ...more
Aug 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in biography or movie-making
Recommended to CleverGirl by: my friend mike catalano
jimmy mcdonough makes this asshole nobody's ever heard of your slimy, pornography-obsessed, slightly uncle-ish hero. i, personally, have a deep love and appreciation of horror movies and a facsination with exploitation pictures, so that and the incredible writing make this one of my all time favorites. this author is best known as neil young's only authorized biographer, so that give you an ideas of what caliber non-fiction you will get from checkin this out. also a real-feeling portrait of old- ...more
Oct 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing biography. The life of ultra-low budget filmmaker Andy Milligan is a journey through hell -- the polar opposite of redemption through art.

The cast of real-life personalities range through the days of Cafe Cino (where off-broadway was born) through 42nd Street Grindhouse theater owners up to those faithful few who knew Milligan during his protracted death from AIDS in the 90s. There is nary a redeemable person in the lot.

It is a fascinating read for those with the stomach.
Daddy Bookworm
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really great read. Milligan, and those individuals in his orbit, are such great characters and the reader is taken omn a tour through sleazy NYC/Times Square during this period of time (late '60s/early '70s). ...more
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
If you don't like the movies of Andy Milligan, you might like the story of his wild and slightly wicked life. As of now, it's my favorite biography. And I love his films. ...more
Jun 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2007
I'd never heard of Milligan but he was a madman according to this biography. He churned out c-film after c-film for $10,000 and they played in the seedy 42nd St. area theatres before disappearing from the world entirely. Lots of underground NY theatre stuff as well. Milligan was kind of a sadist who loved to torment actors/friends/anyone and some of the crazy stories of his films and film shoots almost seem made up. Not sure I even want to watch some of his sex and horror exploitation films but ...more
"Andy Milligan screamed his soul out in his dime-store creations. It was the wail of a banshee, of a werewolf, of a shrieking skeleton mocking the black night. A voice too painful for the world to hear."

Hands down the single best biography I've ever read. A seriously life-changing read.
Jason Coffman
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely astonishing/horrifying book about one of the most bizarre filmmakers in history. Highest possible recommendation.
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely incredible read that takes you into the mind of cult director Andy Milligan. One-of-a-kind bio.
Adam Hudson
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly researched and ultimately devastating, this is the ultimate guide to the life and work of one of the truest artists of the 20th century.
Jake Akawayne
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Suggest by Patton Oswalt
Samuel Moss
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really really entertaining. Milligan and everyone around him is a total trainwreck. Pure voyuerism and a great view into the insane world of b-movies and exploitation.
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cleanflix customers
The title really says it all...
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good so far. Can't wait till he starts directing. ...more
Sheikh Tajamul
rated it really liked it
Nov 24, 2017
Micah Bucey
rated it it was amazing
Mar 02, 2015
Charles Meadows
rated it really liked it
Apr 10, 2011
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