The Ghastly Ones (1968)

*. When going over the Something Weird Video catalogue — and let me say up front that I love the work they do — it’s hard to pick a “worst movie” or “worst filmmaker.” I don’t think anyone, least of all the people responsible for this crap, were under any illusions about it being crap. But of all the “major” titles Something Weird has brought out, surely Andy Milligan’s The Ghastly Ones (also known as Blood Rites), a movie that Stephen King dismissed as being made by “morons with cameras,” would be hard to top (or bottom).
*. That said, I actually liked this movie a little more this latest time around. Given how bad I knew it was, perhaps I was more in the mood for enjoying whatever good there was in it. So, for example, while Milligan’s camerawork is awful, the editing is brutal, the sound inaudible, and the lighting hopeless, he does manage to pull off some interesting compositions with the faces in his cast. It’s not Bergman, but it shows he had an eye.

*. There’s also some camp charm, supplied mainly by the talky and sometimes funny script. I like the nod about living in “sexual harmony” at the estate, and the inexplicable business with Walter (“a man of abnormal tastes” who reminded me of the similar role played by Stefan’s “mother” in Daughters of Darkness). Meanwhile, the costumes and décor (get a load of that wallpaper!), which I think fascinated Milligan, do make it all seem a bit different.
*. As so often (or always?) with the Something Weird DVDs, listening to the movie with the commentary is preferable. Here it’s provided by actor Hal Borske, who plays Colin. He doesn’t actually say much about the movie though, preferring to indulge more general reflections on Milligan. There was an uptick in interest in Milligan after a biography came out, but it seems to me that the best that could be said about him is that he was a character. Most of the time he appears to have been a really miserable shit.
*. The acting is wretched. The leads can’t even seem to kiss properly, looking more like they’re trying to push of against each other. But there is one exception. That would be Maggie Rogers as Hattie, who gets to go full Betsy Palmer at the end quite effectively.

*. What was that stuff coming out of the lawyer Dobbs’ nose? Hair? Boogers? A combination of both, I guess.
*. I like the “head in a pot” gag, but wouldn’t it be obvious to everyone that Hattie had to be the killer seeing as she was the one who brought the pot out and set it on the table? I mean, wouldn’t she be the one putting the lid on in the kitchen?
*. I can’t recommend this, as it really is a piece of garbage. I’m not even sure what the point was. Did these films make money? Were they useful as a calling card to greater things? Still, if you’re a fan of junkhouse cinema of the period you may want to check it out. Otherwise I don’t think there’s any reason to waste your time.

34 thoughts on “The Ghastly Ones (1968)

    1. Alex Good

      Apparently had a budget of $13,000 (not a typo) so I think he might have raised it among friends. Actually I seem to remember them talking a bit about this on the commentary but I don’t recall the details.
      Anyone can make a movie, Fraggle!

      1. Alex Good Post author

        You could do a Get Carter remake! And a better one than the Sylvester Stallone version because you could shoot it on all the original locations.
        I’m really looking forward to this!

      2. Alex Good Post author

        Disappointing to be sure, but time takes some locations away and provides new ones. Now you can shoot the climax on that giant Condorman statue! Just think of the possibilities!

    1. Alex Good Post author

      They actually do a good job putting out these ultra-low-budget exploitation flicks from this time, usually with commentaries with the director (that are more interesting than the movies themselves). Their best stuff are the Herschell Gordon Lewis movies. But some of it is so dreadful you don’t want to bother.

      1. Alex Good Post author

        You really need to have a sweet tooth for sleaze. I’m glad though that they did the Lewis movies. And Basket Case is their other big release. At some point I’ll be posting on Bat Pussy (1973). Can’t resist “the worst pornographic movie ever made.”

      2. Alex Good Post author

        Too much TV, too little time. Like I say, it takes me a couple of years to go through a full series. I did watch The Sopranos, Mad Men, The Wire, and Breaking Bad. Still getting through The Walking Dead.

      3. Alex Good Post author

        That was going to be the next one up!

        I’m also part way through American Horror Story, but since every season there is a different standalone miniseries I sort of stalled out after season four I think. I only thought the first season was really good. I don’t like it when a show goes downhill.

      4. Over-The-Shoulder

        I admit, some go on for too long and there’s more series than need be. But TV has the possibility of being better than a film because you get more time with the characters, to get to know them and see them grow in a twisting and turning plot. The possibilities are endless and you’re without time constraints.

      1. Alex Good Post author

        Not even remotely similar. How you can go from that neo-Gilded Age trash to the bold chiaroscuro arabesque and grid is beyond me.

        Did you pattern your house after Carrie’s?

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