The Body Beneath (1970)

The Body Beneath (1970)

The cover to the Australian release on DVD of the film

Film: Probably known best for such horror and exploitation titles as The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! and Fleshpot on 42nd St., the late Andy Milligan, who died in 1991 of AIDS, was described as ‘the only director worse than Ed Wood’. Whilst that may be an exaggeration, Milligan’s films are incredibly low budget, but the sense of ‘camp’ within them makes them somehow humorous…and ominous. Milligan, a navy brat and dress-maker who ran the clothes shop Ad Lib in New York during the 50s, dabbled in stage productions until he finally made his first feature in 1965, a gay short film called The Vapors. From this humble beginning, he teamed up with producer William Mishkin, and together they made 11 features, sordid morality stories where the nasty antagonists are always faced with their come-uppances, which were often violent. In the late 60s, he moved to London where he made his exploitation horror flicks, including this feature, The Body Beneath also known as Vampire’s Thirst.

The Reverend Alexander Algernon Ford (Gavin Reed), an ancient vampire, who resides in Carfax Abbey, near Highgate Cemetery, close to three of his female descendants, requires the womb of one of his relatives. The lucky one being Susan (Jackie Skarvellis), to return the bloodline of the Ford family to its former glory by having her mate with strong fresh blood and give birth to immortal vampire babies. Assisted by his quiet wife, Alicia (Susan Heard), his hunchbacked Beatle-haired assistant Spool (Berwick Kaler) and a trio of green faced ghouls, the good reverend goes about organizing a vampire feast where their future is to be decided.

Clearly gay and proud, Andy Milligan’s life as been described as more bizarre than his movies, for example, to celebrate his marriage (yes, marriage) to one of his actresses, Candy Hammond, he cruised gay bars on Staten Island. Milligan’s movies, all filmed on left over film stock with a 16mm Auricon camera, are handheld horrors where ethics are thrown out the window. His flowing camera style crosses the line from claustrophobic and moody to occasionally downright annoying. His scripts, all inspired by great works (this one clearly being Dracula), are contrived but still acted quite well in a vaudevillian sense. Another note of interest with Milligan’s movies is that the more ornate costumes were made by himself under his alias Raffine. Watching this movie makes one feel as though they are watching a Hammer movie, filmed with a Carnival of Souls budget.

Camper than a row of tents, The Body Beneath somehow entertains, and proves that Milligan was no hack, but had an inimitable style. Not a movie for big budget blockbuster lovers, but with the vampires, cannibalism and immolation, fans of trash cinema will have a ball.

Score: **

The menu screen from the Australian DVD release of the film.

Extras: The Gallery of Exploitation Art is a great 6 minute montage of movie posters with a radio commercial soundtrack. Posters from films such as The Peeping Phantom, Fanny Hill Meets Dr Erotico and others are accompanied by radio commercials for The Female Butcher, The Girl Snatcher and companions of their ilk.

Trailers for Milligan’s films The Body Beneath, Guru the Mad Monk and The Vapors, which describes him as ‘the New Leader in Underground Filmmaking’.

The surprise on this disc is Milligan’s first short film, The Vapors. Running at 32 minutes and 20 seconds, the Vapors takes place in a gay bath house, where a young gay man meets an older married man, and they talk. Milligan’s epileptic camera work is particularly effective here, although the drama of the main part of the story is undercut by Benny Hill-ish queans over acting the gay stereotype with silly segues. Filmed in Black and white, The Vapors is a surprisingly moving tale.

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s just silly enough that it does seem to be irresistible to rewatching.

The review was done with the Australian DVD release of the film.

New YouTube Post: Blood Hunt Video Game

So I’m trying to be consistent with my YouTubery, so here is a new episode for World Dracula Day.

In this episode I have a look at the new free-to-play, battle Royale game, Blood Hunt from Sharkmob games.

Bloodhunt

Please check it out and of course, like and subscribe.

Captain Kronos, the Comic!

Ok, so I must admit I’ve been a little bit lazy when it comes to the ol’ To Watch Pile, but I have been distracted. The good thing is you, dear reader, probably won’t notice as I try to run the blog six weeks ahead so there is no interruption if I need a week away or something.
For the past two weeks though, I have had a couple of things I really love outside of Horror get released at my local video game specialist.

First was Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the first person game based in an alternate universe when the Nazis won the First World War. In itself it is a horror film, and the story with this one (so far) has been full of dread, with great graphics and amazing gameplay, and a free ‘GI Joe’ styled toy of BJ, the hero of the piece.

A promotional poster for Wolfenstein II.


In the same week, Mario Odyssey was released for the Nintendo Switch. I have been waiting to buy a Switch until the new Mario was released and I have grabbed 4 games to various deal of success. Odyssey is truly an amazing piece of gaming equipment!

Finally, a week after those two releases, we have the big daddy release that I buy every year, Call of Duty World War II, which after three years of scifi styled stories (4 if you say Ghosts was a truly scifi setting) we are back to boots on the ground, old school weapons. Funny, after three years of complaining about the movement being far to big a factor of those games, I am finding my skill totally lacking, but it’s a good looking game… maybe I’ll get better at it.

This isn’t me doing a market report or boasting of my crap gaming skills, no, this little piece is to tell you all about an amazing comic that may have slipped by without being noticed.

Titan Books have a fledgling comics line that seems to be picking up steam, which thankfully doesn’t have a shared universe like Marvel or DC and is instead a series of licenses like Assassin’s Creed, the aforementioned Wolfenstein, Warhammer and The Evil Within, just to name a few.

This new series I am excited about is based on a Hammer Horror film called Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter.

One of the many movie posters to Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter


This series is written by Dan Abnett, probably best known for the creation of the 2000AD strip Sinister Dexter, and has worked on several Marvel titles The Punisher, War Machine and various X-men titles. I’m not the biggest fan of Sinister Dexter, but I have enjoyed his writing on other series though, including some Doctor Who Magazine comics he also wrote.

The highlight for me though is the art by industry legend Tom Mandrake. I love Mandrake’s work as his art is very pre-Image comics, very proper like artists like John Buscema and Joe Kubert (probably because he was trained at Kubert’s school), and he has worked on many comics over his time, and is know for the co-creation of Batman villains Black Mask and Film Freak. Over the years he has mainly worked on DC titles, but also for Marvel, First, Eclipse and Image Comics.

This comic is doing something that I detest which is alternate covers, but I do like the fact that some of the alternates are called ‘Hammer Glamour’ and have photographs of Caroline Monroe on the cover.

The photo covers to Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, issues 1 and 2.


Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter tells the tale of a group of miscreants sometime in the 18th century who hunt vampires… as the title may suggest. Captain Kronos is a handsome ex-soldier, who is fast on horse and swift with sword, Grost is his hunchbacked, one-legged assistant and finally Carla, lovely, ruthless and skilled at fighting.

This comic furthers his adventures and is full of much vampires and derring-do. I certainly hope it can maintain the quality of these first two issues. If you are a fan of swashbuckling comics, vampires and old school art style, you’ll probably like this comic.