April 19: Weird Wednesday — Write about a movie that played on a Weird Wednesday, as collected in the book Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive. Here’s a list.
Andy Milligan was a maniac who made movies filled with maniacs. By all reports, he was in the same constant bad mood as nearly every one of his characters, just as willing as them to start screaming no matter what, no matter when. This may have been because he inherited the same bipolar disorder or schizophrenia that his mother had. Forget the words of Stephen King, who said that Andy’s films were made by “morons with movie cameras” and instead, just imagine the chaos of each film’s shoestring budget set with a fastidious Andy melting down and then savor the results.
The other thing about the Milligan Cinematic Universe is that often there will be supernatural beings. The Mooneys in this movie are all werewolves who transform once a month on the night of the full moon. Pa (Douglas Phair) has spent nearly all of his near-two hundred years of life trying to cure his family, which includes his caretaker Phoebe (Joan Ogden), the sadistic Monica (Hope Stansbury) who mutilates vermin and Malcolm (Berwick Kaler), who is so far gone that he’s kept locked up.
There’s also Diana (Jackie Skarvellis), who has come back home from medical school along with a new husband named Gerald (Ian Innes). She’s the last hope for the Mooneys, as she is the only one who doesn’t gain fur once a month.
Shot in London — along with The Body Beneath, Bloodthirsty Butchers and The Man with Two Heads — new scenes were added when producer William Mishkin wanted to cash in on the success of Willard. Those scenes — one has Andy in it — were shot in his Staten Island home. Milligan had a hard time getting rid of the rats, even when he tried to give them away to the audience that would come to see this film. He also plays the gunsmith who creates silver bullets and Mr. Micawber, a man who sells flesh-eating rats that have already bitten off one of his arms and a lot of his face.
Despite being set a century before, we can see and hear cars, as well as see electrical outlets, but man, Andy made all the costumes himself by hand and I can just imagine him getting out the patterns and swearing the whole time, shouting about thimbles.
The greatest thing about this movie is the title, which had to lure people in because it’s so good and then people would be confronted by a toxic family just shouting and snipping and screaming and that’s the real movie, not the furry masks or flesh-consuming vermin. That’s what I’m here for.
Here’s a drink recipe to get you through the film.
Red Eyed Black Rat
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 3 oz. dark rum
- 2 oz. cola
- 2 maraschino cherries
This one is pretty simple. Pour the juice, rum, then cola over ice and enjoy. For extra fun, drop in the cherries and pretend they’re rat eyes staring at you in the dark of the wasteland.
You can watch this on Tubi.