Sunday, November 15, 2009

Guru, the Mad Monk – review

dvdDirector: Andy Milligan

Release date: 1970

Contains spoilers

We are back in the twisted world of Andy Milligan – the man who brought us the Body Beneath and Blood. Indeed this was filmed in the same year as the Body Beneath and, whilst it is primarily about a corrupt priest, Guru (Neil Flanagan), it also features a vampire called Olga (Jaqueline Webb).

We are at the Lost Souls Church of Mortovia – a central European area that is used as Europe’s prison. There is a church, a dungeon and the priest is there to offer absolution to (and brand) sinners before execution or mutilation. Remember that, as it leads to one of the wtf questions about the film. A girl, Nadja (Judith Israel), is dragged in. The chief warder, Carl (Paul Lieber), is clearly too compassionate to work there in the first instance and then, even worse, he realises he knows her.

Nadja and CarlCarl and Nadja were in love and then one day she just vanished. It turns out that she was attacked by a band of gypsy thieves and then taken with them and used by the leader. She became pregnant and she gave birth by a roadside but complications led to it being stillborn. A woman accused her of killing the baby, she was arrested, found guilty and has been sent to die. Carl goes to Guru for help.

Carl asks Guru for helpGuru agrees to help him on the condition that Carl aids Guru. The price for his help will be to body snatch the corpses of the executed to make money for the church. In return Guru will administer a drug to Nadja that will make it look like she has died, they can then sneak her body off, revive her and she and Carl can be together. He needs to get the drug from Olga.

Olga reluctantly gives him the drug but on a condition also. He should leave the bodies of the executed for a while so that she can drain blood off them for her ‘experiments’… of course read into this that she will drink their blood as she is a vampire. Despite Carl’s histrionics they succeed in the plan and Guru insists that Nadja must stay hidden in the church for three months whilst Carl repays his debt.

Olga with Christine, a waif and strayThat would be okay if it wasn’t for her suspicions being aroused as she observes people entering the church but not leaving it. Yes Guru and Olga hunt down the waifs and strays who arrive at the church… such as the busty young lady who ran away from home… remember the wtf moment I mentioned? Why would anyone just happen along to a prison island, as this is meant to be? Which young lady would run away from home to there? Oh well, we haven't even got around to mentioning the fact that Guru is a priest and not a monk, so what is another wtf moment in a Milligan film?

Good Guru argues with bad GuruThrow into this the fact that church have decided to replace Guru and the fact that he seems to have multiple personality disorder – having at least a good Guru and bad Guru personality that argue with each other. There is the obligatory Andy Milligan hunchback – Igor (Jack Spencer) – who falls for Nadja and tries to protect her.

look into my pendantAs for Olga, she has plastic fangs that we only occasionally see. A stabbing is enough to kill her. She does drink blood and she hypnotises people with her pendant. All in all she isn’t the most lore inspiring vampire but vampire she is. As often happens with a Milligan film, some of the costumes look like they’ve been made from a pair of curtains (and probably were) – and Guru’s formal vestments are no exception.

nailing up a hunchback, Guru styleLike the other Andy Milligan films we have seen there is an earnestness here that stands the film in better stead than it should. This is the worst of the Milligan films we have looked at so far but, despite even its own DVD blurb saying that Milligan’s “movies made Edward D Wood films look like epics”, there is still that something that makes me able to watch Milligan’s stuff with a smile on my face. Of course, it doesn’t change the film’s rubbishy nature, 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Jenn said...

I think GURU is a blast, although Milligan thought it was his worst film and disowned it. He's a great sleazy time, isn't he? I mean, the subtext doesn't run too deep here, but the costuming is pretty wonderful. And no one gets out unscathed.

Rock on...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Jenn - don't get me wrong re the score. As a movie I think it deserves the 2 out of 10 but as a viewer, you are right... it was a blast.

Milligan is an odd duck (understatement of the year), his films are awful but they are so damn watchable.

Cheers for stopping by and for the comment.

Christine said...

That does nor sound Brides of Dracula or anything, but still... I don´t know, worth of glimpsinng?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Christine, only if you know what you are getting in to... Milligan's films are rubbish, poor movies, but there is something indefatigable about them.