Video Kart's double-feature DVD of Andy Milligan's BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS and THE RATS ARE COMING! THE WEREWOLVES ARE HERE! is essential to collector's of vintage grindhouse horrors. Here's the companion disc, and it represents a later era of the Milligan/Mishkin legacy, proving they never lost their knack for making awful movies--and for trash aficionados, that's not a totally bad thing--I guess.
First up on this set is GRAVEROBBERS (aka DEAD MATE) which was produced by William Mishkin's son Lew, and directed by Straw Weisman (who recently helmed one of John Ritter's last features, MAN OF THE YEAR). The plot has a young and pretty waitress named Nora (Elizabeth Mannino) being proposed to by a man she just met, John Henry Cox (David Gregory). Having nothing going for herself, she instantly excepts, drives back to his small town of Newbury and is married the next day at the funeral home he resides over as undertaker. He makes love to her in a cold bed, and demands that she stay still. As you would expect, the town is filled with weirdoes, and Nora soon regrets her choice, attempting to get the hell out.
Filled with amateurish scenes of necrophilia backed by lurid pop music, rubbery body parts, and other assorted hokum, GRAVEROBBERS looks to imitate superior films like DEAD AND BURIED and LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH but never succeeds. It starts off serious, but it's as if they didn't know how to end it, and the finale is packed with pure stupidity and ludicrous dialogue ("Stop, in the name of love!"). It doesn't help much that the male lead (Gregory) looks and acts incredibly like Chris Kattan from "Saturday Night Live." Not totally unwatchable, but not exactly fun. It might remind you of the kind of tripe you'd see on USA Network's "Up All Night" movie show back in the 80s.
The other film, MONSTROSITY, is one of the last by the late great Andy Milligan (who died in '91), and it's one of those that has to be seen to be believed. Gone are the period costumes and pseudo period settings, this was shot in Hollywood in 1987, and its Andy's tribute to the Frankenstein legend by way of a ridiculous farce(?). Seeming to be inspired by Troma's THE TOXIC AVENGER, MONSTROSITY has a trio of over-aged hoodlums raping and beating a young woman, and later finishing her off in the hospital in a very nasty death scene. Her vengeance-seeking boyfriend and two pals get a brainstorm to build their own "golem," using human and animal parts, in order to do their bidding. It takes months, but their creation (deemed "Frankie") eventually comes to life.
MONSTROSITY is better edited and at least more interestingly acted than most of Milligan's earlier efforts, but it's totally absurd. The monster (with a gorilla arm and Mr. Potato Head eye) wears a red Art Garfunkel fright wig, and is played by longtime Milligan cohort Hal Borske. The young creators get the initially nice creature to kill using Stallone and Schwarzenegger posters as conditioning, and he later finds love with a blonde junky after he saves her life. Things get ultra silly as a guardian angel sporting Speedo goggles and motorcycle hat shows up out of thing air (we need not mention the "Care Bears" alarm clock). Lots of guts and red stuff flowing here (courtesy of talented make-up artist Rodd Matsui). Enter at your own risk.
Packaged on two separate discs, GRAVEROBBERS and MONSTROSITY are presented full frame, and although they are certainly nothing to show off your home theater set-up with, they are perfectly acceptable. The no-budget films display some grain and often dull colors, but I don't think anyone purchasing these is expecting a pristine transfer. The audio on both is surprisingly clear.
Extras include newly created trailers for both titles, clips from the 1920 silent version of THE GOLEM tied in with a scene referenced in MONSTROSITY, and some Easter eggs. There is also a guide on how to find all the Easter eggs on this set, as well as on the BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS/RATS ARE COMING set. (George R. Reis)
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