Although a rather poor mate for a royal as a somewhat chubby and soft Scot-Irish girl that was adopted (an elderly handmaiden warns her that “I won’t tell if you don’t” regarding her unfortunate ancestry), Heather is forced to wed mental invalid Albert after her adopted father is paid 30 pieces of gold by the Kingdom. Rather unfortunately, on top of having a hot yet mentally feeble fuckbuddy named Marvin (George Box), Heather already has a boy toy named William (Dan Lyra), so Duke Norman has him liquidated by two of his muscular cloaked goons, who first crucify him and then drive a pitchfork into the loverboy’s throat in a classically poorly directed Milligan-esque death scene. Although Heather initially finds the Duke to be a kind and hospitable fellow, she is soon startled to learn from his two half-sisters, Lady Jane and Lady Agatha, that she should, “always be wary of him…never trust him” and “always think the worst and you’ll survive.” Indeed, as he declares to his royal whore and virtual slave Rosemary (Patricia Garvey) after telling her that, “I could so easily love you but I won’t let myself. See, that’s where you and I differ, my dear. I have a very strong mind…a very strong will power and I can turn my love into hatred or the other way around. All my life I have never been able to love. I take that back, I do love one thing: power, power…,” Duke Norman is a deviant sex addict, or as he states himself, “I live for pleasure…only second to power, of course. And I’ll try anything. I’m not a homosexual…I’m not a heterosexual…I’m not asexual…I’m trisexual. Yes, that’s it…I’ll try anything once.” Among other things, the Duke forces his (un)beloved Rosemary to engage in a ménage à trios with him and his best friend/groveling servant ‘Ivan the Hunchback’ (Richard Mason) in what he describes as “one big happy family” and also has a dark and damp S&M-themed torture chamber where he derives sexual gratification from torturing and killing his enemies and even his servants.
Featuring various highly quotable Milligan aphorisms like, “Always think the worst and you will survive” and “I see beauty only in decadence, for only decadence is the mother of invention,” the film is a virtual celluloid treasure-trove for Milliganphiles and/or proud misanthropes. While I think Russ Meyer was a crypto-feminist pig who was spiritually cuckolded by big bosomed broads and Herschel Gordon Lewis (who once proudly stated, “I see filmmaking as a business, and I pity anyone who regards it as an art form”) and Doris Dishman were Semitic swindlers who used exploitation cinema as a means to make a quick easy buck and to further a Judaic anti-WASP agenda (after all, Hersch was the man that directed overtly hick-hating exploitation trash like Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) and The Gore Gore Girls (1972) and even made the dubious claim in the 2010 documentary Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore that he personally beat up some supposed antisemites), I consider Andy Milligan a real auteur and outsider artist as his patently perverse personality is just as much a part of his films as the glaringly amateurish special effects, gratingly bad acting, and shaky handheld cinematography and probably no other work is covered with the director's sticky auteur fingerprints than Torture Dungeon, which is the virtual Gone with the Wind (1939) of late-1960s/early-1970s American exploitation trash. Indeed, only Milligan would have directed a campy medieval melodrama about a murderously resentful “trisexual” bastard aristocrat who plots to murder his retarded brother and all his other half-siblings and then attempt to disguise the film as a sleazy sexploitation-horror hybrid. If you thought the Teutonic blueblood von Essenbeck family of Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969) aka La caduta degli dei were nasty, debauched, incestuous, and insanely treacherous, you have yet to experience the fucked family affair contained in Milligan's contagious gutter-grade celluloid Götterdämmerung.