Nov 3, 2014

Weirdo: The Beginning

In this day in age where every child born seems to be diagnosed with some sort of debilitating mental illness, autism, and/or a peanut allergy, it only seems natural that there should be more horror flicks featuring killers and/or antiheros suffering from autism, Asperger syndrome (AS), and related forms of social retardation that seem to be dubiously increasingly plaguing American youth with each new generation. On top of seeming to suffer from schizophrenia, perennial momma’s boy Norman Bates of Psycho (1960) also seemed to be some sort of aspie, hence his unnerving social awkwardness and unhealthily obsessive behavior. Much less known than cross-dressing hotel master Bates but similar in his ominous Oedipal hang-ups and proclivity towards playing a peeping tom is a human dildo by the name of Donnie Raymond of gay gutter auteur Andy Milligan’s penultimate celluloid abortion Weirdo: The Beginning (1989) aka The Weirdo aka Donnie. One of the director’s late era works after he finally decided to get out of the seedy slums of New York City during the late-1980s to move to to sunny Los Angeles where he was in an unhealthy relationship with his half-retarded white trash hustler boyfriend B. “Bobby” Wayne Keeton aka “The Human Toothpick” that ultimately resulted in both men succumbing to AIDS, Weirdo certainly lacks the true grit and sort of superlatively slimy pseudo-snuff aesthetic of his ‘classic’ celluloid crud, but it at least has one thing in common with the earlier films in that it is an updated 1980s-ized remake of the unfortunately unreleased Milligan flick The Weirdo, which the director apparently lost during the early 1970s (indeed, many of Milligan’s films from his most prolific period during the late-1960s through early-1970s have been lost forever). Co-produced by “kung fu movie expert” and producer Neva Friedenn who is best known to horror fans as the screenwriter of the somewhat underwhelming video nasty The Toolbox Murders (1978), Weirdo was marketed to be a monetary success and sets up for a sequence (hence, its original title Weirdo: The Beginning and dubious open ending), but the film was an abject failure and Milligan made sure to destroy the possibility of any sequels by burning his bridges with the producers and torturing the young male lead who would never star in a film again. Forced to work with a cast that was hired against his will instead of his regular anti-iconic superstars, Milligan reluctantly assembled a patently pathetic piece of ostensibly serious schlock about a deranged dude with no family who is constantly beat up by a gang of mullet-adorned 30-something-year-old rednecks and who lives in the shed of an elderly woman who incessantly bosses him around. A sort of rare reworking of Romeo and Juliet for the Adam Lanzas, Elliot Rodgers, and all the other violent autistic misfits of the world as directed by cinema history’s foremost misanthropic and shockingly untalented S&M-inclined semen demon, Weirdo is a rather rare dark romance for all those sexually repressed and dysfunctional social retards out there who might be prevented from committing some sort of tragic shooting if at least one deranged dame could at least give them a quick handjob.  Like the gutter-dwelling west coast cinematic homo hustler step-uncle of Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko (2001) due to its ultimately tragic depiction of an unconventionally dorky yet deranged dude of the absolutely autistic sort named Donnie who finds himself in the seemingly unlucky situation of finding a girl that he loves so much that he is willing to die (and kill) for her, this miserable mess of a micro-budget movie is gratingly bad yet shockingly perversely poignant proof of Milligan's singular talent for polishing stinky and slimy celluloid turds.

 Upon a superficial glance, 22-year-old perennial loner Donnie (Steve Burington in his first and not surprisingly last film role) seems like a benign retard who merely likes hanging out in the woods and collecting rocks, but underneath his veil of mentally and physically feeble defectiveness is something dark, violent, and dangerously foreboding. The unwanted bastard son of a worthless dipsomaniac mother who lives to drink and kicked her forsaken son of out of the family home long ago, dingbat Donnie is taken care of by an extroverted old eccentric named Miss Martins (Naomi Sherwood), who provides the young man with food and shelter in the form of a shed in her backyard. Unfortunately, Donnie is the constant target of degrading violence by a gang of mullet-sporting redneck untermenschen lead by a nefarious nimrod named ‘Nails’ (Shawn Player) who sports an absurdly tight-fitting denim vest featuring a large confederate flag on the back. At the beginning of the film, Nails and his braindead goons destroy Donnie’s rock collection and almost drown him in a shallow creek just for fun. One day way playing in his favorite wooded creek like a spastic toddler, Donnie meets a crippled and seemingly equally autistic yet warmhearted little lady named Jenny (played by Jessica Straus, who went on to become a relatively successful videogame voice actress for games like Joseph D. Kucan’s 1997 Philip K. Dick adaptation Blade Runner, Chris Mullender’s Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (2003), and various World of Warcraft games). Although Donnie naturally acts like a complete and utter moron around Jenny, she becomes completely smitten with him and his glaring mental ‘idiosyncrasies.’ As for Donnie, he likes Jenny so much that he ritualistically sniffs a scarf that she gives him and then proceeds to masturbate. While Donnie’s lonely loser life seems to be looking up after he meets Jenny, Nail and his gang, Miss Martins, prying priests, and his mother seek to destroy his little piece of happiness. 

 One day, while taking a box of worthless junk to a reverend at the request of his caretaker Miss Martins, Donnie is once again beaten by Nails and his mulleted minions. Luckily, after being beaten up and thrown around like a ragdoll, Donnie is helped up by his lady love Jenny who accompanies him to the house of worship run by charlatan asshole Reverend Cummings (John Rand, who appeared in pornographer Gregory Dark’s 1986 softcore skin flick In Search of... the Perfect '10' and Milligan’s sorry 1989 swansong Surgikill). Upon talking with Jenny in private, the Reverend puts his hand on her thigh and begins berating her boyfriend, stating, “Donnie will never be a normal friend.” When Jenny reveals that both of her parents died in a car wreck that also left her crippled and forced her to live with her bitchy aunt who she unlovingly describes as “my mother’s sister,” the perniciously patronizing Reverend states, “Oh, I’m sorry but God must have meant for it to be that way.” Of course, the pervert Rev is not the only one that will attempt to destroy Donnie and Jenny’s blooming love affair. When Donnie gives Jenny a kiss and proceeds to attempt to force himself on her, the young lady freaks out and knocks her loverboy on his ass. After Donnie declares, “I’m sorry, sorry, sorry” over and over again in a spastic fashion, Jenny states, “I wanna belong to you Donnie but not just yet” and proceeds to explain how she lost her virginity at the age of 14 after a boy that incessantly bullied her due to her crippled leg knocked her unconscious and raped her. Not long before getting the opportunity to pseudo-deflower the already deflowered Jenny, Donnie plays peeping tom and jerks off while hiding in a collapsed house and voyeuristically gazing at his enemy Nails nailing his slut girlfriend. After Nails finishes cumming and leaves, his girlfriend, who complains about her boy toy’s failure to sexually satisfy her, notices Donnie and attempts to seduce him. After letting Donnie touch her tits, Nails’ whore begins mocking the autistic boy and the two get in a pathetic fight. Luckily, after Donnie comes back to his shack and curls up in a fetus position after being beaten up by a big bosomed redneck broad, Jenny soon comes by and takes his virginity. Rather unfortunately, the same day Donnie loses his virginity, he is forced to confront the abusive alcoholic who once threw him away like trash and she has rather heinous plans for her misbegotten boy. 

 Upon being forced to meet with his estranged progenitor ‘Ma Raymond’ (Lynne Caryl), Donnie not only learns that he is the inbred spawn of a love affair between his mother and her abusive brother Eddie, but also that his mom/aunt is planning to sell him to a crazy poof pig named Mr. Cycil Price (Carroll Oden, who also appeared in Milligan’s final film Surgikill) where he will live in Mississippi in sod-based sexual servitude. Indeed, Ma Raymond is selling her sole son for a mere $1,500 whether Donnie likes it or not. Needless to say, being a rampantly heterosexual autistic man, Donnie refuses to listen to his mad mommy and attempts to escape, so Ma Raymond starts beating him with a whip. Of course, Donnie eventually overpowers her and begins whipping his mother with her own whip, but he does not stop there, as he also hacks off her head with a butcher knife. When Mr. Price arrives to pick up his new half-retarded sexual serf and discovers Ma Raymond has been murdered, Donnie kills the creepy cocksucker by stabbing him in the throat with a shovel. On his way home, Donnie stops by Reverend Cummings’ church to drop off some old clothes and is soon threatened by the pseudo-spiritual leader’s busybody’s wife (Janet Roberts) who threatens to destroy his love affair with Jenny, so he decides to treat the old soul-sucking bitch like the vampire she is by driving a giant white crucifix through her seemingly cold, black heart. Reverend Cummings is such a perverted degenerate that when he sees blood on Donnie’s clothes, he assumes that it is a result of him deflowering Jenny. When the Rev friendly realizes that Donnie has killed his wife, he locks the boy in a backroom, calls 911, and tells him that he will “burn in hell by the blood of Jesus by nightfall.” When the Reverend makes the mistake of belittling Donnie a little too much, he finds himself being strangled to death with a string of Christmas lights. 

 After getting back to his shack and embracing Jenny, Miss Martins walks in on them and calls the young girl a slut. After that, Miss Martins tells Donnie that she is his aunt/mother’s sister and tells him he must move out. When Miss Martins makes the mistake of calling Jenny a “no-good filthy little slut” one-too-many times, Donnie becomes enraged and attacks her, thus resulting in her accidental death when she is set on fire. After killing Miss Martins, Donnie confesses to Jenny about his crimes and she is surprisingly accepting, even declaring her undying love to him. Unfortunately, a couple hicks soon discover Miss Martins and a lynch mob comprised of rabid rednecks, including naughty Neanderthal Nails and his motley crew of mullet men, begin looking for Donnie so they can kill them. When the mob discovers Donnie and his girlfriend (who does a poor job running away since she is a cripple and all), Nails attempts to rape Jenny, but luckily her brave boy toy slits the attempted rapist’s throat and cuts off his hands. Of course, Donnie can only hold off the hysterically homicidal hicks for so long and soon meets his grizzly end when about a dozen or so raging rednecks, including women, beat him to death with sticks and boards. Needless to say, Jenny is heart broken when she discovers Donnie’s corpse. When Jenny notices a young mother threatening to kill her prepubescent son—a virtual future Donnie in the making—she rhetorically asks herself, “why can’t people be nice to one another?!” In a twist ending that sets up for a Weirdo sequel that was ultimately never made, Jenny brings a police officer to the location of her belated boyfriend’s brutalized body, only to discover that he is gone and only his clothes remain, this more than hinting that he managed to survive. 

A shockingly penetrating dime-store fable that was created by a true antihero who depicts the murder of mothers, religious leaders, and affluent slave-driving sodomites as a more or less righteous act of spiritual retribution as carried out by a truly sad victim of society who could not even carry on a true love affair without the threat of imprisonment and homelessness, Weirdo is not only notable for featuring a rather idiosyncratic moral compass as a work that is essentially a slasher flick from the perspective of the killer, but also for being probably the only Andy Milligan film where a heterosexual romance is portrayed in a positive and even touching way and the female lead is pure and sweet and not some conniving psychopathic cunt like in most of the director’s films. Indeed, in its oddly endearing depiction of a forbidden romance between two forsaken social and mental defectives, Milligan’s film is like the David and Lisa (1962) of 1980s horror/exploitation films, albeit thankfully minus the sentimentalizing sermonizing and P.C. pandering. In its decidedly deranged twist on Romero and Juliet featuring mommy issues and perverse murders as carried out by a spiritually castrated and seemingly autistic male lead who falls for an equally whacked out little woman, Milligan's Weirdo also superficially resembles the similarly titled French semi-surreal S&M-themed flick Weird Weirdo (1969) aka Le grand cérémonial directed by Pierre-Alain Jolivet (Bérénice, Black Mirror) and based on a play by Spanish auteur Fernando Arrabal (Viva la muerte, I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse). In its relatively subversive depiction of two forsaken young lovers who love hanging out at secluded spots like the woods and go as far as murdering their parents to maintain their rather risky romantic relationship, Milligan's film will also probably interest fans of the comparably harsh and rarely seen flick Wildwechsel (1973) aka Jail Bait directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (who, aside from also being a sadomasochistic sod that once married one of his actresses and celebrated his honeymoon by engaging in some late night hardcore homo action, also shared a similarly pessimistic Weltanschauung to Milligan and was at his most prolific as a filmmaker during the early 1970s). Directed by the son of an emotionally and physically (and some believe sexually due to the incessantly incestuous nature of his films) abusive crazed alcoholic bitch who made sure that her son would hate women for the rest of his life, Weirdo is quasi-esoteric autobiographical anti-Oedipal cinema at its most obsessively odious. Undoubtedly, Norman Bates seems looks like a whiny bourgeois bitch boy compared to Milligan's murderous, mommy-hating Donnie. Indeed, after watching the film, I have to admit that I am now dying to see the original 1970s version that Milligan lost, as it would have most certainly helped Weirdo to have been a tad more gritty, especially featuring the director’s various anti-superstars and debauched divas. 

Somewhat ironically, auteur Andy Milligan apparently treated the lead actor of Weirdo: The Beginning, Steve Burington, in a sadistic manner not unlike how the eponymous antihero of the film, who seems like a youthful alter-ego of the filmmaker, is treated by everyone he knows, or as Jimmy McDonough noted in his excellent and highly addictive biography The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Milligan (2001) regarding the torrid production and its tyrannical director: “The fact that the casting choices weren’t his own—likewise for a tacked-on ambiguous ending leaving room for a WEIRDO II—made Milligan’s blood boil. He was especially cruel on THE WEIRDO set, reducing at least one person to tears. “Andy hated the actors,” said Frank Echols. “The boy playing the lead? Andy screamed at him every day, to the point of no return.”” Indeed, if there ever was a perfect example of a horror auteur being the true monster of his own movies, it was Mr. Milligan, but as Weirdo readily demonstrates in its damning depiction of a boy spawned through incest, alcoholism, and various forms of traumatic abuse who was left to die in the streets and was treated as virtual human garbage by everyone he knew, he was created by other monsters who, behind the false facade of legal and spiritual authority, managed to get away with their cruel and violent behavior.  With Weirdo and virtually every other one of the filmmaker's fucked flicks, Milligan took his therapeutic revenge against these monsters as a sort of faggy Frankenstein monster of nasty no-budget filmmaking.  Considering the director's swansong, Surgikill, is an absolutely horrendous, Hebraic-humored horror-comedy that has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever (the director's friend/biographer McDonough stated of the film, “…this movie is utterly painful to sit through […] I’d rather not remember Andy as a gay, gutter-trash Benny Hill…”), I like to think of Weirdo as Milligan's last real film as a work that, not unlike his best movies like Nightbirds (1970) and Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1973), provides more than enough reasoning as to why the director was a proud misanthrope and sadist who got a kick out of cinematically pissing on people's dreams and raining on their parades.

-Ty E

1 comment:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

ALL FAGGOTS MUST DIE, Milligan had to good common decency to do just that in 1991, i just wish every other woofter in the world would follow suit ! ! !.