The Painter and the Thief
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Father Guru is the chaplain of a prison colony and he's a seriously bad dude. Along with his mistress Olga ... who is also a vampire ... and his deformed hunchback assistant Igor, he uses his position to murder people and extort money. Carl, who works tending to the prisoners, comes to Guru for help when his girlfriend happens to end up in the prison. They fake her execution, and then Guru blackmails them, forcing them to stick around the prison. When the Archbishop shows up to have Guru replaced and transferred to another church, all hell breaks lose. I love Andy Milligan. His films are not good. In fact, they are really really bad, but they are bad in a fairly wonderful way. They are like a community theater Grand Guignol production ... way too talky and with lots of stilted theatrics, but utterly sincere and kind of endearing. So many bad films are just ridiculously dull. Milligan is not.
Epicly bad to a level that must be admired.
A really, really low budget historical horror(ish) film with costumes that look like they're the very cheapest vaguely Medieval Halloween warehouse last minute on the way to a costume party purchases. The story is a basic, earnest, fannish attempt derived from Shakespeare and mid-20th century horror films. The performances are passable; the editing occasionally clunky; the constructed sets, cheap and flimsy. That Andy Milligan somehow got the use of big old stone church in New York City to shoot much of the movie in is a bit remarkable (and I'm rather curious about the story behind it). Neil Flanagan is quite enjoyable as the Mad Monk (who's really more mercenary than mad). The opening credits have a nice 40s feel to them. The score is quite competently professional.
The plot is so-so, but interesting. It doesn't develop enough, but it works. Short running time, which makes this film a breeze to sit through. The setting is good, the characters are lacking, but overall, the movie is watchable.
I know what you're thinking to yourself. Why on Earth would this guy give this piece a crap such a high rating? Well when it comes to the craptastic I try to be fair and base my rating based on the enjoyment of it, rather than the quality. I know going in that Guru, The Mad Monk is a pile of junk, but is it so bad that it's good? I wouldn't say good, but definitely mediocre. The trailer actually features all of the biggest moments outside of the lengthy dialogue, but those are some great turd moments. A lot of this movie is pretty boring, and it takes a journey down a different avenue at every single cut. You never have a handle on things and you're constantly engaged because you want to see what they'll do next. Don't get me wrong though. There's tons of drone-inducing dialogue all throughout the movie. Everything from backstories, conversations and just plain old craziness talking into a mirror, it's all pretty bad and not all that laugh-inducing. It's actually the absurdity of a bunch of New Yorkers putting on what appears to be a play but it's actually a movie. The costumes, locations, acting - it's all bad. There's even a constant medieval dirge playing constantly in the background of every scene that feels more like a metronome lulling you to sleep, but it winds up being charming and fun anyways. If you can manage to sit through it without falling asleep and you appreciate the craptastic, then Guru, The Mad Monk is for you.
As a trash connoisseur, it was a only matter of time before I experienced the oeuvre of Andy Milligan -- mysoginistic sadistic hack extraordinaire -- and "Guru" is a decent primer to his, err, distinctive style. While the film is sluggishly paced, ineptly photographed and written with the finesse of an eight-year-old, it's never boring for an instant. A would-be expose of Catholic hypocrisy, most of the running time consists of cringingly on-the-nose dialogue interspersed with mind-bogglingly inept gore effects. Imagine Ken Russell's "The Devils" on a ten dollar budget, with no continuity whatsoever, and you're getting close to the level of incompetence on display.
There are some unintentional moments of hilarity involving Guru's hunchbacked servant and his very poor prosthetic makeup, and at a breezy 55 minutes the film barely qualifies for feature length but does not overstay its welcome.
I have a pretty high tolerance for bad films, but I could not watch this in one sitting. I was literally pulling my hair by the middle of the film. I couldn't believe that someone filmed this. All I have to say is that it took some other kind of skill to make a movie like this.
Lacks even the entertainment value of other (notably the 16mm) Milligan films' camera work and cheapness.
Another incredibly inept "period piece" from Andy Milligan. This time he rather viciously attacks religious hypocrisy through the character of Guru, a "monk" (who actually seems to just be a priest) with multiple personalities. Not a bad place to start with Milligan-- you can commit to this one, it's over in about 55 minutes!