Guru, the Mad Monk (1970)

There's been a lot of interest in Andy Milligan lately; a three-part examination in Video Watchdog magazine, a biography for Pete's sake. It's rather surprising that this is only one of two of his movies currently available on DVD, the other being Something Weird's The Body Beneath.

The Father Guru of the title presides over "The Lost Souls Church of Moravia" in some indeterminate medival-esque sorta ren-festy type time thing (rendered even harder to determine by the female lead's extraordinarily 1970 hair style). Not only does Guru say mass to a dwindling population, he also runs the local prison where criminals are tortured and executed. Which is all explained in an intensely boring and inept exposition scene ten minutes before the movie ends.

Guru is involved in waylaying travellers and selling their bodies to a medical college. He is also insane, talking to himself in a mirror a scene in which he is upstaged by the modern light switch on the wall. He also has a hunchbacked assistant named Igor, and a vampire mistress who likes to wear oversized dime-store fangs. Lines are flubbed. It doesn't matter. For all of Milligan's reputation, there is little gore, though the box does provide you with a red tag reading "WARNING: Eyes Poked Out with Sticks".

And it is only 56 minutes long. For some of us, this is must-see TV.

RetroMedia has a disclaimer that they used the best elements available for this transfer, no, really! and I believe them. Guru is not the sort of film that inspired people to heights of preservation. There is heavy lining in the beginning and on at least one reel change, but there are also sections of the movie that look astoundingly good.

The theatrical trailer has turned red with age, but will allow you to immediately see everything that is wrong with the movie. (It also contains just about every moment of gore in the flick)

The only other feature is a video interview with Thomas Vozza, who did the still photographs for Milligan's last few pics, which were churned out for the video boom of the early 90s (Vozza has since gone on to forge quite a good resume for himself). He talks about the atmosphere of on the set and Milligan himself; the most surprising thing is the revelation that the days of Guru were considered the good old days.

Not as bad as I had expected, but it still ain't good. Which is good. I mean... Oh hell. You know what I mean.

Dr. Freex, 7/30/2002