Saturday, April 22, 2023

freakboy on film: WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING (1989)

First, thank you to my tweeps who voted in my recent Andy Milligan Twitter poll!  The winner was WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING, so here we go… 

Much like the infamous puppet porn, I won WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING as the sole bidder in an eBay auction.  I saw a reasonably priced copy, placed a bid for $1 more than the asking price and then went about my day.  I later received an email announcing my win, but I was still home, so tragically there was no public declaration of winning a weirdo. 

A green Blu-ray slipcover of WEIRDO THE BEGINNING shows a silhouette of young lovers surrounded by violence and death, with text that reads, this boy has been pushed beyond the limits of sanity…and he’s going to explode!
The slipcover perfectly captures the essence of this film.

I was rather nervous when I first popped in the disc.  At that point in time, I had experienced The Dungeon of Andy Milligan box set, which includes his available New York and England films, but I had not experienced any of Andy’s California excursions.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I quickly learned I had nothing to be nervous about.  WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING (aka THE WEIRDO) touched upon many tried & true Milligan plot devices.  Side characters & subplots that go nowhere.   Tyrannical mother or mother-figure.   Shocking family revelations.   Doomed lovers.   Death by pitchfork to the neck.   Tragically, there is no swirl camera, but no film is perfect. 

Donnie and Miss Martins in her kitchen.
Miss Martins has more clothes for Donnie to donate to the local church.

Donnie is a mentally challenged young man who enjoys spending time in the nearby woods searching for discarded treasures.  When he’s not bringing home old Frisbees and other junk, he is endlessly delivering his landlady’s used clothes to a local church and being tortured by three roving redneck bullies.  Miss Martins is a friend of Donnie’s mother and she agreed to let him live in her shed after his mother kicked him out.  She seems like a nice old woman.  On the other hand, the three bullies, Nails, Dean and Vic, are not nice. 

The three roving redneck bullies roving down the street.
The latest in roving redneck bully fashion.

This perpetual routine is disrupted by Jenny, a sweet, physically challenged young woman.  Donnie meets Jenny in the woods and their connection as outsiders forms a tenuous love between them.  This love seems unnatural to Reverend Cummings at the local church.  He and his wife believe Donnie and Jenny should not be together, mainly because of Donnie’s mental and emotional challenges. 

Rev. Cummings looking holier than thou.
Hey, Preacher!  Leave them kids alone!

Then to make matters worse, Donnie’s estranged mother, who lives on the outskirts of town, suddenly wants him to come for a visit.  Miss Martins insists he goes and he reluctantly agrees.  Once there, Donnie is humiliated with name-calling and a beating from his drunken mother.  As if that wasn’t enough, Donnie learns he is the product of an incestuous relationship between his mother and her brother.  Oh, and his mother is going to sell Donnie to a work-farm in Mississippi.
Donnie and his abusive mother in a physically peaceful moment.
A boy’s best friend is not always his mother.

Quite understandably, Donnie snaps and the killing commences!  Who does he kill?  How does he kill them, besides a pitchfork?  Will Miss Martins help Donnie or is she holding on to one final secret?  Will Jenny’s innate goodness save Donnie or does he have a plan for after the killings?  This blu-ray may be out of print, but I’ll never tell.  However, if you’re familiar with Milligan or my reviews of his films, you already know the answers. 

Donnie and Jenny in the woods.
Donnie & Jenny forever,

 Steve Burington as Donnie and Jessica Straus as Jenny give WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING a heart and soul despite, or maybe because of the complications in their burgeoning romance.  Naomi Sherwood brings a down home, practical vibe to Miss Martins.  Shawn Player (Nails), Patrick Thomas (Dean) and Dennis Robbins (Vic) are believable as redneck bullies.  Though I wonder if Trey Parker was inspired by this trio when he created the trapper bullies in CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL!  John Miranda, credited as John Rand, and Janet Roberts as the reverend Cummings and his wife are believably hypocritical as leaders of the local church.  Maladjusted Milligan fans, like me, will note Rev. Cummings is none other than Sweeney Todd in BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS Last, but certainly not least, Lynne Caryl gives an uncomfortably terrifying performance as Donnie’s abusive mother.  One can’t help but wonder if this is the closest Milligan came to capturing his mother’s hostile spirit on film.

The blu-ray cover of THE WEIRDO shows Donnie holding a severed head and screaming, while the bullies lurk in the background and two eyes watch in horror, with text that reads, A lost classic from the legendary grindhouse auteur.  Andy Milligan’s The Weirdo.  this boy has been pushed beyond the limits of sanity…and he’s going to explode!  Boy meets girl.  Boy kills everyone.  A love story only Andy Milligan could make. - Frank Henénlotter, director of BASKET CASE & BRAIN DAMAGE
This cover fails to capture the sweetness within the violence.

Speaking of Andy, despite the violence and hate emanating from the story, this second of his California films continues to show a softer side.  He seems to genuinely care about Donnie and Jenny.  Don’t get me wrong though.  His script and direction may not be as frenzied as his earlier work, but WEIRDO is unmistakably Andy Milligan.  It could almost be a sequel to SEEDS (aka Seeds of Sin) if that film had ended a bit differently. 

If I am not mistaken, and I may be, according to THE GHASTLY ONE by Jimmy McDonough, Milligan claimed he filmed a version of WEIRDO back in the 1970’s, but left the only print behind when moving.  Other sources say he had planned to film a version back then as part of a deal during his time in England, but it never was shot.  Either way, that WEIRDO would be a different kind of WEIRDO! 

In conclusion…
WEIRDO is my favorite of Milligan’s California excursions.  Donnie is complicated, relatable and sympathetic.  Yes, even when he’s being a bit of a creepy stalker and a killer.  So, if you have ever felt like an outsider, pour yourself some imaginary orange juice and embrace WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING! 

SIDE NOTE: According to the blu-ray commentary, Milligan was hoping to do a sequel, hence “The Beginning.”  From the description, the follow-up would’ve shared elements of MONSTROSITY, which may explain the mysterious ending of WEIRDO. 

Jenny looks amazed and full of expectations.
Jenny isn’t going to tell you the ending either.

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 

P.S.  Grab a pie and click the pic ⤵️ to devour my review of BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS! 🩸 

A scene from bloodthirsty butchers where Mrs. Lovett smiles knowingly at an excitable customer
She knows what you want!

My books & blogs…


  1. This does sound great fun, but will you add a spoiler version one day.?

    1. I may have to consider adding a spoiler one day since it is not the easiest or cheapest film to find.

  2. I've been trying to work up the courage to sample one of Andy's films, but this review may have finally given me the fortitude! It kills me that I don't know how this one turns out, given that I am unfamiliar with his oeuvre! So, where to start - NY, England or California?

    1. That's a good question, Brian!
      My gut says Guru the Mad Monk for NYC or The Body Beneath for England or Weirdo for California.

      There is also my first Milligan experience.. Fleshpot on 42nd Street,. Whichever you choose, have fun and let me know what you think!

  3. Fun review, John! This was definitely worth the wait. I believe you're dong humanity a service by keeping Milligan's legacy alive. Now I need to see if my local video store has a copy of Weirdo.

    P.S., I loved the caption about the preacher! :)

    1. Thank you, barry!
      I feel it's become my life's mission to celebrate Andy Milligan and other obscure films. I have a back catalog of titles I want to eventually blog about.

      PS, I am rather proud of that preacher caption, so thanks!
      And enjoy the Andy Milligan film you rented recently! 😃

  4. I don't know if I'm brave enough for this one, but your review is fun. :-)

    1. I recommend Andy Milligan to everyone, but I also recommend him to know one. Watch at your own risk! Lol