• Seeds/Vapors

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 24th, 2017.
    Director: Andy Milligan
    Cast: Maggie Rogers, Candy Hammond, Anthony Moscini, Gene Connolly, Neil Flanagan
    Year: 1968/1965
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    The Movie:

    Vinegar Syndrome, in conjunction with Distribpix, presents an Andy Milligan release for the ages!


    Claris Manning (Maggie Rogers) is the chain-smoking, booze swilling wheelchair-bound matriarch tended to be her eye-patch wearing servant Mortimer (Jesse Bigelow). Claris lords over her family, a horde that she lovingly refers to as "bad seeds." Who are the members of this motley crew? Carol (Candy Hammond, Milligan’s former wife!), a lovely young woman who spends her spare time diddling herself to beefcake photos and who quite clearly has an unhealthy interest in her brother Michael (Anthony Moscini credited as Robert Service). He’s no peach either, in fact he holds a deep-seated hatred for his wife, a crafty woman who conned him into putting a ring on her finger by faking a pregnancy. And then there’s Claris’ son Matthew (Neil Flanagan), a man of the cloth who is not above using his stature to prey on Buster (Gene Connolly), a military cadet who is clearly more than just a little unstable. Let’s not forget daughter Margaret (Lucy Silvay as Helena Velos). She can’t get enough of the tough love she derives from her relationship with her cruel and oversexed boy toy.

    This remarkably dysfunctional ‘family’ all get together for a family reunion one fine Christmas and, as you’d expect, there’s plenty of backstabbing, sexual kink and vitriolic arguments – but then, things get turned up a notch when, one by one, someone starts killing off the members of the Manning clan, leaving those that are lucky enough to survive to reveal the true identity of the killer!

    Seeds is seen here on home video for the first time in its original director’s cut, presumably as the late Andy Milligan would have intended, running just over eighty-one minutes this is a fairly twisted film. The dialogue is bitter, angry and almost acidic at times, with Maggie Rogers really giving her all as the bitchy old head of the family. The other performances are, likewise, quite theatrical. No shock given Milligan’s background in live theater. The vast majority of the movie is shot indoors and it makes decent enough use of its main setting, that being Claris’ home. The action does head outside for one notable scene involving Buster, and it’s quite surprising when it happens, but we don’t want to spoil anything here by going into too much detail.

    The plot moves at a good pace and there’s enough character development here to hold our attention. There’s also a fair bit of skin in the picture, Candy Hammond gets down to her birthday suit for a bathtub scene for one, which doesn’t hurt things. Still, as it is with a lot of Milligan’s earlier black and white picture, it’s clear that he was going for something more than just exploitation. Yes, it’s very theatrical and stagey in its style but this cut of Seeds manages to tell a decent, engaging story. The film was, like all his films, clearly made on a low budget but Milligan is at least savvy enough not to overextend his reach, getting a fair amount of atmosphere out of the locations and some interesting and engaging, if occasionally over the top, work out of his cast.

    Seeds Of Sin:

    A few years after Seeds failed to prove the box office hit that producers Allen and Rosily Bazzini were hoping for, they cut out the material that they deemed unnecessary and replaced it with some graphic softcore sex footage and reissued the film as Seeds Of Sin. Interestingly enough, a lot of stand ins were used for this added footage and as this alternate cut plays out, it’s obvious to anyone paying attention that often during the scenes of bumping and grinding that there are very different actors in the roles! In fact, in this version there’s an orgy scene at the beginning of the film that doesn’t seem to feature anyone from the original cut. Additional extensions are made to pretty much all the sex scenes, and Carol’s masturbation scene. The movie also features different credits and music.

    On top of that, Milligan’s original version was shot on different film stock than these inserts, so there’s some pretty obvious differences in the picture quality. Not so surprisingly, this seventy-eight minute long version makes a lot less sense than the original version of the film. Having them both on Blu-ray to compare is a treat for Milligan fans – these are substantially different movies, with the original version playing out like a dark, murderous soap opera with some horror movie overtones and the Seeds Of Sin cut as a fairly nonsensical softcore melodrama, concerned less with logic than titillation.


    Also included on the disc is Andy Milligan's debut film from 1965. This picture tells the tale of a young man named Thomas (Gerald Jacuzzo). He leads a fairly lonely existence and to combat this, one day he decides to visit a public bath house. Here Thomas makes the acquaintance of Mr. Jaffee (Robert Dahdah). They talk, and as the night plays out in this grubby little club littered with graffiti and completely devoid of anything even close to glamorous, we get to know the gay men who inhabit it a little bit. They’re all there for their own reasons and come from different backgrounds. When Jaffee, who is married to a woman, tells Thomas about the death of his son the dialogue heavy film approaches tenderness but takes some unexpected turns before the film is over.

    Adapted from a play by Hope Stansbury, a Caffe Cino regular (the venue where Milligan would put on many of his theatrical productions), Vapors is a stagey picture but quite fascinating in its own weird way. It’s a niche film to be sure, dealing quite blatantly with homosexuality, but as it essentially unfolds on the screen in real time it pulls you into its seedy story thanks to some compelling characters and genuinely good acting.

    The movie is also very atmospheric. Like Seeds, it was shot in black and white 16mm film stock, and in the context of the subculture that it explores, that gritty look works quite well. The bathhouse is the film’s sole location and it is, from Milligan’s point of view at least, a shadowy, otherworldly place. It’s almost as if Thomas has walked into a strange, gay, alternate reality here. As to the dramatics, they’re handled well. Milligan used a lot of his Caffe Cino friends as cast members in the film, and they handle themselves well enough, never breaking character and delivering fairly convincing work.


    Seeds is presented restored in 4k “from a mixture of 35mm & 16mm vault elements” framed in its original 1.33.1 aspect ratio on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. For the most part, the transfer here is very solid. The opening sequence is a bit jittery and there are spots where not all of the print damage could be removed but clarity is surprisingly strong and we get nice black levels. Shadow detail is solid and the film is free of any obvious compression artifacts, edge enhancement and noise reduction issues. The transfers for Seeds Of Sin and Vapors are likewise very strong. Again, some print damage is here but detail and texture are as good as you can realistically expect given the film’s origins and while the director’s cut of Seeds makes its home video debut with this release, Seeds Of Sin and Vapors have been released before – and they look much, much better here than they did on their DVD editions.

    Both versions of Seeds and Vapors all receive the DTS-HD Mono treatment. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. There’s a bit of sibilance and some occasional hiss here and there but nothing so serious as to take you out of the movie. The levels are well balanced and the scores used in each of the three films sounds quite good. These are basic tracks to be sure, not fancy at all, but it would seem that the audio on this release is a pretty accurate representation of how the films would have originally sounded.

    Extras start off with a twenty-nine minute long interview with John Borske who speaks about his work writing Seeds. The piece starts off with some discussion of his involvement in early Milligan movies before then going on to cover some of the locations that were used as well as his thoughts on Andy as a director and a person. He also goes into some detail about the New York City art and theater scene of the time, how he had fun making films and his thoughts on the film itself.

    Up next is an interview with Vapors’ leading man Gerald Jacuzzo that runs twenty-six minutes. Here he gives us background information on his career, talks about meeting Milligan and how he came to act in Vapors, differences that they had while working together, Milligan’s penchant for rehearsing and blocking scenes before filming them, and more.

    Vinegar Syndrome has also included a twenty-seven minute Q&A sessions shot at a 2017 screening of Seeds and Vapors at the Quad Cinema in New York City. This twenty-seven minute piece is hosted by Casey Scott and features both Borkse and Jacuzzo as well as actress Patrician Dillon who appeared not just in Seeds but also in Milligan’s later films Torture Dungeon and Gutter Trash. As this talk goes on, the three share a lot of fun memories of Milligan, talking up his strengths as a director and his camerawork as well as his quirks. They discus some of the stylistic and thematic differences between Vapors and Seeds, the different sides of Milligan’s personality, Jacuzzo’s partnership with Andy, his manic tendencies and the intricacies of writing a script to fit Milligan’s interests and personality type. They also cover the budgets for the production, William Mishkin as a producer on some of his later efforts, the Caffe Cino and it's off Broadway legacy and quite a bit more.

    Outside of that we get an original theatrical trailer for Seeds, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD included inside the clear keepcase that contains the same extra features as are found on the Blu-ray disc.

    The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release of Seeds/Seeds Of Sin/Vapors is impressive. Not only does it reconstruct the original director’s cut of Seeds but it also includes the alternate (and more widely seen) sexploitation variant and the director’s first picture, all in impressive high definition presentations. Add to that some fascinating extra features and this release shapes up very nicely indeed.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!