Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber - Pete Walker on Blu-ray: FRIGHTMARE and THE FLESH & BLOOD SHOW ""

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kino Lorber - Pete Walker on Blu-ray: FRIGHTMARE and THE FLESH & BLOOD SHOW

FRIGHTMARE (1974; Pete Walker)
Back in my video store days in the early 2000s, I worked at a place that carried lots of niche titles. I remember being obsessed with Susan George for a time (because of STRAW DOGS and DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY) and coming across DIE SCREAMING MARIANNE. At the time, I'd never heard of Pete Walker, but Ms. George in a bikini on the cover of the disc certainly caught my eye. I made a point to go look that movie up and began to look into Walker's films because of it. HOUSE OF WHIPCORD was the big one people seemed to remember from his filmography. I've still yet to see that film.
I believe I've heard it said that FRIGHTMARE is kind of the British TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. That's a whole lot for a movie to live up to and I can't honestly say that is does, though the film has some cool moments (and carries the cannibalism story like TCM). Pete Walker's films were apparently condemned a bit at the time of their release. Unlike the UK's Hammer Horror films, Walker 's filmography has never had much of  a critical re-appraisal. I'm guessing that because his films were mainly focused on sexploitation and horror elements, they (and he himself) may have been marginalized. 
Actress Kim Butcher stands out at the beginning as a lovely gal who reminded me a bit of Nastassja Kinski. Very striking girl and apparently she didn't make many films. The lead girl Deborah Fairfax is quite lovely too. One thing I'll say for Walker, he didn't skimp on the pretty ladies in this one.
The transfer looks pretty good. It's a tiny bit speckled here and there, but I believe that owes more to the film stock that was used than anything else. Good amount of grain present, especially during the night scenes.
-Included on this disc is a commentary track from director Walker himself and his DP Peter Jessup (who is relatively quiet throughout). I seem to recall a DVD of FRIGHTMARE that Image put out in the early 2000s that was part their 'Euro-Shock' series of releases. I could be wrong, but I think this commentary may have been originally on that release. It's a solid enough track, always nice to have the actual director of a film this old to give specific insights. It's a very freewheeling, mostly conversational and screen-specific commentary. Walker has lots of memories of pretty much all of the actors in the film, locations, the origin of the idea for the movie (born of contrivance initially), the lack of nudity in it and so forth (a conscious choice for Walker at this point).
-Also included is "For the Sake of Cannibalism" a new 12 minute Kino Lorber interview with Pete Walker. Here, Walker talks about the germination of the idea for the film (started with the idea of cannibalism) and how much fun he had making the film.
 In addition, "Shelia Keith: A Nice Old Lady" a neat 14-minute profile piece on the late actress which features interviews with her former collaborators (including Pete Walker). Keith had apparently played sweet old ladies for the most part prior to her roles in Walkers films (HOUSE OF EHIPCORD, FRIGHTMARE ).

THE FLESH AND BLOOD SHOW (1972; Pete Walker)
This movie is Pete Walker's tribute to the old theatre of the Grand Guignol and, as a result is of course quite a bloody watch. The story (a producer anonymously invites a group of unemployed actors and actresses to rehearse a new play in an old, abandoned (& cursed) theatre) would seem to have some similarities to both slasher staples FRIDAY THE 13TH and APRIL FOOL'S DAY. I had no idea till I watched this that it could have been a possible predecessor. I had only ever heard that Mario Bava's 1971 film TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVER (aka BAY OF BLOOD) was a primary influence on FRIDAY THE 13TH. One notable thing about this movie is its 3D sequence. This was Walker's second 3D effort (after THE FOUR DIMENSIONS OF GRETA, a successful sex comedy) and he chose to only make a small portion of it 3D as opposed to the entire film.
-Like FRIGHTMARE, this disc includes another new interview (12 mins) with director Walker. In this interview  Walker talks about his early history in show business and his short-lived time as a standup comic. He called it quits on this idea at 19 and began to go into low-budget filmmaking. He talks about trying to push the boundaries if the censorship at the time with blood and nudity. Apparently he used to call his movies "Terror" films as to separate them from Hammer Horror. He also discusses his experience with 3D (he had made one 3D film before this one) and the decision to only have a small portion of this movie in that format. 
-For 3D fans, the 10-minute 3D sequence from the film is also included here on its own in both stereoscopic and anaglyph 3D.

Both Films are available via

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