Walker was a writer and director who arrived on the independent
horror movie scene opposite the established mould of Hammer
Productions, which at this time was on the decline. He began
with raunchy films before combining the two with Die Screaming
Marianne. He made 16 films in a similar format to those
of Norman J. Warren.
Die Screaming Marianne (1971), a beautiful young woman
(played by Susan George) flees Portugal and a man called The
Judge. She returns to England with a man and lives with him
until he presses her into marriage. Using a moment of confusion
at the registry office she instead marries his best man. The
manipulative man becomes angry and she leaves, only to be
sought out by the best man who she genuinely falls for. The
jilted man was sent by The Judge, who is actually Marriane's
father, to take her back to Portugal. The Judge's wife apparently
robbed him of half a million, and died suddenly shortly afterward.
Marianne has the number of the Swiss bank account where the
money (and evidence to send The Judge to prison) has been
deposited. But it seems her half-sister is the real danger.
Having no real suspense in the entire film, this example appears
to exist only to parade Susan George in figure-hugging dresses
and short skirts. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that
(she is very striking, after all), but then why bother with
a plot at all? It's a movie that you can turn off at any point
without worrying about missing anything except who Marianne
is going to jump into bed with next. Even the scene where
she is locked in the sauna constitutes mainly close-ups of
her towel-wrapped sweaty body... Sorry,
I drifted there for a moment. Now, where was I? A film with
a better reputation than it deserves.
In House of Whipcord (1974), a young woman who has
recently been cautioned in a light-hearted act of public nudity,
is approached at a party by a man that no one seems to know.
They strike-up a relationship which culminates in his taking
her on a weekend trip to meet his parents. However, the large
foreboding house in the country turns out to be an illicit
correctional facility for young women, run by a disgraced
elderly judge and his psychotic family, of which the young
man is a member. For no worse crime than disgracing herself
in public the young woman is stripped of her belongings, locked-up
and humiliated at every opportunity. But her problems really
begin when she instigates a breakout.
film is so bad it makes you want to write off Walker as a
hack and throw this set into the dustbin (and that would be
a shame because there's some good ones coming up). The opening
looks promising, with an hysterical young woman in rags being
picked-up by a passing lorry driver. The story is told as
a retrospective to this point, but then there's no progression
as the driver takes her straight back to the house thinking
it is a country hospital.
a monotone introduction to Frightmare (1974), a couple
is institutionalised in the fifties for unspecified murderous
acts. Jumping forward to the seventies we find a woman charged
with the welfare of her fifteen-year-old sister after their
parents were supposedly killed. The youngster is unbalanced
and violent, but her elder sister is the real mystery. She
sneaks out at night to a cottage where her parents are alive,
having been released by the psychiatric unit as cured. The
father appears well, but the mother is more than a little
off-kilter. She advertises herself to strangers as a tarot
reader, and the future is always death.
The gem amongst costume jewellery. This is an honest and brutal
film, with twists and an ending that will surprise most people.
Sheila Keith (present in all but the first film in this set)
is in fine form, but if you view these offerings close together
you'll be so used to seeing her as the resident psycho that
you won't be surprised by the intended revelations, although
that won't stop you enjoying her performance. There's a natural
creepiness about her that makes you want to hate her, and
that proves she's doing her job properly.
House of Mortal Sin (1975), Jenny (played by Susan
Penhaligan) meets an old friend who is now a priest. A later
visit to the church finds him absent so, feeling pretty depressed
after her live-in boyfriend has left her, she decides, against
character, to go to confessional. The older priest is more
than healthily interested in knowing everything about her.
When she learns that there is an audio tape of the confessional
she demands it back. Her boyfriend returns and immediately
goes to confront the old priest, but the man wreaks his own
fire and brimstone justice.
you guess from the outset that the older priest is mad, the
possible mystery of the piece is unnecessarily removed. Instead,
the screw is tightened so that he gets away with more and
more as the story progresses. I know a priest would be expected
to hold the moral high ground, but I find it unbelievable
that the police would not at least check him out, instead
having the hospital keep sedating the victim/witness. Not
a bad film, but unable to sustain an evolving plot.
The Comeback (1978), singer Nick Cooper (played by real
life crooner Jack Jones) rents a country house retreat to
work on his new album, the first in six years. The housekeepers
are Mr and Mrs B, a strange couple. At night he is woken by
pitiful cries and terrifying screams, and at one point opens
his bedroom door to be confronted with a corpse in a wheelchair.
Again and again, he is convinced by everyone around him that
he is imagining the events. He even spends a period sedated
in hospital. However, unbeknown to Nick, his ex-wife has been
brutally murdered at their old apartment, and it seems everyone
has a good reason to see her dead.
along with Frightmare, is probably the best of the
bunch on offer here. Jack Jones is convincing in the main
role, Sheila Keith is her normal wonderfully weird self, and
Bill Owen of Last of the Summer Wine fame has a minor
role as Mr B. It's also nice to see Pamela Stephenson (one
quarter of the Not The Nine O'Clock News comedy sketch
show, who later married the Big Yin) as the new love interest.
This film works well as a whodunit; all the characters come
across as equally suspicious. Walker could have gone one step
further by implying that Cooper himself could be responsible
for the killing, but that chance is wasted when we see her
being killed at the same time Cooper's plane is landing.
is the third coffin-shaped horror box set put out by Anchor
Bay, to my knowledge. Again, the packaging is attractive and
the booklet informative; however, there has been no attempt
to improve the visual condition of the films, all of which
contain scratches and jump periodically. House of Mortal
Sin is worst of all, some scenes containing a multitude
of scratches and green flares, which in this day and age is
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