Most home video releases are mass produced and marketed by faceless conglomerates interested only in separating you from your hard-earned cash. If you look closely though you’ll find smaller labels who love movies as much as you do and show it by delivering quality Blu-rays and DVDs of beloved films and cult classics, often loaded with special features, new transfers, and more. But yes, they still want your cash, too.
Redemption Films‘ forte is the resurrection of old school horror films with new HD restorations, a small smattering of new extra features, and Blu-ray debuts. They tend to stick with certain directors including Mario Bava, Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, and others.
They’re latest releases are a pair of early genre pics from director Pete Walker, a man known for pushing the envelope and enraging British censors on multiple occasions. Both of his releases here are loaded with the red stuff, but only the former is also bursting at (and through) the seams with naked lady flesh.
Keep reading for our look at Redemption Films’ new Blu-rays of The Flesh and Blood Show and Frightmare.
The Flesh and Blood Show (1972)
A gaggle of actors are hired to rehearse a play in an abandoned theater at the end of an untrafficked pier outside a desolate coastal town. The group keeps busy with acting, complaining, and naked frolicking, but their artistic weekend is interrupted by a killer who begins knocking them off one by one. Is the killer the guy who’s acting super strange even for an actor type? Is it the old man who keeps swinging by to watch naked ladies and rehearsals? Is it the detective who seems entirely disinterested in investigating the murders?
Pete Walker’s first horror film makes it very clear his experience was in the world of soft-core comedy. It opens with fully nude woman answering her door late at night, and the naked romps only get more naked. The kills are quite bloody and aren’t played for laughs, but goofy musical cues and light notes occasionally make things feel more comedic than probably intended.
The script goes out of its way to offer up red herrings, and when the final reveal occurs it’s accompanied by a ten minute flashback (the 3D scene) showing the origin of our killer. The story is pretty straightforward, and none of the characters are even the least bit compelling, but the raunch and gore make for a fun watch.
Redemption’s Blu-ray features a remastered picture and the 3D sequence in both stereoscopic and anagraph formats. Unfortunately they chose not to include even a single pair of red/blue glasses for those using the latter style. Other special features include the following.
- Flesh, Blood, and Censorship [12:13] – An interview with Pete Walker concerning his early career in stand-up comedy, sex flicks, and eventual move into “terror” films. He wanted to avoid comparisons to Hammer horror and instead aimed to push boundaries on the violence and plot fronts. Sex on the other hand… he feels in retrospect that there’s too much of it in this one.
- 3-D and 2-D versions of famed 10-minute sequence
Edmund and Dorothy have been away for little while, but now they’re back. They’re a nice old couple, keep mostly to themselves, and while he spends time in the city she has people over to have their tarot fortunes read. It’s usually around this point that she kills and eats them.
Walker’s penchant for the bright red stuff remains, but it’s amazing the difference two years makes in his need for naughty lady bits. Meaning he’s almost fully reformed and instead focused on telling a stronger story while still sticking our faces into the grue. There’s no mystery here as we know early on that Dorothy’s stay at an insane asylum hasn’t left her cured and that Edmund is still prone to enabling her peculiar dietary needs, but we’re given a stable of supporting players, including the couple’s grown daughter, who weave in and out of the story as either victims or folks trying to stop the slaughter.
There are some good sequences here, usually involving Sheila Keith who plays sweet old Dorothy, and they work to create a terror-filled atmosphere. There’s real menace in Keith’s eyes, and Walker matches it with intense scenes and camerawork. He’s also found a better story than the earlier film and fleshes out the main villains with a subplot involving their daughter.
Redemption’s Blu-ray includes a commentary track featuring Walker and DP Peter Jessop as well as the following special features.
- For the Sake of Cannibalism [11:56] – Pete Walker discusses how cannibalism isn’t very sexy, but he went ahead and made a movie about one anyway.
- Sheila Keith: A Nice Old Lady? [13:53] – The character actress is reflected upon, specifically her run of five films with Pete Walker.
Pete Walker will never be regarded as a master filmmaker, of horror films or otherwise, but his work has a sleazy charm and an eye for color that makes his work appealing to fans of old school British horror.