The Flesh and Blood Show
U.K. | 1972
Directed by Pete Walker
Starring
Jenny Hanley
Ray Brooks
Patrick Barr
Color
| 93 Minutes | Not Rated
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Shriek Show
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Guest Review by Troy Howarth
A theatrical troupe is hired by a mysterious employer and sent to a dilapidated theater for rehearsals; while there, a maniac begins picking them off, one by one...
    After carving out a niche in the sexploitation market, independent British producer/director Pete Walker began to delve into the horror genre with 1970's quaintly psychedelic Die Screaming, Marianne. The emphasis there was more on Les Diaboliques-styled plot twists than on ghoulish shocks, but 1972's The Flesh and Blood Show provided a better glimpse of the kind of visceral horror that would soon become his stock in trade.
    The story takes its cue from Agatha Christie's venerable Ten Little Indians a group of strangers are invited to a remote locale, where they fall prey to an unseen assassin. While Walker's subsequent horror pictures tended to phase out the carnal aspect, his background in sexploitation is abundantly evident here softcore groping and plentiful nudity dominate the first half of the picture, and while there is plenty of mayhem, the gruesome excesses evident in Frightmare (1973) and House of Whipcord (1974) are kept in check. Fortunately, the actresses are of an attractive variety (Luan Peters, Jenny Hanley and Judy Matheson all filled appropriately tight bodices for Hammer earlier in their careers, but it would take Walker to convince them to show a bit more) and the acting is of a generally competent variety. Walker's direction isn't as assured as it would become in later films, but he manages some nice moody passages and keeps the action moving at a decent clip.
    Ultimately the film is perhaps most interesting as a precursor to the slasher films that would dominate the genre beginning in the late 1970s. Like Mario Bava's seminal Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971), it anticipates such later hits as Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) in its depiction of a group of horny teens being dispatched by a homicidal maniac. Unlike the Bava film, however, its emphasis on sex instead of violence makes it very much a film of its day, closer to the nudie films of Walker's earlier career than to the vicious and nihilistic tone of his later films. The gratuitous inclusion of a 3-D climax doesn't help matters it comes off as a silly gimmick at best, a tacky distraction at worst. Even so, taken on its own terms, The Flesh and Blood Show has enough going for it to warrant a look. Fans of Walker's other horror films are bound to find some entertainment value in it.

Shriek Show's release of The Flesh and Blood Show, as part of their Pete Walker Collection, marks the film's DVD debut. While the other Walker titles are ported over from the Anchor Bay UK Walker box set, this particular title is unique to the Shriek Show collection. The 1.85/16x9 transfer is acceptable, though the source material is a little rough. Color and detail are adequately rendered, but the print shows a lot of wear and tear scratches and nicks are often in evidence, though the film is present fully uncut, retaining some surprisingly frank male and female frontal nudity. The mono audio is clear, and despite some minor background hissing evident during quiet passages, it sounds about as good as one could reasonably expect from a low budget film of this era.
    Likely because SS had to put this release together from scratch, it doesn't have the benefit of a Walker commentary track. However, a featurette-length interview with Walker fills the gap well enough. In addition to the interview, extras include a theatrical trailer for the film and other titles in the Walker Collection, along with a still gallery.
11/25/06

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