‘An appalling amalgam of carnage and carnality…’
The Flesh and Blood Show is a 1972 British horror film produced and directed by Pete Walker (House of the Long Shadows; Frightmare; House of Whipcord; et al) from a screenplay written by Alfred Shaughnessy. The movie stars Ray Brooks, Jenny Hanley, Luan Peters and Patrick Barr.
The soundtrack score was composed by Cyril Ornadel (Die Screaming Marianne).
The film’s ending was shot in 3D. In the US, it was also released as Asylum of the Insane.
A group of young actors rehearsing a new improvised play in a derelict theatre at the end of a seaside pier are murdered one by one by a hooded killer…
There’s very little blood and a good deal of flesh. The Flesh and Blood Show was Walker’s first horror film. Before moving into the horror genre, Walker specialized in making titillating titles and it’s kind of obvious that, when he directed this film, he was still more comfortable asking people to undress than asking them to play dead.
As opposed to other slasher films, the majority of the young cast survives and the almost all of the murders occur off-screen. Every couple of minutes or so, someone else is getting undressed. The constant nudity actually starts to get pretty funny after a while. One could very easily use The Flesh and Blood Show to construct a drinking game.
As for the film’s plot, it deals with a group of actors who receive invitations to an abandoned theater. An unseen producer apparently wants them all to perform an infamous play, perhaps the same play that is rumored to have led to tragedy back in 1945.
If it seems rather odd that the film’s characters would willingly go to an abandoned theater in the middle of nowhere and perform a possibly cursed play, no one is ever going to accuse anyone in this film of being smart. Why ask why when there’s so much dancing and undressing to do?
There’s also an elderly major (Patrick Barr) hanging out around the theater. He was actually one of my favorite characters in the movie because he approached everything with this very British, very stiff upper lip attitude. Of course, the major himself has a secret. That said, the secret isn’t that surprising. It’s obvious as soon as he showed up.
Naturally, all the murders at the theater are linked back to a tragedy in the past. The final fifteen minutes of the movie are made up of an extensive flashback to that tragedy and I will say this: it’s the best part of the film. The flashback was originally filmed in 3-D and Walker uses this as an excuse to indulge in some surreal flourishes.
There are a few positive things to be said about The Flesh and Blood Show. Pete Walker was a talented director and that talent comes through in even his weaker films. There are a few scenes where Walker manages to maintain a properly ominous atmosphere and the movie’s score is so melodramatic and over the top that it’s kind of hard not to love it.
However, for the most part, The Flesh and Blood Show is a rather forgettable film. If you want to see a good Pete Walker film, track down Frightmare.
Lisa Marie Bowman, MOVIES and MANIA
[A slightly different version of this review originally appeared on HorrorCritic.com]
“This film has a varied reputation but I enjoyed it … Is it Walker’s best? I wouldn’t say that, but it may be his most watchable, depending on what you’re looking for. Best to watch it on a rainy day double bill with Die Screaming Marianne. Knock back a bottle of the red stuff and enjoy.” Sinful Celluloid
“On a directorial level, the film has a competence but Walker fails to generate much in the way of tension. Certainly, on the flesh angle, Walker gets his female cast frequently undressed but the blood angle is relatively tame – the number of murders we see is few and Walker has not yet developed the sadism that would permeate his later films.” Moria
” … it deserves it’s place in the grand pantheon of half decent Brit horrors. We’ll leave the last word to Askwith’s character, who, in his longest bit of dialogue in the entire film, says at the end: “If it wasn’t so bloody tragic and horrible, it could almost make a movie script.’ Well, quite. Almost.” British Horror Films
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com
- Flesh, Blood, and Censorship: an interview with Pete Walker, by Elijah Drenner
- 3-D sequence (10 min.) in the stereoscopic format (requires 3-D television system)
- 3-D sequence in the anaglyph format (requires red/blue 3-D glasses, not included)
- Original theatrical trailer
Major Bell [Patrick Barr]: “Always been fond of the theatre myself. Nothing like a good play.”
Major Bell [Patrick Barr]: “They are all the same, young actors. Filthy and degraded lechers. All of them! And the females. Flaunting their bodies, offering their thighs and breasts. Scum. Excrement!”
Cast and characters:
Ray Brooks … Mike – House of Whipcord
Jenny Hanley … Julia Dawson – Scars of Dracula
Luan Peters … Carol Edwards – The Devil’s Men
Patrick Barr … Major Bell / Sir Arnold Gates – House of Whipcord
Robin Askwith … Simon – Queen Kong; Horror Hospital; Tower of Evil
Candace Glendenning … Sarah – Satan’s Slave; Tower of Evil
Tristan Rogers … Tony Weller
Judy Matheson … Jane
David Howey … John
Elizabeth Bradley … Mrs Saunders
Jess Conrad … Young Actor
Rodney Diak … Warner
Penny Meredith … Angela
Sally Lahee … Iris Vokins
Raymond Young … Insp. Walsh
Alan Curtis … Jack Phipps
Brian Tully … Willesden
Jane Cardew … Lady Pamela
Tom Mennard … Fred
Stewart Bevan … Harry Mulligan
Michael Knowles … Curran
Pavilion Theatre, Cromer, Norfolk, England
Full film free to watch online: