The Flesh and Blood Show – UK, 1972

‘An appalling amalgam of carnage and carnality…’

The Flesh and Blood Show is a 1972 British horror film produced and directed by Pete Walker from a screenplay by Alfred Shaughnessy. It stars Ray Brooks, Jenny Hanley, Luan Peters and Patrick Barr.

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The film’s ending was shot in 3-D. In the US, it was also released as Asylum of the Insane.

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A group of young actors rehearsing a new play in a derelict theatre at the end of a seaside pier are murdered one by one…

Review:

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 sexploitation movies 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, HORRORPEDIA

[A slightly different version of this review originally appeared on HorrorCritic.com]

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Other reviews:

“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.” Richard Scheib, 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

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com

Special Features:

  • 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

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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 HospitalTower 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

Filming locations:

Pavilion Theatre, Cromer, Norfolk, England

Wikipedia | IMDb

Pete Walker on HORRORPEDIA: The Comeback | The Flesh and Blood Show | Frightmare | House of the Long Shadows | Schizo

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