THE FLESH AND BLOOD SHOW
The Flesh and Blood Show was Pete Walkers second venture into genre material. For this reason, the film is not as sophisticated as some of his later ones nevertheless, Walker learned quickly, making his best film House of Whipcord only two years later. Here he contrives a clumsy whodunnit centred around the group of people rehearsing in a theatre. 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.
Walker has borrowed the killers motivation from the Alfred Cukor psycho-thriller A Double Life (1947) that of a former actor who identifies too closely with the title character in William Shakespeares Othello (c1603) and jealously murders his wife. The psychological motivation whereby we go from an actor who snaps at seeing his wife in another mans arms to essentially a slasher set-up where he is randomly killing a group of youths is exceedingly tenuous. That said, the actor in question barnstorms their way most entertainingly through the climactic revelation. The film also goes out with a nicely chill double twist after the unmasking. During the revelation, we also get another of Pete Walkers regular themes that of the conservative old school figure who morally disapproves of the modern youth generation and is determined to punish them for their permissiveness.
Pete Walker says that he was inspired by Agatha Christies play Ten Little Indians (1939), which also served as the inspiration for Mario Bavas Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971) around the same time and has also undergone several film adaptations see And Then There Were None (1974). The mad Shakespearean actor was used only the next year in the Vincent Price starring Grand Guignol Theater of Blood (1972), while Michele Soavi used much of the basic plot of The Flesh and Blood Show with his later giallo slasher film StageFright Aquarius (1987).
Walker has some interesting names in his cast line-up, although most are young people who never went on to do anything of significance. Jenny Hanley, who plays the actress who had a prior film role, was previously a Hammer starlet in Scars of Dracula (1971) and went onto a career mostly in British television. The most famous name to emerge from the film was Robin Askwith who a couple of years later would find fame after appearing the sex comedy Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974) and three follow-up films, as well as a number of other softcore British sex comedies of the era, as well as the campy Horror Hospital (1973).
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