The Set (5/5)
In 2012, just as Redemption and Kino were getting their work underway together they unleashed the four film Pete Walker Collection. The films included in the set were the Walker masterpiece House of Whipcord alongside other Walker treats like The Comeback, Die Screaming Marianne, and Schizo. The film was an absolute delight for fans of the British auteur, as it collected a pair of Walker's better known works with a couple of Walker obscurities for a fairly nice package. Each title carried with it an interview with the director that went reasonably in-depth in regards to the particular film.
It would be a year before more Walker would hit the market from Kino/Redemption. This time not in a box, but four individual releases, these would be The Flesh and Blood Show, Frightmare, House of Mortal Sin, and Home Before Midnight (a few of which have been reviewed previously on EuroCultAV). I thought following those we would have seen the end of the Walker/Redemption relationship, apparently not.
For those who appreciated the box set format of the original release we are given The Pete Walker Collection Volume 2. I will be forthcoming that if you have the prior releases double-dipping on these might not be something you are interested in. This release, however, for the dedicated Walker-phile has been issued with not just the four prior releases, but a bonus disc that includes two earlier Walker features. The Big Switch and Man of Violence. This bonus disc also includes an interview with Walker in regards to those films.
Pete Walker was in my estimation the U.K.'s genre film king from the time he arrived on the scene in the late 60's, until he decided to depart for a career in real estate in the early 80's. The earliest film in the main portion of the set is The Flesh and Blood Show, a simple, moderately paced chiller that shows the developing Walker style. It involves a group of actors and crew preparing a play on the British coast only to find themselves killed one by one. The film has a 3-D sequence toward the end, that is included as a deleted scene on this Blu-ray.
This is followed by his 1974 film Frightmare. Frightmare, could be considered THEE Pete Walker masterpiece, at least in the horror genre. The film stars Sheila Keith and Rupert Davies as a married couple who were shipped off to a mental institute to deal with their murderous and cannibalistic tendencies. They, of course, are released prematurely. Their daughter Jackie tries to protect them by feeding them food items that resemble human body parts (like cow brains), but this isn't enough to keep Mother from killing random people who end up at their house to get their fortune told (Mom reads Tarot Cards). The plot might seem a bit slasher-esque, but while the film is violent it blends elements of the crime film, and has a bit of a satiric edge to it. The thing that strikes me most when watching this film, and most other films by Walker is the perspective that he brings to them. It always feels as though, the walls are closing in around the main characters in his film, creating an atmosphere of oppressiveness, and claustrophobia that is unlike any filmmaker of the time or since.
The third disc in the set is Walker's 1976 film, the Religious horror House of Mortal Sin (aka the Confessional). House of Mortal Sin follows the psychopathic killings of Father Meldrum, an old fashioned priest who doesn't forgive the sinners of his community, he kills them. House of Mortal Sin like the following film in the box set Home Before Midnight sees Walker trying to provoke his audience, in this case by attacking religion. That being said, it's not just a simple shock tactic with no substance. Walker's film is fairly innovative, and like his best films like Frightmare and House of Whipcord it has that oppressive atmosphere I mentioned earlier. This one maybe more so, as instead of the attack coming from a crazy old lady, it's coming from someone who is supposed to be a trusted member of the community.
The fourth disc was the surprise film in the set to me, Walker's Rock and Roll response to Lolita, Home Before Midnight. The film find's teenage Ginny falling in love with rock singer Mike. They begin an intimate relationship almost immediately, even though Mike is twice her age. Of course, Ginny did not reveal her true age, but even when Mike finds out he doesn't care. That is until Ginny's parents find out, and force a rape accusation, and drag his name through the press and into a trial.
The film starts almost as a more light slice of exploitation, making the viewer almost complacent in the same crime Mike would eventually be accused of, before information begins to come out to Mike, accusations arise, and the noose that Mike started to hang himself with early on begins to tighten around his neck. The film has a very slow-burn feel to it, that brings the viewer in, and then Walker begins doing what he does best.
The Pete Walker transfers are some of the best to come out of the Kino/Redemption relationship outside of last year Robbe-Grillet line. There are 6 films in the set, The Flesh and Blood Show, is 1:78:1, while the other 3 in the main portion are framed at 1:66:1, the two films on the bonus disc predate the ones reviewed in the main body and were framed at 1:33:1. Each of the transfers displays the same basic set of standards that Kino and Redemption have set out since the inception of the line. All of them have nice stable colors, solid blacks, nice grain structure, and accurate flesh tones. There is some damage that is present in the transfer from the source material.
The quality of the audio varies, but for the most part are completely audible throughout with score, and effects coming through nicely.
Each film and the bonus disc contains an interview with Pete Walker. The Flesh and Blood show includes the film's 3-D sequence as a deleted scene. Frightmare and house of Mortal Sin contain Pete Walker commentaries. The films The Big Switch and Man of Violence, not sold separately are included on the bonus disc.
I am an absolutely huge fan of the film's of Pete Walker, and while not every film in this set is a winner (I was not a fan of the Big Switch, and the Flesh and Blood Show has never been a favorite). I was surprised by the high quality of the ones I hadn't seen Man of Violence, House of Mortal Sin, and most surprisingly Home Before Midnight. The A/V on these releases looks quite nice, and the extras are quite solid. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.