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House of Whipcord

House of Whipcord – 1974
Many young girls have entered these gates–none have yet come out!
Pete Walker

David McGillivray
Pete Walker story

Pete Walker producer

Barbara Markham – Mrs. Wakehurst
Patrick Barr – Justice Bailey
Ray Brooks – Tony
Ann Michelle – Julia
Sheila Keith – Walker
Dorothy Gordon – Bates
Robert Tayman – Mark E. Desade
Ivor Salter – Jack
Karan David – Karen
Celia Quicke – Denise
Ron Smerczak – Ted
Tony Sympson – Henry
Judy Robinson – Claire
Jane Hayward – Estelle
Celia Imrie – Barbara
Barry Martin – Al
Rose Hill – Henry’s Wife
Dave Butler –
Penny Irving – Ann-Marie Di Verney

Review by Sven Soetemans

Pleasantly deranged sexploitation!,
The not exactly subtle director Pete Walker triumphs here with a very decent sexploitation gem about a well-hidden prison, serving to re-educate naughty young girls and ruled by an elderly couple. They (he’s a judge, she’s an ex-warden who resigned due to her share in a suspicious suicide case) found the British law-system to be ineffective and therefore order the handsome son Marc to bring pretty girls who committed small felonies back to the prison. Even though the blind and senile old judge doesn’t realize it, the girls are humiliated, tortured and eventually executed. The script centers on a French nude model (with an atrocious accent) named Marie from the moment she gets seduced by Marc to when she faces true misery.

Walker’s idea is great and the film is overall very well-scripted, with an eye for black humor and imaginative perverted undertones. Our daring director clearly aims for controversy and goes for the shocks (the opening sequence ironically states that this film is dedicated to all those who wish to see the return of capital punishment in Britain) but yet he doesn’t stuff his movie with gratuitous sleaze or explicit violence. No, he merely reaches this effect by suggestive disturbance (the vicious hanging scene!) and – especially – the grim and ominous characters.

Barbara Markham, otherwise a relatively unknown actress, is terrific as the sadistic and quite insane “head” of the prison and she receives excellent feedback from Sheila Keith as the charismatically cold warden Walker. Just as they would repeat it in the equally surprising successor “Frightmare”, scenarists Walker and David McGillivray portray the women as the depraved lunatics while the men are weak and unable to interfere.

Details that prove that Walker unquestionably was the most gifted independent British filmmaker of the early seventies and his twisted world perspective make him a favorite among cult-horror fanatics. Slightly negative aspects include that many, many scenes are underexposed and far too unclear to follow. Walker also could have made more out of the potential Gothic theme and bleak prison-surrounding. But now I’m just splitting heirs…

“House of Whipcord” is an essential euroshock film, often regretfully mistaken for depthless sleaze.

I highly recommend it to horror lovers that look for original and unusual stories.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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