Archive for UK horror

The Confessional (1976) Review

Posted in Confessional with tags , , , on July 19, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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THE CONFESSIONAL

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Tortured by Desires His Vows Forbid, Master of a House of Mortal Sin

Release Date- February 1976

Running Time- 103-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- David McGillivray & Pete Walker

Director- Pete Walker

Starring- Anthony Sharp, Susan Penhaligon, Stephanie Beacham, Norman Eshley and Sheila Keith

Released in 1976 The Confessional, which also goes under such titles as House of Mortal Sin, The Confessional Murders & The Confessional: House of Mortal Sin is a solid film, but like some of Pete Walker’s films the execution could be slightly off at times. The Confessional is much more of a thriller, but the graphic murders are what links it to the horror genre. The 70s are my favorite for cinema and the horror genre was at its very best with some truly frightening films and a lot of these films were as much drama as they were horror and this is very much the case with a good portion of Pete Walker’s films. 1976 was quite the year for religion themed horror as besides The Confessional we also had The Omen and Alice, Sweet Alice. The Confessional was a solid film, but doesn’t hit the highs of Pete Walker’s House of Whipcord and Frightmare both released in 1974, but in the end its a solid enough effort despite the somewhat sluggish pacing.

After Jenny Welch (Susan Penhaligon) attends confession Father Xavier Meldrum (Sharp) becomes obsessed with her and resorts to blackmail and murder.

The screenplay by David McGillivray based off a story by Pete Walker is well plotted and well written with some solid characters. While the script isn’t perfect and can be a little too wordy at times it does make for a tense drama/thriller. The script also has some homages to Psycho, which was a nice tough even if a little cliched even for the time. I think the problem is at times the script does lose direction and some scenes feel as if they’re fillers; overall the script does have some flaws, but it still works well for the most part and is generally well written.

Director Pete Walker delivers some nice suspense, but like some of Walker’s other productions the ideas are there, but at times certain things can lack. The pace was strong early on, but as the film goes on pacing can be a bit of an issue at times and while I was never bored the film might have been better served with some editing. The one thing I love about Pete Walker’s films are the death scenes; once again Walker stages some terrific murders and quite honestly outside of Dario Argento, Walker’s films feature some of my favorite murders. Overall the direction is strong as is the film, but only brought down by some sluggish pacing at times. Films like Schizo and the Comeback while nice efforts were brought down by the pacing, but here despite the problem with pacing, the Confessional still turns out well. Don’t expect anything on the level of House of Whipcord or Frightmare, but in the end it’s a good film, but could again have used some editing in the middle.

Sheila Keith is a bit underused here and while she’s creepy it seems she was cast for the sake of it as she never really gets to show off her talents like she did in past Pete Walker films House of Whipcord and Frightmare. With that said though Sheila Keith is great despite being underused and towards the end she gets a little more to do, but when you have an actress of her caliber you must take advantage of that. Also look for Kim Butcher of Frightmare in a small role in the opening act.

Over the Confessional was a solid entry in the career of Pete Walker and again the middle sections can lack at times, but when all is said and done this was a solid enough film that should please fans of Pete Walker. What it may lack in pacing, it makes up for in atmosphere and death scenes. Like I said just don’t expect House of Whipcord or Frightmare and take the film for what it is.

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Schizo (1976) Review

Posted in Schizo with tags , , , on February 9, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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SCHIZO

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Schizophrenia. When the Left Hand Doesn’t Know Who the Right Hand Is Killing

Release Date- November 11th, 1976

Running Time- 109-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- David McGillivray

Director- Peter Walker

Starring- Lynne Frederick, John Leyton, Stephanie Beacham, Jack Watson, John Fraser

Released in 1976 Schizo, which also goes under the title Amok is an early example of the still developing slasher film, while I wouldn’t really label this a slasher flick for the most part, it does feature many elements we would later see in slashers and had this been made a few years later it probably would have turned out a lot different.

Samantha (Frederick) and Alan (Leyton) are set to be married and when William Haskins (Watson) finds out he grabs a knife and gets on a train to where Samantha is. Not long after arriving he begins to follow Samantha and soon the bodies begin to pile up. Samantha tries to tell people about possible danger, but no one seems to take her concerns seriously.

The screenplay by David McGillivray has the right ideas, but it just takes a little too long before it gets into more detail; the characters are mostly faceless and barley developed and in general not the most interesting bunch. While not poorly written it just seems as if there was more that could have been done with the plot. The twist ending I sort of figured out from the beginning and I can’t say why since I don’t wanna spoil anything, but it was a pretty good twist and the ending strays from the typical ending we get in these films. We’ve seen movies like this before and done better, but its just the first half of the script that kinda sinks this.

Director Pete Walker delivers a sluggishly paced movie and from the start, Walker never really sets any kind of tone for the movie. The stalk scenes fall flat since it takes too long to establish the history between the the characters and while this may be more on the writing than direction, but regardless Walker doesn’t really get much out of the stalk scenes at least in the first half of the film. The pacing is always an issue, but does pick up a bit in the 2nd half and Walker also delivers some excellently staged murders with some nice suspense, but its just a whole the pacing is a little too sluggish and outside of the death scenes the suspense falls a bit flat. The death scenes as stated are well staged and quite violent and this does slightly make up for the sluggish pacing.

Overall Schizo isn’t by any means a bad movie and don’t let my rating fool you. The 2nd half of the film is actually pretty good, but the film gets off to such a sluggish start I did kind of zone out at times. Upon another viewing I could easily change my rating to a 3 or even higher since I think this might be a film that grows on me. The death scenes are actually very well done with some brutality and suspense, but again its just the other areas where the suspense kind of falls flat. Schizo is a decent watch, but could have been a lot more.

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Fright (1971)

Posted in Fright with tags , , , , on September 4, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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FRIGHT

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- The Scream You Hear Is Your Own

Release Date- November, 1971

Running Time- 87-Minutes

Rating- PG

Screenplay- Tudor Gates

Director- Peter Collinson

Starring- Susan George, Honor Blackman, Ian Bannen, John Gregson, George Cole

Fright was originally released in 1971 and John Carpenter’s Halloween is often compared to Fright as they both deal with an escaped mental patient stalking a babysitter and even has the mental patients doctor getting involved. However despite what many reviews may lead you to believe despite a couple of things in common both these films are also very different, but the movie I thought of during Fright was When a Stranger Calls and I think that would be a better comparison. Perhaps John Carpenter got some inspiration for Halloween from this movie, but again despite a couple of things in common these movies are both very different in the way they go about things.

While not a slasher film, Fright does have many of the elements we would later see in slasher flicks and I’m sure inspired many slasher flicks through the years and had this movie came out a few years later it probably would have played up to the slasher conventions a lot more. Amanda (George) shows up to babysit while the parents go out for the night, but soon somebody shows up at the house and begins to stalk Amanda and can this person be connected to the family Amanda is babysitting for?

The screenplay by Tudor Gates is well written and well-plotted and just might be the first babysitter in peril movie; while the backstory did sort of lack it however still works and the characters while not fully developed are strong enough to carry the movie. The identity of the killer is revealed a little too early on well I guess revealed is the right word since it’s not a whodunit or anything, but the killer is brought in way too early rather than the final act like say Friday the 13th, but seeing this movie isn’t about a killer murdering people right and left I suppose it would grow tiresome of having someone lurking in the shadows for the majority of the running time. Fright is the type of movie that doesn’t need a great screenplay, but a decent one and Gates delivers a good script nothing less and nothing more, but when all is said and done it does serve its purpose.

Director Peter Collinson does a very good job right from the opening by setting an eerie tone and many of these scenes are before the villain even shows up. By simple shots, Collinson is able to create some excellent suspense and tension and really sets an eerie tone. Visually this isn’t Dario Argento, but its simplicity at its finest. The first half of the movie is by far the strongest in terms of pacing and suspense and when the killer does show up (not before some false scares with someone else lurking around) it only makes the suspense and tension even stronger. However the 2nd half is when things start to get a little messy once the killer is brought into the movie and while the suspense and tension do sort of lack Peter Collinson still delivers a solid movie that just runs out of a little steam no fault to Peter Collinson or the writer Tudor Graves. Don’t go into Fright expecting a slasher flick, but a movie that features elements that would later be seen in slashers and while Fright isn’t action packed overall I thought Peter Collinson did an excellent job as the first half again is highly suspenseful and eerie and even if the 2nd half slightly lacks in these areas it’s still pretty good and gets the job done.

What helps keep Fright working well throughout is it does feature a strong cast and the actors are all very good, but it’s Susan George as the terrorized babysitter that really elevates this movie. While I haven’t seen a lot of her work I have seen enough to become a fan and she does a great job at carrying the movie and it doesn’t hurt that she was stunningly beautiful in this movie. Again the entire cast is all very good in their roles, but Susan George is the clear standout and was excellent.

Overall Fright was a solid if not a semi-disappointing movie that gets off to a really eerie start and while the 2nd half may not work as well Fright is still an excellent movie that deserves more attention than it gets.

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