FILMS… The Flesh and Blood Show (1972)

#1970s

 

It’s curtains for some bright young acting things…

 

A group of young actors and actresses are invited to do a play in a deserted theatre by the sea. Then the killings start in this seventies British slasher whodunnit.

 

The Flesh and Blood Show – Movie Trailer (1972), Terror Movie Trailers

 

The Flesh and Blood Show (1972) could be described on your first viewing as a wonderful whodunnit murder mystery homage in the style of the Agatha Christie inspired film, Ten Little Indians (1974). This Pete Walker directed British film is also found in both the horror and sexploitation genres. It also boasts a then innovative slasher plot with the big reveal of the killer shown in black and white and 3D. This film stars this blog’s favourite Hammer actress, the always lovely Judy Matheson (now Jarvis).

Judy and I have been in touch ever since she joined the Second Hammer and Amicus blogathon way back in 2019. She joined the fun with an exclusive interview HERE about her horror movie career and this interview was followed up by another HERE. Recently, I asked her if she had a particular film she wanted me to review for her. She stated she was happy with my choice and “delighted” to join this new (hopeful) blog post series.

This blog post series is an occasional one where I’ll ask actors and actresses for their choices from their filmography to be reviewed by yours truly. This all kicked off a couple of months ago after I reviewed a film for 1978’s Superman actress, Valerie Perrine. And you’ll find her choice Valerie, A Portrait of Valerie Perrine (2019), HERE.

After discussing possible review options, this horror film was chosen as Judy stars in a prominent role. Judy said of this movie;

Re the Flesh & Blood Show. Very low budget but fun, great cast + cult director, Pete Walker. Filmed in Cromer & Brighton. All quite straightforward – director knew exactly what he wanted & usually got it. Everyone in a good mood & lots of jokes. Well, it did have Robin Askwith in it. One of my favourite actors in it too – Ray Brooks.

As the film title suggests it’s not just horror of the bloody kind, along with many, many scenes of gratuitous nudity. These scenes are of practically all the actresses bar one, and just the one actor. The film has a treasure trove of future stars in the making.

The now-familiar names in this cast of then young starlets are headed by our Judy along with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) Bond Girl, Jenny Hanley… an actress who was last seen throwing a frisbee at a young Ian McShane in my The Ballad of Tam Lin (1972) review. Other actresses include Luan Peters a one time star of (Doctor Who (1963-) and Candace Glendenning (Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)).

Actors include Ray Brooks, most famous in this household as the voice behind those Mr Benn cartoons (1971-2005) and more recently EastEnders (1985-). Robin Askwith – remembered for his role in those 1970s Confessions sex comedy films… and also EastEnders (1985-), David Howey (Bergerac (1981)) and General Hospital‘s Tristan Rogers (also Hotel (1983-88)) also have starring roles in this film (but not in EastEnders).

The older stars include British character actors, Patrick Barr (last seen in this blog in The Black Windmill (1974)) and Elizabeth Bradley (Coronation Street (1960-)). Neither of them is seen in nude scenes, but to carry on this theme a wee bit more…  Wikipedia adds that Bradley had a wee role as the old lady who sees a naked David Naughton in London Zoo in An American Werewolf in London (1981).

The film starts in the wee small hours as Jane (Judy Matheson) is woken up after a knock on the front door. She asks her flatmate – Carol (Luan Peters) to answer it, and she’s the one with a nightie on! As Carol goes and answers it in the nude (maybe, just maybe she forgot to put on her nightie). But hopefully, if you do this it’s only in sexploitation movies as it’s probably not advisable as it could be.. well anyone, but I digress.

A young man with a knife in his stomach and covered in blood stumbles into the women’s home. After going full-tilt dramatic and staggering around for a bit he collapses.. and this “collapse” is also with laughter. It’s Carol’s creepy actor friend John (David Howey) and Carol met him on a horror film set the day before.

Needless to say, the girls aren’t that impressed at being woken up and so he gets a slap. The girls then tell him they’ve just signed a contract to do a show in the theatre at Eastcliffe on Sea, a coastal English town. John says he’s also been asked to join this acting troupe.

Then it’s all change, as we see a film within a film. This is a romantic final scene of a Jane Austen inspired movie, so it’s all frilly shirts and corsets and formal declarations of love. The film’s leading lady, Julia Dawson (Jenny Hanley) is watching those final rushes with her agent, leading man (Jess Conrad) and the studio heads. Her agent tells her she’s got the same theatre gig as a headlining star. Julia can’t wait to do theatre again, dealing.

On arriving at Eastcliffe on Sea station, Carol and Jane meet Major Bell (Patrick Barr), a kindly old gentleman who gives them directions to the theatre. The women meet up with John and another actor, the hot Aussie, Tony (Tristan Rogers) and the four head to the theatre – which is naturally isolated and surrounded by fog – on the pier. This gloomy looking theatre, they discover has been pretty much abandoned, and is full of cobwebs and dark corridors.

Then after exploring a wee bit more, Jane screams after seeing the apparently dead – but sleeping – Simon (Robin Askwith) and the half-naked – for no obvious reason, as this film was made before his sex comedies – Angela (Penny Meredith) in another jump scare. Simon and Angela are revealed to be their fellow troupe members.

And as if by magic (Mr Benn quote intended) their director Mike (Ray Brooks) also appears and introduces himself. He tells them they’ll sleep at the theatre. This is just in case they get inspiration during the night so everyone can be woken up to try those ideas out… (yay).

The show they are doing is to be called The Flesh and Blood Show, and then it’s time for an impromptu improvisation. This has everyone clad in fur underwear – like Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC (1966) and dancing 70s style to a 70s beat. Well everyone but Mike, who shouts encouraging words at them all. Someone is watching these young people, as we see a gloved hand…

Then it’s bedtime, and Mike suggests separate sleeping arrangements for the actors and actresses. Angela offers Jane a massage, much to John’s joy as he watches them, as Jane is topless (of course). Carol and Tony pair off and share more than a dressing room (know what I mean??), and everyone goes to sleep.

A scream in the dark is heard – after the gloved hand is seen again – and this scream wakes up Jane. Then those seventies manly, men go to investigate in the dark (despite the fact that everyone’s awake), as Angela is discovered to be missing.

Mike finds her head on a shelf next to a row of masks. Her headless corpse is found on a working guillotine. So he talks to John and then Mike gets the (inept) cops in. And then Mike doesn’t tell anyone else! (Why??) By which time Angela’s body has been replaced with a waxwork dummy. The cops think he’s wasting their time, and Mike’s angry with John for not sticking up for him.

Later Mike finds a note from Angela – which we know was left by a person with a gloved hand – saying she’s left and gone home to London. Then in the wee small hours, Julia swans in and joins Carol and Tony in their room (so as not to wake anyone else). Tony spies on her getting undressed. Carol spots him watching Julia get naked, and Carol is not a happy bunny.

The next day, everyone goes to the local coffee shop and they meet Major Bell again. He invites them all for tea at his place. Another young actress, Susan (Candace Glendenning) joins their troupe, and her auntie (Elizabeth Bradley) owns a Bed and Breakfast. Carol and Tony have a fight, and Carol storms out, putting just a coat on. Then she is attacked by a tramp…

Meanwhile, Julia gets some deja vu and believes she’s been in the theatre before. She also spots a peephole in the ladies’ dressing room. After she visits the library, Julia discovers the theatre was closed in 1945, after the leading man, his wife and her lover disappeared the same night in mysterious circumstances…

Then Mike tells the troupe, the production place and agent that hired them for the gig can’t be traced, that Angela never returned home and then the horror for the troupe members increases as the dead bodies mount up…

This film is an excellent whodunnit written by Alfred Shaughnessy, and it’s one with an unexpected twist. The twists in the plot keep you transfixed to those crazy revealing tell-all scenes. It’s a shame that I didn’t see these final scenes in 3D as Walker intended, but even in black and white, they add much to the chilling plot and ambience.

I loved seeing the set-up for these and the big reveal, which is more apparent on just whodunnit on the second watch. The over the top nude scenes surprisingly are revealed to be important in this tell-all scene, where the killer explains their motives. The musical score from Cyril Ornadel is eerie and chilling. The howling wind is added to those spooky-themed suspense tunes which included ominous chimes and drums.

The suspense-filled setups to the murders were often filmed in the dark and often just torchlight was used to light the scenes as they explored the theatre. The murders in the film took place off-screen but victims’ corpses were discovered in creepy ways and spooky circumstances. The film also used red herrings, jump scares and distractions to captivating effects.

I loved seeing those famous names in early roles, and together they had amiable on-screen chemistry. This young on-screen cast was believable as an acting troupe and the script included petty falls out, rivalries and inevitable romances. Sadly, some actors and actresses were underused in this film. I would have liked more scenes with these cast members to add more suspense, tension and character building, and both Robin Askwith and Candace Glendenning could have been used more.

But all and all this film should take centre stage in your to watch list. But do tune in to see if Judy Matheson is the last girl standing in this sexy 70’s slasher… Or will someone else have that role before the film brings down the final curtain?

 

Weeper Rating: 😦/10

Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10

Hulk Rating: ‎mrgreen mrgreen mrgreen /10

 

4 thoughts on “FILMS… The Flesh and Blood Show (1972)

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