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  Flesh and Blood Show, The The Roar Of The Greasepaint, The Smell Of The Crowd
Year: 1972
Director: Pete Walker
Stars: Ray Brooks, Jenny Hanley, Luan Peters, Robin Askwith, Candace Glendenning, Tristan Rogers, Judy Matheson, David Howey, Elizabeth Bradley, Rodney Diak, Penny Meredith, Sally Lahee, Raymond Young, Carol Allen, Alan Curtis, Patrick Barr, Jess Conrad
Genre: Horror, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Flatmates Jane (Judy Matheson) and Carol (Luan Peters) are asleep in bed one night when they hear a banging on the front door. They have a brief discussion and Carol decides to get up and answer it, not bothering to put any clothes on, but when she opens the door there's a friend of theirs, John (David Howey), who is standing there with a knife in his guts. He staggers inside and the young women look on aghast as he collapses, dying in their front room - oh no he isn't, he's only joking. What a card. After a cup of coffee, conversation turns to their next acting job at the seaside...

The Flesh and Blood Show certainly had plenty of flesh on display, but horror fans hoping for a gorefest would be let down by the amount of claret being spilled as this Pete Walker effort was more a whodunnit thriller than the full-on slasher it might have been if made about five to ten years later. It slotted into the horror category nevertheless, because it represented one of Walker's first entries into his lucrative shocker cycle, which would get grimmer and more lurid as it went along, though here as we worked from a script by Alfred Shaughnessy there wasn't much that would be barred from a TV play of the era.

Apart from the nudity, perhaps, but there was still a liberated air to what they were getting away with on British television in the seventies as non-coincidentally the British cinema industry went into decline. Thus Walker and his more exploitation movie minded cohorts tried to see what they could do to push the envelope when if your production was criticised by Mary Whitehouse and her cohorts it was a badge of pride knowing you were winding up the right people, an alert to your audience that everything they were seeking would be provided in ninety minutes or so of cinematic splendiferousness. Well, that was the idea, though actually watching one might not be quite as impressive.

That said, Walker was one of the better exponents of British horror movies for a few short years, and his usual old versus young material was well to the fore here. To say more would be to give away too much of the plot, but just look at the way the crusty police detectives regard the report of a missing young woman near the beginning and we could understand a generation gap was in the offing. Our young folks are the actors and their director Mike (Ray Brooks) who have been assembled by the mysterious Theatre 40 group to rehearse in this long-abandoned theatre on the pier of this off-season seaside town, this in spite of nobody having actually met any of their assumed bosses.

They all have to sleep in the building too, lending an air of austerity Britain since the surroundings have a rather marvellous, rundown atmosphere which went some way to making the film worth a look for aficionados. What they get up to is rather more dubious; for a start, can anybody work out what the hell the plot of their play is supposed to be? It is being improvised right enough, but one moment they're cavorting cavepersons and the next they're doing "my body is my tool" interpretive gestures. Then there's the libidinous nature of the participants: Carol pairs off almost immediately with one of her co-stars, but Jane gets be stripped and massaged by an opportunist lesbian (Penny Meredith) who promptly disappears leaving us wondering what the two of them got up to, if anything. Jenny Hanley appeared too, as a promising newcomer (magazine show Magpie would make her a star - among children) who has a completely different body when she takes her clothes off, and as if that were not odd enough, listen for the pronunciation of the word "excrement" for true hilarity. 3D flashback, too. Music by Cyril Ornadel.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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