London: Cigarette Burns Celebrates Pete Walker at the Barbican

Invited to London’s Barbican Centre to program throughout November, UK outfit Cigarette Burns Cinema—a champion of genre gems, both celebrated and overlooked—has chosen to highlight the work of English horror great, Pete Walker. 

The House of Walker then acts as a described five-film “tour of the British horror king’s blood-soaked, sleaze-oozing legacy.” Sleaze being the optimal word, as Walker sensationalized scandalous and culture-based anxieties into minor treasures of raw English terror including FRIGHTMARE, THE COMEBACK, THE FLESH & BLOOD SHOW, SCHIZO and more.

Josh Saco, head of Cigarette Burns, tells Fango, “Pete Walker is one of those overlooked and forgotten directors, which is a shame as the amount of work and energy he pumped in the exploitation film world is nearly unparalleled. Through the late 60s & 70s, he was the British genre auteur, a forerunner of Carpenter and Craven. But we’re so focused on the US and European genre output, we often forget that in the UKs, the Soho screens were boiling with Britain’s very own special brand of terror – Brit Grot, sleazy, at times uncomfortable, but always bleak, and the establishment was to blame.”

Saco has selected five of Walker’s works, screening THE COMEBACK, HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN, COOL IT CAROL, HOUSE OF WHIPCORD and the stellar FRIGHTMARE each Saturday throughout November and boasting introductions from film writers such as David McGillivray (who also penned three of these films) and Matthew Sweet, critic and author Kim Newman and film historian Jonathan Rigby. Walker himself will be in attendance for a ScreenTalk at the Saturday, November 22 screening of HOUSE OF WHIPCORD.

You can find the full, entirely recommended HOUSE OF WALKER program, below. Tickets—£9.50 (standard), £8.50 (concessions), £7.60 (members)—can be found at Barbican.

• THE COMEBACK (UK 1978 Dir Pete Walker 100 min) + Intro by Kim Newman

Sat 1 Nov

Walker draws heavily on the Italian giallo movement for this classic thriller. Singer Nick Cooper (Jack Jones) returns to London to get his career back on track, unaware that his estranged wife has been brutally murdered. Bizarre events begin to pile up – is Jack losing his mind or in mortal danger?

• HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN (UK 1976 Dir Pete Walker 104 min) + Intro by David McGillivray and Kim Newman

Sat 8 Nov

Scriptwriter David McGillivray’s third team up with Walker, and this time they take on the might of the Church. Father Meldrum (Anthony Sharp) is suffering from a serious case of moral decay. Fortunately, his position in society provides just the right cover, and when young Jenny Welch (Susan Penhaligon) catches his eye, he’ll go to any length to get what he wants.

• COOL IT CAROL (UK 1970 Dir Pete Walker 101 min)  + Intro By Matthew Sweet

Sat 15 Nov

Young Joe Sickles (Robin Askwith) wants more from life, but was never prepared for where Carol (Janet Lynn) was going to take him. Walker’s dark comedy showcases the seedier side of Swinging London, as fresh-faced youngsters are chewed up and spat out by the exploitation machine.

• HOUSE OF WHIPCORD (UK 1974 Dir Pete Walker 102 min) + ScreenTalk with Pete Walker and Jonathan Rigby

Sat 22 Nov

Coaxed to an ominous country house, model Anne-Marie (Penny Irving) finds herself trapped in a makeshift girls prison ruled by a retired judge, the blind Justice Bailey. As his sadistic wife (Sheila Keith) subjects the inmates to cruel and unusual punishments, Walker’s sleazy masterpiece becomes a powerful condemnation of the justice system.

• FRIGHTMARE (UK 1974 Dir Pete Walker 88 min)  + Intro by Jonathan Rigby

Sat 29 Nov

One of Walker’s best-known films, Frightmare is a classic of British horror. Deemed fully cured, Jackie’s parents have been released from an asylum. Caught between caring for them and minding her teenage tearaway sister, Jackie’s life is proving increasingly complex. Of course not everything is as it seems, especially when your mother is a cannibal.

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Samuel Zimmerman
Fangoria.com Managing Editor Samuel Zimmerman has been at FANGORIA since 2009, where fresh out of the Purchase College Cinema Studies program, he began as an editorial assistant. Since, he’s honed both his writing and karaoke skills and been trusted with the responsibility of jury duty at Austin’s incredible Fantastic Fest. Zimmerman lives in and hails from The Bronx, New York where his pants are too tight and he’ll watch anything with witches.
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