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The Strange Things Boutique




House of Whipcord
DVD. Cheezy Flicks.

House of Whipcord is one of the most significant British horror films of the 1970s, a bleak, grim and unsavoury slice of cinema that helped signal the end of the gothic and the rise of a decade of nastiness. No wonder that it was roundly hated by the horror establishment, then – as now – suspicious and contemptuous of anything new and challenging.

Opening with a cynical dedication to the hanging and flogging brigade, the film tells the story of Anne Marie (Penny Irving), a French model who meets a young man at a party, and despite his name being Mark E. Desade, agrees to leave with him. Before long, she’s captive in a disused prison, where Mark’s parents (Barbara Markham and Patrick Barr) run a quasi-judicial punishment regime for girls who have strayed from the path of righteousness. Along with psychotic warder Walker (Sheila Keith), they strip, torture and abuse the girls in a hypocritical attempt to punish them for their sins’. But things soon start to fall apart, as Anne-Marie plans her escape…

House of WhipcordWith a sharply savage screenplay from David MacGillivray and solid, no-nonsense direction from Peter Walker – the first of several collaborations between the two – House of Whipcord rises above the exploitative nature of the material, without compromising on the sleaze factor. Irving and Anne Michelle get to take their clothes off, there’s some gratuitous whipping and an overwhelming air of grubbiness, but the film nevertheless makes its point smartly, skewering the double standards of the so-called Moral Majority.

It’s essential viewing for any fan of British horror, or indeed Seventies excess, and has been released in several quality editions. However, this release is taken from an allegedly public domain source (there is no way that House of Whipcord is out of copyright), presented full-screen and in a substandard version on DVD-R. I’m happy to accept lower quality for genuine PD movies, but this is fairly outrageous – if you are going to steal a copyrighted film, you’d think Cheezy could’ve at least shelled out on the Anchor Bay release as source material.

So – see the film by any means necessary. But avoid this particular edition.





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