31 October 2014

House of Whipcord (1974)
86 min.
Directed by Pete Walker.
With Barbara Markham, Patrick Barr, Ray Brooks, Ann Michelle, Penny Irving, Sheila Keith, Dorothy Gordon, Robert Tayman.
Director Walker has a well-honed gift for transforming low budget premises into effective chillers with brooding atmospheres, unique characters and delicious exploitation shocks.

And House of Whipcord proves no exception.

Using her son to kidnap immoral young ladies from the city, demented wardress Mrs. Wakehurst (Markham) runs her own makeshift female prison outside London.

Assisted by sadistic 'corrections officers' Keith and Gordon, this dastardly trio hopes to teach their wanton inmates the beauty of virtue - by starving, flogging, and hanging them until death. Way to go, rehabilitation!

Aided by a musty and dank mood, this shocker benefits from some scene-chewing performances and a nicely executed climax (done with a Shakespearean dash of grandiose tragedy).

As always, Keith is simply a terrifying joy to watch here - but, believe it or not, Markham's deranged theatrics match her inch for inch.

This sleazy ode from Walker is just a bit underrated, and well worth regular visitations.

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