The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – LA Presents:
LIVE FROM MISKATONIC: PETE WALKER IN CONVERSATION
at The Philosophical Research Society May 9th!
Miskatonic is proud to present an evening in conversation with the great British horror and sexploitation director Pete Walker.
Starting out in softcore sex shorts in the 1960s before turning to features in 1968 with films like The Big Switch, School of Sex and his breakthrough, Cool it Carol! in 1969, Walker then self-financed a decade of brilliant horror and terror films including Die Screaming Marianne (1971), The Flesh and Blood Show (1972), House of Whipcord (1974), Frightmare (1974), The Confessional (1976), Schizo (1976), The Comeback (1978) and House of the Long Shadows (1983), with the odd sexploitation film still peppered in, such as Tiffany Jones (1973) and Home Before Midnight (1979).
Walker’s work was often critically reviled in its day – even while being immensely successful commercially – although some astute critics did note their sophisticated subtexts, often dealing with double lives and the sadism of conservative authority figures who dole out various degrees of punishment to their younger, less repressed counterparts, who they see as vulgar or sinful. Thanks to the combination of enthusiastic British horror journalists and zine writers, the FAB Press release of Steve Chibnail’s book Making Mischief: the Cult Films of Pete Walker in 1998, and the reissue of several of Walker’s films by Anchor Bay in 2005, and more recently on horror streaming service Shudder, he has thankfully staked his place in the horror pantheon.
We’ll talk to Walker about being an upstart in an uptight industry, making a horror icon out of elderly Scottish actress Sheila Keith, turning communion wafers into weapons in The Confessional, working with horror giants Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and John Carradine on House of the Long Shadows, his ill-fated Sex Pistols documentary, and so much more.
About the instructor: The son of musical comedy performer Syd Walker, Pete himself started as a stand-up in a Soho strip club. After acting in low-budget British programme-fillers, he set up his own company in the early 1960s, producing 8mm glamour films. Using the money from this highly lucrative enterprise, he graduated to 35mm feature production, making films like Strip Poker (1968) and Cool it Carol! (1970), which marked Robin Askwith’s soft porn debut. Under his own ‘Peter Walker (Heritage)’ brand, he even experimented with 3-D technology, in The Four Dimensions of Greta and The Flesh and Blood Show (both 1972).
Finding the ‘adult film’ genre repetitive, he moved to horror, although he preferred the term ‘terror films’ as he didn’t feel any particular affinity for the genre, despite being aware of its potential. Exploring the themes of abuse of authority and the widening generation gap that he perceived in society, Walker’s best films were scathing indictments of British institutions: in House of Whipcord (1973), a couple running a corrective prison torture the inmates, Frightmare (1974) saw a couple released from a mental institution luring people to their farm and murdering them, while The House of Mortal Sin (1975) depicted a Catholic priest terrorising a young girl). While most critics savaged the films, the Monthly Film Bulletin found more in them than just exploitation, comparing House of Whipcord to Michael Powell’s psychological thriller Peeping Tom (1960). His only non-independent film was also his last: the Golan-Globus production House of the Long Shadows (1982), an adaptation of the classic Seven Keys to Baldpate, was a fitting final production, a nostalgia piece starring horror veterans Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price. After abandoning film-making, Walker went into property development.
The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – LA – Live From Miskatonic: Pete Walker in Conversation
Date: May 9th 2019
Venue: Philosophical Research Society
Address: 3910 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Prices: $15 advance / $17 door
About the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies: Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is an international organization that offers university-level history, theory and production-based masterclasses for people of all ages, founded by film writer and programmer Kier-La Janisse in March 2010, with regular branches in London, New York and L.A. as well as presenting special events worldwide.