October 4, 2013

Horror-A-Day: House of Whipcord

As October continues being unseasonably warm, my remote is still able to find movies I have not seen before indoors, where I can ignore the non-Fall like weather. The more I watch, the more there are to see. This time my remote came to land on a movie called House of Whipcord. It is a 1974 Britsploitation movie by Pete Walker and is one of those movies I wish I was pointed towards earlier. Of course, I am fortunate hat movies like his are popping up on Netflix. I also encourage anyone into grimy 70's exploitation, definitely check this one out.

If you want to over simplify the movie, you could call this a women in prison movie. While technically true, that is hardly the correct way to look at this film. It does start with an indicator of depth: "This film is dedicated to those who are disturbed by today's lax moral codes and who eagerly await the return of corporal and capital punishment." Still, if you take that as a serious note on the movie's content, you are in for a surprise.

As the story kicks off, we see a girl stumbling through the rain. She falls and gets the attention of a truck driver who sees her scarred back, helps her into his truck and asks what happened. Time flashes back to show how we ended up there.

Early in the film, model Ann Marie (Penny Irving) partakes in a photo shoot in a public place that calls for some nudity. She does it, but feels a bit awkward about it afterwards. She is a young woman still searching for herself and this just brings up some more questions. Anyway, at a nightclub she meets a nice fellow named Marc (Robert Tayman). While, he does have a dangerous side, he does invite her to go away for the weekend to meet his family. Ann Marie's roommate, Julia (Ann Marie), is skeptical, but off she goes.

This is where things begin to take a turn. Rather than meeting Marc's family, he disappears and Ann Marie is taken into an old prison. She is stripped of her clothing and her dignity. Thrust before an elderly blind judge and the cruel governess where she is charged with breaking moral law. Before long she is dressed in a sack, tossed in a small cell, and learns that if you break the rules three times, you are executed.

I feel I have said too much already. The movie is involving as you are drawn into this world of punishment and despair. It is filled with 70's sleaze but it is not without interesting story elements. Think about the intro, lamenting the demise of morality, then think of the people looking to bring morality back. It is pretty fascinating to watch the nasty governess try to enact her agenda, manipulating all around her, even the judge. Not to mention the 'rule breaker,' who is just a young girl trying to find her way in the world.

There is a surprising amount of depth to be found here, or revel in the surface depravity. They are both valid. It is pretty interesting considering that director Pete Walker recently spoke about rewarding his movies and scoffing at looking for hidden meanings, saying he just wanted to make some mischief.

House of Whipcord is a fantastic movie. It has a decided dark side, but also looks a how selective morality is no morality and how wrong it is when punishment is the course rather than education. It is also fun and sleazy with an ending that goes in dark directions.

Highly Recommended.

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