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Writings on film. Shock and art. There may be blood.

Pete Walker

Director Pete Walker
Best known for:

House of the Long Shadows

House of Whipcord


Related artists:

Sheila Keith

Similar artists:

Alfred Hitchcock


Pete Walker was a director who is considered to have succeeded at transplanting elements of Gothic horror into modern settings. His works were unpretentious and were meant to disturb audiences. They featured a combination of psychological and violent elements that bridged the worlds of art and exploitation film.

Walker's movies featured such lurid titles as The Flesh and Blood Show, House of Mortal Sin, House of Whipcord and Die Screaming, Marianne. His films can be psychological in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, but they are much more violent and sensationalistic. He was well aware of what audiences wanted to see. There is also an element of body horror in his movies, as he liked to spotlight the disfigured, the ill and the aged.

Many artists see their work as a challenge to an existing establishment. Walker was different: He trusted no one and poked a stick at everyone. In his view, the counterculture was just as corrupt as the social authorities. This makes for a nice pre-punk nihilistic streak. Trusted figures abuse their authority and operate beyond suspicion. Family safety and moral leadership are horribly subverted.

Walker explicitly set out to make audiences uncomfortable. Hammer films were Gothic period pieces set in far-away lands, but Walker's films used identifiable characters and modern settings. Audiences were not allowed the comfort of distance from the action. He also avoided cathartic, happy endings. His movies typically have unresolved endings in which the villains receive no comeuppance for their actions.

All this filmic pessimism took a toll, and Walker's health suffered under the stresses of production. He retired after the 1982 House of Long Shadows and has never made a film since.


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