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.
Image: Miskatonic Institute