One of Pete Walker’s most infamous films, House of Whipcord is a highly disturbing project that may be too unpleasant for casual viewers to enjoy.
The plot revolves around Anne-Marie, a pretty (but slightly dim) French model who spends her time wandering naked around the flat she shares with the equally undressed Julie, played by Anne Michelle (sister of Vicky, of ‘Allo ‘Allo fame).
Anne-Marie has recently got ’em out for the press, too, but gets upset when a picture of her parts appears on the wall at a party she’s attending.
Enter enigmatic writer Mark E. Desade (Robert Tayman) who offers to take Anne-Marie home to meet Mum.
She discovers too late that Mum is the deranged, moralistic Mrs Wakehurst (Barbara Markham), and that the family mansion is really an unauthorised private prison for girls who Mum considers wicked sluts. Anne-Marie is to be imprisoned for modelling in the nude.
What follows isn’t as explicit as you might expect, but the proceedings are so horrifyingly cruel and oppressively bleak that it’s often hard to watch.
The acting is top-notch all around, especially Sheila Keith as Walker – a whip-wielding barbarian guard.
Director Pete Walker wrings every bit of clammy tension out of the unsavoury story. He keeps things very unpredictable; when you least expect it you are hit by an oh-my-God twist that leaves the situation even more hopeless.
The pace is slow, there’s some unobtrusively clever editing to be found, and the colour looks appropriately filthy. This babes-behind-bars horror amalgam really is powerful, but don’t make Anne-Marie’s mistake – Know where you’re heading before you set out. . .
Ann-Marie de Verney
Mark E Desade