19 November 2009


Somehow I procured a factory copy of the tape in a clamshell case with this badly photocopied cover art.

United Kingdom - 1976
Director - Pete Walker
United Home Video, 1986, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 49 minutes

Far be it from me to judge the English on the basis of a few films. I’ve always been a little jealous of all their castles and crumpets and whatnot. But as with Japanese horror, I struggle to grasp British stylistic sensibility. The first British horror film I really liked was Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers (2002). Perhaps this is because Marshall's style has been so informed by the American milieu.
Now I'll laugh and nod my head at all they stereotypes of Americans and their fims as well. Hell I agree, we’re all slovenly, boorish, gorilla-fisted mouth-breathers. But as a mouth breather, I find that too much British film fulfills the excessively proper “I say old chap” negative stereotype. Hence having just watched the 1971 film The House That Dripped Blood, I’m looking for something that isn’t drawing room horror (literally). British director Pete Walker helmed a series of what are widely considered horror classics in the late 70’s, including House of Whipcord and The Flesh and Blood Show so I’m hoping for something good here. These two are memorable mostly because the first is a particularly bleak W.I.P. film and the later mostly because of the skin.

Sadly, that is also the only reason I can find to like Schizo. Ostensibly I’m supposed to believe that Sam (Lynne Frederick) is a professional ice skater, the problem is she’s built like a 1950's burlesque dancer. This fact will actually pay off, though. The ice skating is soon subsumed under a series of motiveless murders. Some Old Chap sees a newspaper story about an upcoming skating performance, and decides that it’s his job to drive home the whole, “you’re not really an ice skater who do you think you’re fooling” thing. The intention is to confuse Giallo style, whether the killer is Sam or Old Chap.

But that’s all really a side story, a mere distraction to the crucial few moments of plot which wiggle across the screen during Sam’s 7:30am shower scene. If what I’m seeing on screen is accurate, in England shower curtains are merely useless paisley window dressing, and front-door locks, superfluous paranoia. Subsequently, on every single viewing over the last ten years I have found a single curvaceous 1 minute and thirty second reason why Schizo is worth sitting through. The rest remains a boring drone of Englishmen pontificating on the fundamental psychological weakness of women while making cagey swinger innuendoes.

Like a psychiatrist trying to coax a building-jumper down from his perch, all the condescending, long winded explication that comes before and after Sam’s climactic "performance" makes little practical sense to the final outcome. The story is ultimately far less interesting than the real life of star Lynne Frederick. And I have to admit on this one that my tastes can be pretty crude at times, I guess that’s what makes me such a good American.

I ran across this very old school Media VHS box a couple of weeks ago. The box is copyrighted 1978, probably just the text content because the tape itself said 1980.

Found image on German Ebay.

Can't find my original source for this poster, but Giallo Fever has the same one.


Anonymous said...

Hell yes, that is some prime Brit poontang. Tally ho fair maiden!

Bobby80s said...

Fantastic post mate, great images!

You not like the film much, but over here, Pete Walker is revered amongst horror fans!!