First off, I have to say that Monday’s film, House of Whipcord (1974), is not a Hammer Studios production. I know, it’s Hammer Week and all, but this disk had come from Netflix, and I felt I should watch it and not hold up my queue. Besides, it’s English, so, you know, it sort of counts.
House of Whipcord was an endurance test for me right out of the gate. This guy is much kinder to the film than it deserves. His enthusiasm makes me tired. Of course, it had been a long night. Before Whipcord, I was forced to watch Legends of The Fall (1994) a terminally exhausting film with a premise too convoluted to get into here. Suffice it to say there’s three brothers, a woman they all love, lots of Montana, and a body count much higher than today’s horror movie. I had to watch Legends for my Thursday night class, and I thought a taste of the old Whipcord was going to be a nice treat afterwards. Wow, was I wrong.
At first I thought I’d found some 1970s Hostel-esque flick, and I was a little nervous. HoW begins with vivacious-yet-naive French model, Anna Marie, swept off her feet by a mysterious writer she meets in London, played by creepy Robert Tayman, (from Hammer’s Vampire Circus, which we’ll get to later this week). He whisks her off to the country to meet his mother, but when they arrive at their destination, things take a bad turn for Anna Marie. First, she’s forced to strip (natch!) by a chick who looks and sounds like Riff-Raff’s mother:
She’s then tried and convicted of using a terrible French accent being immoral or something, and sentenced to wear burlap and tons of eyeliner for the rest of the film. Her jailer is a woman with the face of Anne Ramsey and the hair of Barbara Walters.
Some stuff happened after that. Hangings, I think. Implied whippings. An escape or two. Nothing very horrifying, to tell you the truth, but then I was getting a bit tired. After the punishingly plodding pace of LOTF, Whipcord’s glacier-like plot development was stultifying. I kept waiting for some cheesy torture, a little gooey blood, or even some nudity just to break things up a bit, but all I got was Mama Riff-Raff walking around a lot. Slowly.
True, for an exploitation film, the direction was really quite interesting. There were a number of excellent cuts and surprising transitions. I was surprised, too, by a twist or two in the end of the film. But any virtues of Whipcord arrived too infrequently and too late, and all of it was slathered with a thick layer of really cheesy Foley. Everyone’s shoes were so loud in this movie.
A scream and a half for the off-camera whippings.