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The Confessional: House of Mortal Sin
The Confessional House of Mortal Sin
Actors: Jack Allen, Stephanie Beacham, Kim Butcher, Norman Eshley, Mervyn Johns
Director: Pete Walker
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
UR     2006     1hr 40min

The macabre tale of a priest who records his parishioners' confessions and uses the tapes to blackmail his victims. Those unable or unwilling to meet his demands soon discover they must pay the ultimate price. After severa...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Jack Allen, Stephanie Beacham, Kim Butcher, Norman Eshley, Mervyn Johns
Director: Pete Walker
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Shriek Show
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/28/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/1976
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1976
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

"Do you wish to make a confession or not?"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 11/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"From The Pete Walker Collection comes the film The Confessional (1975) aka House of Mortal Sin, adapted for the screen by David McGillivray (House of Whipcord, Frightmare) and directed by Pete Walker (House of Whipcord, Frightmare, Schizo), starring Anthony Sharp (A Clockwork Orange), Susan Penhaligon (The Land That Time Forgot), Stephanie Beacham (Inseminoid, "Dynasty"), and Norman Eshley (Blind Terror). Also appearing is Hilda Barry (Carry on Loving), Stewart Bevan (The Ghoul), Julia McCarthy (Erik the Viking), and Walker regular Sheila Keith (House of Whipcord, Frightmare).

The film begins we see a distressed young woman returning home, after which she runs to her room and locks the door. Her parents, concerned for her welfare, try to talk to her through the door, but after finally breaking in the door, they discover she had thrown herself from the window for reasons unknown. After this we meet a young blonde woman named Jenny Welsh (Penhaligon), who lives with her older sister Vanessa (Beacham), the latter who runs a boutique of sorts. After Jenny has a chance meeting with someone named Father Bernard Cutler (Eshley), whom apparently was involved with Vanessa prior to entering the priesthood, we learn Jenny's having some man trouble with her live-in boyfriend Terry (Bevan), particularly in his penchant for playing the field. Jenny goes around to the church to talk with Bernard, but ends up given confession to Father Xavier Meldrum (Sharp), who seems just a bit too interested in the various intimate details of her relationship with Terry. Turns out Father Meldrum tape records the confessions he takes, and then, in some instances, uses them to blackmail people into doing his bidding. Also, Meldrum has taken a particular interest in Jenny, wanting to do more than help her save her soul, if you get my drift. Jenny relates what happened to slimy Terry, who tries to retrieve the audiotape, but meets his demise at the business end of a viciously swung incense decanter (it sure is convenient having a graveyard just outside the church, but the question now is how to explain the fresh mound). Jenny makes various claims about Meldrum, but those around her, including her sister, believe Jenny's having some sort of breakdown as Meldrum is a clever sort, and manages to cover his `indiscretions' quite well. She does eventually meet a kindred spirit in the form of the mother of the girl who killed herself at the beginning of the film (seems the girl had dealings with Meldrum prior her death, and, as a result, her mother has since become suspicious of Meldum), but the wily priest, always one step ahead, begins meting out his own form of divine retribution.

So far I've seen a handful of Pete Walker's film, and in comparison, The Confessional stacks up pretty well. It's no Frightmare or House of Whipcord, but it's certainly better than The Flesh and Blood Show or The Comeback. One main difference I noticed in this film compared to most of the other Walker features I've seen is while there are some odd vestiges of a `whodunit' factor here, there's not much question as far as who the murderer is, and his motive. One element I did find in common with Walker's other features was the amount of depth within the story. All the main characters are fleshed out very well making it easy for the viewer to become entangled in what plays out on the screen. As with his other films the pacing does tend to crawl along, but I found a lot of enjoyable Hitchcock-like moments throughout the feature, especially given the fact I wasn't expending energy trying to discern the identity of the killer. One aspect of the story I really enjoyed was how Father Meldrum, who was a real sicko, would act all creepy and such when alone with Jenny, but when someone else would show up, he make it appear like she was some sort of obsessive nutcase whom he was only trying to help, and this usually worked given his stature with the small community. There's a lot more elements to the story I didn't discuss (one of them questioned celibacy requisite of the priesthood, both on a general and specific level). I thought all the performers did well, the standouts being Anthony Sharp and Sheila Keith who played the character of Miss Brabazon, Father Meldrum's creepy live-in housekeeper who wore an eye patch and cared (if you can call it that) for Meldrum's geriatric mother. Despite the lack of mystery within the story there's still a good deal of suspense tied to the various characters not believing Jenny's story and Meldrum's abilities to conceal his peccadilloes. There are some interesting murders sprinkled throughout, some of the more memorable ones including rosary beads, tainted communion wafers, and a flaming incense decanter. There's really not much in terms of nekkidness, other than a quick behind shot of Miss Penhaligon. All in all while this isn't my favorite Pete Walker film (that's a toss up between Frightmare and House of Whipcord, both of which feature Sheila Keith much more prominently), The Confessional does rate higher than some of his others, particularly The Flesh and Blood Show, which was lukewarm, at best, in my opinion.

The picture on the Media Blasters/Shriek Show DVD release, presented in widescreen anamorphic (1.85:1), looks decent, but know there's plenty of white specking at both the beginning and end of the film. There are also occasional visual flaws throughout, but nothing seriously detrimental to viewing. The picture is far from perfect, but I've seen a lot worse. As far as the audio, it's available in both original mono and a newly master Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, both of which come across very well. In terms of extras there's some worthwhile features available, including a audio commentary track with director Walker, moderated by author Jonathan Rigby, a featurette entitled `Courting Controversy: An Insider's Look at the Films of Pete Walker', another one titled `Sheila Keith: A Nice Old Lady?' which provides a loving tribute to one of the more prominent performers often found in Walker's movies, film notes (with incredibly small text), and trailers for other Walker films available on DVD including The Flesh and Blood Show (1972), Die Screaming, Marianne (1971), Frightmare (1974), The Comeback (1978), and House of the Whipcord (1974)...odd I didn't see one here for The Confessional, though.

The Confessional
Bob Lew | Mass. | 06/27/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I'm a big fan of Stephanie Beacham so I got this movie. I thought it was pretty good for the time in which it was made--but was dissapointed by the ending. But, I do recommend the video."
A film worth checking out
Chloe | USA | 05/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One of Britain's finest horror films of the 1970s. Terribly underrated & has been virtually obscure over the years. Not viable in many outlets after being discontinued on home video back in the 1990s, The Confessional was a flick I had to hunt down & was fortunate to finally luck out with a former rental copy from one of the Blockbuster video chains & at a reasonable price. I wasn't at all disappointed. I'd gladly recommend this to any fan of horror films. It has an apt cast & the story is well worth checking out.

The late Anthony Sharp does a great job as the demented priest. There's a movie poster for this movie on
I had never seen a poster for this film before, so naturally was curious what the artwork had been. It's a keeper, too, as is this offering. If you're a fan of the horror film genre & can appreciate an older flick with suspense & not so much blood & gore & don't have a hangup about british films, you'll love The Confessional. Buy the DVD & add it to your collection.

Also I strongly recommend Horror Hospital, another horror film from Britain's Hammer Studios from the mid 1970s."