Judge Gordon Sullivan is sure your favorite zombie will love this.
Our review of The Flesh And Blood Show, published August 3rd, 2006, is also available.
An Appalling Amalgam of Carnage and Carnality…
We tend to act as though are fixed facts we can navigate around like stars in the sky. That, though, is not really the case, especially when it comes to things like origins. Where, for instance, does the slasher film start? Many will answer Halloween immediately, and there's a strong case to be made for it. What about Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace or Twitch of the Death Nerve, though? Nobody would call them slashers, per se, but if they didn't exist it would be hard to imagine Friday the 13th. We could, in fact, continue this trend ad nauseum. The point is that it's almost arbitrary where we decide the actual "first" slasher is. What's more fun, though, is finding influences and figuring out where they fit. The Flesh and Blood Show is interesting in this regard, as we can see hints of the violence and sexuality (not the mention the slaughter) of the slasher film in this British production from 1972, predating the slasher film proper by a few years. The folks from Redemption have gone all out to bring this largely-forgotten gem out as The Flesh and Blood Show (Blu-ray).
Though productions of Macbeth are usually cursed, in the case of a quaint theater in one of England's seaside villages it's Othello that ends in tragedy. Hoping to put the past behind them, the troupe opens a "groovy" musical revue, but tragedy strikes again as they are bumped off one by one.
The Flesh and Blood Show is going to appeal to two groups of people. The first are those who appreciate a particularly British form of filmmaking that flourished in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Related to the "swinging London" films, these productions focused a bit on youth concerns, groovy music, and a psychedelic vibe. So basically, it's a British take on "trippy" filmmaking from the era of drugs and free love. The Flesh and Blood Show goes for that same feeling. The seaside theater is putting on a musical revue, both to bolster spirits but also to attract a less staid crowd. The film itself is also full of bold colors that heighten the "reality" of the film, giving the already atypical locations. It's also pretty obvious that the film's final, 3D sequence is intended is intended to cap off the film's "trip."
The other group that's going to appreciate it are slasher completists. Though the film is more mystery than later slashers would become, The Flesh and Blood Show definitely has its share of murders. The gore isn't up to later standards, either, but for 1972 there is a surprising amount of blood spilled. It's all a bit over the top (the theater of the Grand Guignol style is mentioned). More slasher-like, though, is the prevalence of nudity. Pretty much everyone with breasts gets naked at some point, increasing the atmosphere of sexual license, and no doubt trying to make up for the lack of violence.
Redemption offers fans a strong The Flesh and Blood Show (Blu-ray) release. The film is given a 1.78:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer that looks pretty good. The print used for the transfer isn't pristine—there's a bit of dirt and some light damage—but overall the detail is strong, especially the well-rendered grain. Colors are appropriately bold and bright, and black levels stay consistent and deep. For audio we get an LPCM 2.0 mono track that is good, but sounds its age. Dialogue is fine, but detail, especially in the music, isn't particularly impressive. That's the fault of the source, though, not this audio track.
The film's main extra is an interview with director Pete Walker about the film and his work. We also get two different presentations of the film's final sequence in 3D. There's a traditional anaglyph version (bring your own red/blue glasses) as well as a stereoscopic version for those with 3D TVs.
The Flesh and Blood Show is unlikely to appeal to the average viewer. It's a mystery film at its core, and not a particularly original one at that. The rest of it is just window-dressing, a bit of flash to attract the punters. Unless you already have an interest in the genre or the era the film was made, chances are the cheap production values will hinder more than help the film along.
Some might quibble about the lack of original framing on the transfer. The film was, it seems, shot in something like 1.66:1, but in any case the 1.78:1 is unlikely to be the OAR. It doesn't really seem to hurt the framing any, but sticklers might be disappointed. The inclusion of the two different 3D (in technique, not content) is a nice bonus, but the lack of included glasses is a bit of a disappointment.
The Flesh and Blood Show is an interesting historical oddity. A bit more sensational than the average British murder mystery and an obvious precursor to the slasher, it'll be of interest to fans of those genres. Though this release isn't jam-packed, it features a solid presentation and a couple of nice extras.
Goofy, but not guilty.
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