I have not found many slashers from Britain. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, just that I haven’t come across that many. The Flesh and Blood Show has elements that we’ve come to know as slasher tropes: someone is killed but their body is hidden and a note is left behind saying they’ve gone, for example. Also, the killer seems to be punishing the promiscuous, and is triggered by the memory of a wrong done to them many years ago. And the victims and potential victims are all brought to a location by a ruse.
But what the Brits seem to do best is the murder mystery, and The Flesh and Blood Show weighs heavily on that side too. I didn’t guess who the killer was until the big reveal, and what I thought was a plot hole was intended to throw me off in the end. It’s cold, there’s some tea drinking, the cops are suspicious of the wrong person, and those who do escape the killer do so with a ruse of their own rather than simply running faster and killing more quickly. Add to the mystery a slight send-up of the acting profession in general and a large dose of hippy-dippy exploitation and you’ve got an engaging and unique film.
Seven actors and a director have been hired to go to a seaside town to rehearse an improvised horror play by a mysterious company. The old theater, long abandoned, has a bit of a gruesome history. Before the first night is through someone begins picking them off. Is it the jerk who likes practical jokes too much? The jealous lesbian having lost her bisexual lover to a man? The girl who is late? The girl who is mysteriously hired too quickly after the first murder? Or maybe one of the few residents of the nearly empty town?
I have to say that usually the slasher/mystery type of film does not scare me, but there was one scene here which was unnerving. One of the girls runs out onto the pier at midnight in a snit and comes across what appears to be a bum on a bench in a gazebo. The “bum” is covered in a cloak and looks pathetic and cold, but as the girl shows concern, he or she begins sliding towards her on the bench. Then the mysterious person pounces and, while brandishing a knife, rips off her clothes. It’s an uncomfortable moment.
If there’s one flaw in The Flesh and Blood Show it’s that there isn’t enough blood. There certainly is enough flesh, though, if there is such a thing. Some of you, I’m sure, would say there isn’t. I wonder, too, whether people really were as quick to jump into bed with someone they’ve only exchanged a hello with, as the flower child exploitation flicks of the early 70s would have us think. Free love. Don’t bank on it, baby.