Blu-ray Review: Pete Walker’s FOR MEN ONLY and SCHOOL FOR SEX

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SHOCK takes a peek at a pair of early non-horror Pete Walker flicks.

British filmmaker Pete Walker has long been saddled with the weight of being called an “exploitation” director and, certainly, an argument can be made for that. But Walker’s brand of trash is far more refined than the bulk of his peers. Seventies made films like HOUSE OF WHIPCORD, THE CONFESSIONAL, FRIGHTMARE and THE COMEBACK certainly milk sensational themes in order to affect their audience and often rely on then-extreme violence for their superficial frissons. Yet beneath the blood and lurid elements often lurked  very serious socio-politcial undercurrents; a caustic condemnation of the justice system (HOUSE OF WHIPCORD), England’s treatment of the mentally ill and the destructive impact of family secrets long kept (FRIGHTMARE) and the corruption of the Church (THE CONFESSIONAL aka HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN).

Walker’s horror films are highly regarded and celebrated for very, very good reasons indeed not the least of which is his employ of the wonderful actress Sheila Keith.

But the pair of films collected here on Kino Lorber’s Walker double shot Blu-ray are not representative of the director at his best.  More like the director at his breast!

FOR MEN ONLY and SCHOOL FOR SEX represent the early day of Walker’s career, back when he WAS purely an exploitation filmmaker trying to ride the tide of the popular British nudie film. Unlike the more carnival-fueled sexploitation films coming from the U.S. at that time, the British sex film was a far more “laddish” affair, with more complicated plots to gel the scenes of ample jiggle together.

Perhaps complicated isn’t the right word as FOR MEN ONLY (1967) is a light, goofy tale of a young man who promises his jealous girlfriend he’ll stop lusting after other ladies, going so far as to getting a job with the Puritan Magazine Group, a publisher that positions itself as pious but is actually a front for a dirty adult entertainment mag. Clocking in at 40 minutes long, FOR MEN ONLY goes down easy and is vaguely amusing. But it’s dumb and terribly written (Walker himself agrees that he should have let someone else write the script in the great supplemental interview on the back end of the disc) and it feels like a less funny episode of Benny Hill without the fast motion and “Yackety Sax”.

SCHOOL FOR SEX is even worse, an 80 minute feature that was a smash hit in 1969 but makes the thankfully brief FOR MEN ONLY look like the BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN. In it, a hustling aristocrat starts up a finishing school for young women, a front so he can teach the girls how to bilk rich bastards out of their life savings. Tons of tits make appearances in this colorful but tedious romp that is good for curious peeks by Walker completists only.

Though a mere whisper of the serious, sophisticated films to come, it’s still kind of cool to have such pristine versions of these early skin flicks available and KL’s Blu-ray also throws in an hour of Walker’s earlier 8mm stag loops (silent and silly) and saucier scenes from SCHOOL shot for the French market.

If only Walker had cast Sheila Keith in these films, we’d like them better. Sheila made everything better…

FOR MEN ONLY and SCHOOL FOR SEX releases on May 17th but you can pre-order your copy now by clicking the link.