Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Pete Walker Collection

One of Britain's great genre filmmakers Pete Walker finally gets some much-needed respect here in the States via Redemption's terrific new Blu-ray box set, The Pete Walker Collectionwhich hits stores on November 20th. While the films in this collection, Die Screaming, Marianne (1971), House of Whipcord (1974), Schizo (1976) and The Comeback (1978), have all been available on DVD before in the States they have never looked quite as incredible as they do on this new Kino Lorber/Redemption collection.

The essential Walker works gathered together for this new box-set were previously released by both Image entertainment (as part of their EuroShock line) and Shriek Show (who assembled their own box several years back).  While those releases were notable in that they did bring some of Walker's most shocking visions to Region 1 DVD, the prints utilized left a lot to be desired and were in some instances quite dismal.  While the Shriek Show releases did include some valuable commentary tracks with Walker the films in general looked too dark and grimy and sounded too muffled and muddy.

The new high-def tranfers of Die Screaming, Marianne, House of Whipcord, Schizo and The Comeback are real wonders to behold.  Remastered in HD from the original negatives, these Walker classics have never looked quite as colorful or held such a visual allure.  While some print damage is apparent in each film these new transfers represent a huge visual and audio upgrade from those older Image and Shriek Show DVDs.  House of Whipcord especially benefits as we can now actually see what is happening on screen in some of the films darker and more notorious moments.  

The supplements that have been gathered together for this new Pete Walker Collection are also quite superb.    The original audio commentary tracks for House of Whipcord, Die Screaming Marianne and The Comeback have all been thankfully carried over from the older releases and are all highly recommended.  Walker is an intelligent, well-spoken and witty artist and all of these tracks are a pleasure to listen to.  Schizo is the only film here lacking a commentary, which is a shame as it is such a strong film.  Original trailers also accompany each film and the only older extras not carried over from the Shriek Show releases are some 'photo galleries', which honestly weren't all that essential in the first place.

New to this set are several fascinating recently shot interviews with Pete Walker conducted by the great filmmaker Elijah Drenner.  Each chat gives us some great insight into the films, Walker's style and how demanding it can be operating as an independent filmmaker working with lower than needed budgets.  Each talk helps solidify Walker's place as a true independent, and visionary, and Drenner should be quite proud of his work here.

The Pete Walker Collection continues Kino and Redemption's major winning streak for the classic exploitation and horror film market.  Walker's works are now at a home with a company in charge of other maverick filmmakers like Rollin, Bava and Franco and genre-film fans should be very grateful.  The Pete Walker Collection is yet another essential purchase and would make an ideal stocking-stuffer for the cult-film lover in your life, or as an early Christmas present for yourself!

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