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House of Whipcord / quad / UK

12.12.14

Poster Poster
Title
House of Whipcord
AKA
Stag Model Slaughter (USA - reissue)
Year of Film
1974
Director
Pete Walker
Starring
Barbara Markham, Patrick Barr, Ray Brooks, Ann Michelle, Sheila Keith, Dorothy Gordon, Robert Tayman, Ivor Salter, Karan David, Celia Quicke
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Barbara Markham, Patrick Barr, Ray Brooks, Ann Michelle, Sheila Keith, Dorothy Gordon, Robert Tayman, Ivor Salter, Karan David, Celia Quicke,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1974
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30" x 39 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
... and no one escaped...

This is the original UK quad for the release of House of Whipcord from the British director, producer and writer Pete Walker, who specialised in exploitation pictures during the 1960s and 1970s. Walker started out making shoestring budget sexploitation pictures, including School for Sex that were often relative hits in the UK, which worked out well for him since his films were almost always self-financed and thus most of the profits were his to keep and plough into the next feature. In the early 1970s, Walker grew tired of feeding the ‘dirty mack brigade’ and turned his hand to horror.

Whipcord is certainly one of the directors most memorable films and had a plot that was all but guaranteed to rile certain sections of the British press at the time of release. The film begins in London and focuses on young French model Ann-Marie Di Verney (Penny Irving) who has moved to the capital and has started to pose in nude photoshoots. One evening she is seduced by a mysterious character named, rather ominously Mark E. Desade (played by Robert Tayman) and a relationship develops between the pair. Sometime later Mark invites Ann-Marie to ‘visit his parents’ who live out in the country and only when she arrives does she realise that it was all a ruse to get Ann-Marie into a secret illegal prison which is being ruled over by his unhinged mother Mrs Wakehurst (Barbara Markham) and three ‘guards’, including the sadistic Walker (a memorable performance from regular collaborator Sheila Keith – note the character name!)

Mrs Wakehurst is a former school mistress whose corrupt regime led one of her charges to commit suicide but, believing she did nothing wrong and that lax morals led to the corruption in the school, she seduced the judge who was trying her, Justice Bailey (Patrick Barr), and managed to escape sentence. She then persuaded him to set up what he believed would be a private correctional institute in which ‘girls with loose morals’ would be ‘reeducated’ properly and then let back into the world. As Ann Marie and other inmates discover, the truth is far more horrifying.

The film was critically mauled over here but did solid business in cinemas and was later released in US cinemas through AIP. I’m unsure who is responsible for the design and artwork on this poster so if you have any ideas please get in touch.

The original trailer can be viewed here.

Vampire Circus / quad / UK

06.02.14

Poster Poster

Iconic Vic Fair artwork graces this UK quad for the release of Hammer Films‘ 1972 horror Vampire Circus. Released at a time when the popularity of British gothic horror tales was on the wane, particularly when compared against the more explicit, contemporary horrors coming out of Hollywood (Rosemary’s Baby and later The Exorcist), the film nevertheless managed to stand out from a glut of other films produced by the studio around the same time. A decent script, typically excellent production design and a raft of quality British thespians all help to make Vampire Circus one of the more memorable films to be produced by the House of Horror before its first demise picked up pace a couple of years later

Set in a small village in the studio’s customary ‘mittel-Europe’ sometime in the 19th century, a lengthy pre-credits sequence shows a young girl being led into the castle of vampire Count Mitterhaus by Anna (Domini Blythe), the wife of local schoolmaster Albert Müller (Laurence Payne). Soon after the girl is murdered by the vampire, a group of villagers led by Müller storm the castle, stake the Count and burn the castle to the ground. Anna manages to drag the dying vampire to the crypt beneath the castle and before he perishes he curses the villagers and promises that their children will die to give him back his life. Fast-forward fifteen years, the village is beset by a plague and blockaded by the authorities with the miserable villagers fearing that this is the Count’s doing.

One day the eponymous travelling troupe arrives, having apparently snuck past the blockades, led by a mysterious gypsy woman (Adrienne Corri) and containing a ragtag bunch of performers, including a mischievous clown dwarf, a set of flying twins, an erotic tiger dancer (as depicted on this poster) and Emil, a shape-shifting artiste. At first the villagers are happy to be entertained by the circus as it gives them a reprieve from their misery, but it soon becomes clear that the gang have an ulterior motive for being there. Before long the Count’s dying promise is being kept by Emil, who it turns out is a ‘kinsman’ of Mitterhaus, and the leaders of the village must battle to try to stop the murder of their children and the resurrection of the cursed Count. It’s a well-paced film and certainly a stand-out feature in Hammer’s output of the early 1970s, only let down by some dodgy special effects, which can be explained by a curtailed production period and the dwindling budgets of the time.

During my interview with Vic Fair that was published at the end of 2013 I asked the artist about his work on the poster and this is an excerpt from that article (which also features an image of the original sketch created for the poster):

‘I enjoyed working on the quad I designed for Vampire Circus. I’d wanted to design something that might have been used to advertise an actual circus. The animals on there were pretty much copied directly from a children’s book, as I really didn’t have that much time to work on it. I thought they looked quite amusing, since they’re not exactly anatomically correct portraits of tigers and lions! I also had fun sneaking in the hidden male members, which was really just meant as a bit of a tease towards certain people behind the scenes. I can’t believe I got away with it really.’

To see the other posters I’ve collected that were designed by Vic click here.

Note that this copy came from Vic’s personal archive and it is signed in the bottom right-hand corner.

Vampire Circus / 30×40 / USA

29.07.13

Poster Poster

The taglines on this US 30×40 left cinema-goers in no doubt as to the kind of film they were in for with Hammer Films‘ 1972 horror Vampire Circus. Released at a time when the popularity of British gothic horror tales was on the wane, particularly when compared against the more explicit, contemporary horrors coming out of Hollywood (Rosemary’s Baby and later The Exorcist), the film nevertheless managed to stand out from a glut of other films produced by the studio around the same time. A decent script, typically excellent production design and a raft of quality British thespians all help to make Vampire Circus one of the more memorable films to be produced by the House of Horror before its first demise picked up pace a couple of years later

Set in a small village in the studio’s customary ‘mittel-Europe’ sometime in the 19th century, a lengthy pre-credits sequence shows a young girl being led into the castle of vampire Count Mitterhaus by Anna (Domini Blythe), the wife of local schoolmaster Albert Müller (Laurence Payne). Soon after the girl is murdered by the vampire, a group of villagers led by Müller storm the castle, stake the Count and burn the castle to the ground. Anna manages to drag the dying vampire to the crypt beneath the castle and before he perishes he curses the villagers and promises that their children will die to give him back his life. Fast-forward fifteen years, the village is beset by a plague and blockaded by the authorities with the miserable villagers fearing that this is the Count’s doing.

One day the eponymous travelling troupe arrives, having apparently snuck past the blockades, led by a mysterious gypsy woman (Adrienne Corri) and containing a ragtag bunch of performers, including a mischievous clown dwarf, a set of flying twins, an erotic tiger dancer (as depicted on this poster) and Emil, a shape-shifting artiste. At first the villagers are happy to be entertained by the circus as it gives them a reprieve from their misery, but it soon becomes clear that the gang have an ulterior motive for being there. Before long the Count’s dying promise is being kept by Emil, who it turns out is a ‘kinsman’ of Mitterhaus, and the leaders of the village must battle to try to stop the murder of their children and the resurrection of the cursed Count. It’s a well-paced film and certainly a stand-out feature in Hammer’s output of the early 1970s, only let down by some dodgy special effects, which can be explained by a curtailed production period and the dwindling budgets of the time.

I’m unsure who is responsible for the artwork on this American poster, which depicts Emil in all his fang-baring glory, so if you have any ideas please get in touch.