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The Confessional (1976) More at IMDbPro »House of Mortal Sin (original title)


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David McGillivray (screenplay)
Pete Walker (from an original story by)
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Release Date:
March 1977 (USA) See more »
Tortured by desires his vows forbid...master of a house of mortal sin!
A troubled young girl goes to confession at the local church. Unfortunately, the sexually frustrated priest she confesses to becomes obsessed with her... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 nomination See more »
(6 articles)
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User Reviews:
Underrated Pete Walker horror classic! See more (19 total) »


  (in credits order)
Anthony Sharp ... Father Xavier Meldrum

Susan Penhaligon ... Jenny Welch

Stephanie Beacham ... Vanessa Welch
Norman Eshley ... Father Bernard Cutler
Sheila Keith ... Miss Brabazon
Hilda Barry ... Mrs. Meldrum
Stewart Bevan ... Terry Wyatt (as Stuart Bevan)
Julia McCarthy ... Mrs. Davey
John Yule ... Robert (as Jon Yule)
William Henry Kerr ... Mr. Davey (as Bill Kerr)
Victor Winding ... Dr. Gaudio
Jack Allen ... GP
Kim Butcher ... Valerie Davey
Ivor Salter ... Gravedigger

Andrew Sachs ... Man in Church
Jane Hayward ... Nurse Fowler
Mervyn Johns ... Father Duggan
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Melinda Clancy ... Girl at Presbytery (uncredited)
David Corti ... Altar Boy (uncredited)
Anthony Hennessey ... Policeman (uncredited)
Austin King ... Boy at Presbytery (uncredited)
Nicholas Power ... Altar Boy (uncredited)

Directed by
Pete Walker 
Writing credits
David McGillivray (screenplay)

Pete Walker (from an original story by)

Produced by
Pete Walker .... producer
Original Music by
Stanley Myers 
Cinematography by
Peter Jessop (photographed by)
Film Editing by
John Black 
Art Direction by
Chris Burke 
Makeup Department
George Partleton .... make-up supervision
Pearl Rashbass .... make-up
Production Management
Robert Fennell .... production manager
Matt McCarthy .... post-production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
James Hamilton .... second assistant director
Brian Lawrence .... first assistant director
Sound Department
Tony Anscombe .... dubbing mixer
Chris Munro .... boom operator
Peter O'Connor .... sound recordist
Alan Brett .... sound editor (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Colin Bucksey .... follow focus
Ted Davis .... gaffer
Tony Imi .... additional photography
John Metcalfe .... camera operator
Peter Sinclair .... camera operator
John Simmons .... camera assistant (uncredited)
Ray Snooks .... second electrician (uncredited)
Music Department
Stanley Myers .... conductor
Other crew
Leigh Taylor .... production secretary


Additional Details

Also Known As:
"House of Mortal Sin" - UK (original title)
"The Confessional: House of Mortal Sin" - USA (DVD title)
See more »
104 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:R | UK:15 | UK:X (original rating) | UK:18 (video rating) | USA:R

Did You Know?

Last film of Mervyn Johns.See more »
Revealing mistakes: Stephanie Beacham can be seen to blink after her character (Vanessa Welch) has been strangled to death.See more »
Miss Brabazon:[to Meldrum's infirm mother] He's gone out again, I'm afraid... you're all alone again... with me.See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Underrated Pete Walker horror classic!, 22 October 2009
Author: manchester_england2004 from Manchester, England, UK

HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN (aka THE CONFESSIONAL MURDERS) is a highly underrated British horror movie directed by Pete Walker.

I bought this movie as part of the Pete Walker Collection, a wonderful coffin shaped boxset containing this movie, along with FRIGHTMARE, THE HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN, THE HOUSE OF WHIPCORD and DIE SCREAMING MARIANNE. The said boxset is loaded with extras and is a must have for any fan of the director's movies.

In this movie Pete Walker continues to demonstrate that he, along with the equally great director, Norman J. Warren, were the natural successors to Hammer, Amicus and Tigon. The three companies in question had dominated the British horror movie industry for over a decade, having made some truly superb productions. All three had ceased to produce horror movies at this point, paving the way for the two mentioned excellent directors to make independent movies now rightly appreciated as minor classics of low-budget cinema.

HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN contains the most interesting premise found in a Pete Walker movie - the consequence of using religion to suppress sexual emotion.

The plot involves a troubled young girl, Jenny, attending confession at the local church for the first time. The priest she confesses to develops an obsession with her. He first blackmails her using the tape recording of the confession and then moves on to murder. As the priest's obsession grows, Jenny's family and friends choose to believe her word over that of a trusted figure of the community. Everyone thinks Jenny is going insane and only the viewer sees the truth. The tension reaches crescendo and erupts into a climax that refuses to take the easy route out.

In a rare moment for Walker, he puts atmosphere ahead of everything else in the horror aspect of this production.

Walker's technique for developing atmosphere in this movie is the use of dark, downbeat, seemingly claustrophobic locations that contain evil, and attract and trap unknowing victims before going in for the kill (pun intended).

Walker also borrows from the Italian "Giallo" movies, especially with the POV shots of an unseen killer as well as the black gloves.

The killing scenes are graphic as pointed out by other users, but they are tamer than those found in most of Walker's other movies, with little emphasis on gore or impact. This is made up for by the clear character-driven context they are presented in.

For dealing with the psychological aspects of the movie, Walker relies on the actors to carry the story. And there are superb actors here.

Anthony Sharp gives the best performance of his career as the sexually-frustrated priest. This is a significant departure from his usual supporting roles as an authority figure in the form of a government official. He shows us a very self-tormented man, indulging in self-pity due to guilt at his own choices, harbouring perverse desires and feeling resentful of his mother for persuading him to become a priest. In other scenes, he shows someone who is cold, heartless, twisted and merciless. At all times, he gives everyone except the viewer and his victims the impression of being the genuinely respectable man of the moral high ground that people in the community regard him as.

Susan Penhaligon gave an equally great performance as the troubled young girl, Jenny. Her fear and torment are conveyed perfectly. In addition, she gives her character a certain level of naiveté that makes both her character more convincing and the viewer sympathetic.

Sheila Keith, a veteran of Pete Walker's movies, gives another superb chilling performance. This time she plays the priest's housekeeper and takes care of his elderly mother. She is given one of the best lines in the movie and it can be found in the memorable quotes section.

On the downside, Stephanie Beacham is wasted in a throwaway role that fails to make sufficient use of her talent and charisma.

Another negative factor was the casting of Norman Eshley to play the role of the younger priest. Norman Eshley was great in the TV sitcom, GEORGE AND MILDRED, and is clearly great at playing roles in comedic settings elsewhere. But serious acting roles are not his forte.

Overall, HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN is a vastly underrated horror movie by Pete Walker. It is a must-see for all his fans and fans of British horror movies from the heyday of British cinema in the 1960s and 1970s.

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