6.5/10
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24 user 33 critic

The Confessional (1976)

House of Mortal Sin (original title)
R | | Horror | March 1977 (USA)
A troubled young girl goes to confession at the local church. Unfortunately, the sexually frustrated priest she confesses to becomes obsessed with her. At first, the priest stalks the girl,... See full summary »

Director:

Pete Walker

Writers:

David McGillivray (screenplay), Pete Walker (from an original story by)
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Sharp ... Father Xavier Meldrum
Susan Penhaligon ... Jenny Welch
Stephanie Beacham ... Vanessa Welch
Norman Eshley ... Father Bernard Cutler
Sheila Keith ... Miss Brabazon
Hilda Barry Hilda Barry ... Mrs. Meldrum
Stewart Bevan Stewart Bevan ... Terry Wyatt (as Stuart Bevan)
Julia McCarthy Julia McCarthy ... Mrs. Davey
John Yule John Yule ... Robert (as Jon Yule)
Bill Kerr ... Mr. Davey
Victor Winding Victor Winding ... Dr. Gaudio
Jack Allen Jack Allen ... GP
Kim Butcher ... Valerie Davey
Ivor Salter ... Gravedigger
Andrew Sachs ... Man in Church
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Storyline

A troubled young girl goes to confession at the local church. Unfortunately, the sexually frustrated priest she confesses to becomes obsessed with her. At first, the priest stalks the girl, but later it is revealed that he will stop at nothing, including blackmail and murder, just to get close to her. Written by John Hilton

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Tortured by desires his vows forbid...master of a house of mortal sin!

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

March 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Confessional See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to a book on Peter Walker by steve Chinball, Lee J Cobb and Richard Greene were on the ideas list for the lead See more »

Goofs

Stephanie Beacham can be seen to blink after her character (Vanessa Welch) has been strangled to death. See more »

Quotes

Miss Brabazon: [to Meldrum's infirm mother] He's gone out again, I'm afraid... you're all alone again... with me.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Courting Controversy (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
If you can't trust your local priest....who can you trust?!
22 May 2006 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Even though the majority of his movies haven't gone on to win vast acclaim or classic status, any fan of cinema would have to admit that British horror maestro Pete Walker is one of the most fascinating directors of the seventies. House of Mortal Sin follows the common Pete Walker theme of hypocrisy in an institution; and this time it's the church that gets lampooned. The film does feel like an all too obvious attempt to drum up some controversy, but it's all so well done that it's easy to ignore this fact and just enjoy the twisted imagination of Pete Walker and scriptwriter David McGillivray. Catholic priests are always above suspicion due their high moral ground in society, and so the idea that one of them could go off the rails and abuse his privileges is as intriguing as it is frightening. The story follows Father Xavier Meldrum; a priest who tapes the confessions of his parishioners and then uses them for blackmailing purposes! And he isn't content to stop there, as if the blackmail doesn't go to plan - he isn't morally above murder!

The film is a little overlong and slightly overindulgent at times; but Pete Walker paces the plot well, and although at least ten minutes could have been shaved from the movie; it never gets boring. Walker is great at creating atmosphere, and through ugly cinematography and downbeat locations, the director ensures that there is nothing pleasant about the movie. The murder scenes are graphic in a typically seventies fashion, although the talented director never lets the blood overtake the plot, and the murder scenes are an event within the movie; rather than the plot being tied around the gore. The film takes influence from a range of sources, including the slasher sub-genre (most notably Psycho), as well as the Italian Giallo (the black gloves towards the end being a particular highlight) and even Walker's own previous efforts. As usual, Walker pulls great performances out of his older actors. Anthony Sharp is suitably sinister in the lead role, and also manages to retain his edge of authority. Hilda Barry gives the film the right amount of horror as the mother, while Walker regular Sheila Keith rounds off the cast in a convincingly macabre role. On the whole; this may not be as great as House of Whipcord, but House of Mortal Sin is further proof that Pete Walker really knows how to make his audience think and comes recommended.


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