House of Mortal Sin

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House of Mortal Sin
House of Mortal Sin.jpg
Original release ad
Directed by Pete Walker
Produced by Pete Walker
Written by David McGillivray
Starring Anthony Sharp
Susan Penhaligon
Stephanie Beacham
Norman Eshley
Sheila Keith
Music by Stanley Myers
Cinematography Peter Jessop
Edited by John Black
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date
February, 1976 (UK)
Running time
104 min.
Country UK
Language English

House of Mortal Sin (also known as The Confessional and The Confessional Murders) is a low budget 1976 British horror film directed by Pete Walker. It was scripted by David McGillivray from a story by Walker.[1] Its plot concerns a deranged priest who takes it upon himself to punish his parishioners for their moral transgressions.[2]

The poster tag line read: "tortured by desires his vows forbid... master of a house of mortal sin!" [3]


Troubled young Jenny (Susan Penhaligon) enters the confessional of her local church, and bares her soul to elderly priest Father Meldrum (Anthony Sharp). Apparently obsessed with her, Meldrum begins to stalk the distressed Jenny and blackmail her with a tape recording of her confession. Seeing himself as the dispenser of "divine justice", Meldrum tortures his victims with guilt, murdering those in his way with such diverse means as incense burners and poisoned holy wafers.


Critical reception[edit]

  • "McGillivray’s script is full of inventive ideas which were obviously meant to shock and stir up controversy. Having the villainous murderer a repressed and crazed Catholic priest in modern times brought a new and different kind of monster to the catalog of British horror, and he’s marvelously played by Anthony Sharp. A lapsed Catholic in real life, Walker uses the film as a comment on organized religion, as extreme and satirical as it may be…” ~ George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In [4]
  • "Much criticism has been leveled against this film for its unabashed attacks on Catholicism, but it's really Walker's trademark amoral approach to filmmaking that elicits a strong urge to take a hot bath after viewing." ~ Cavett Binion, Allmovie [5]
  • "a disappointment, although it has its moments...The script relies too much on mild sacrilege for its effects, instead of concentrating on more interesting aspects of religious repression." ~ Time Out [6]
  • "I ended up being quite impressed with this one; it's one of those horror movies that tries to be about something more than just scaring people." ~ Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings & Ramblings[7]
  • "the way the creepier, suffocating aspects of religion are brought out is bold and effective. As a whole, it's a callous, low budget and grey-toned work, but stays with the viewer longer than slicker horrors then or since." ~ Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image [8]
  • "well-executed and maintains a dark interest throughout, supported by interesting performances (especially Sheila Keith as Meldrum's devoted love)." ~ The Terror Trap[9]
  • "Walker fails to bring any sensibility, other than the merely exploitative, to the grotesque material, this must be considered pretty irredeemable stuff, even for a horror film." ~ TV Guide [10]
  • "there are more pros than con with "House of Mortal Sin," but Walker feels constipated with this effort, unsure if he wants to court controversy or make a cracking chiller." ~ Brian Orndorf,[11]
  • "A hugely underrated shocker from cult director Pete Walker, who alone saved the British cinema of the 1970s from complete terror blandness with a series of Home County horrors that included House of Whipcord and Frightmare. Anthony Sharp gives an extraordinary performance...A serious look at the theme of a respectable public person using their position to pass judgement on those they see as corrupt, done with elegance, wit and purposely indignant bad taste." ~ Alan Jones, Radio Times [12]


External links[edit]