House on Straw Hill (Blu-ray/DVD combo)
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Banned in Britain for thirty years, The House on Straw Hill is a shockingly violent and erotic tale of seduction, brutality and revenge. Cult movie icon Udo Kier (Mark of the Devil, The Theatre Bizarre) stars as a successful novelist suffering from writer's block, who rents a country cottage in the hope of finding inspiration. But the arrival of a sensual secretary, played by Linda Hayden (Blood on Satan's Claw, Taste the Blood of Dracula) sets in motion of chain of events that culminate in an unrestrained explosion of sex and savagery. Also known as Expose and condemned as a Video Nasty in the UK, this sleazy classic from Brian Smedley-Aston (Vampyres) and co-starring the notorious Fiona Richmond - 'Britain's No.1 sex symbol'- is now fully restored from the only uncut elements and is available for the first time in the US with brand new extras!
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Fiona Richmond was a "glamour model" and seems right at home here, but Hayden and Kier really seem to be slumming it. In the interview with Hayden included in the extras, she spends quite a bit of time bashing the movie, even saying it's the only movie she's ashamed of making. And she worked mostly in B movies that were often lacking in quality.
This is one of those discs where the extras actually were more interesting than the movie, especially if you can get a copy with the documentary about the Video Nasties scare. I'd heard of the nasties scare but had no idea how far the censors went, even raiding the homes of some movie collectors to make examples of them.
It really made me appreciate being an American. Yes, there's censorship here too, but it's never come close to going that far in my lifetime. The MPAA can be bad, but they don't have the ability to ban a movie outright and when it comes to the home video market, there isn't much government censorship. That's mostly limited to stuff that involves crimes being committed, like child pornography. Usually what happens here is studios will force filmmakers to make cuts in order to get a certain rating in order to play in more theaters or have a larger audience. The MPAA is actually not a government agency - the government's not directly involved. It's more a case of self censorship by the theaters and studios. And when movies are released on home videos there's no government board that reviews the movies to decide what they think is or isn't acceptable. You'll frequently see uncensored, unrated versions of movies, and no one has to worry about running them by the government before putting them out.
It's almost impossible to believe that any clean up was done on this transfer. Even if these were the best prints they could find then why are there verticle scratches--which can be removed almost automatically nowadays, and film reel change punch holes which can also be removed. And the color timing you almost have to say, what color timing? The menu explains the prints used were water damaged and they certainly are but though that would be hard to correct it's very hard to believe much time was spent trying to get the best out of bad materials.
It's just a warning, yes the film is worth your time, but expect a drive in quality print not something you'll be thrilled to see in 1080.
Extras also are distractingly poor looking, like they came from an old video master or dub of a master. So sorry I have to say find a copy for as little as you can spend on it, then enjoy an obscure movie you'll then want to see somehow someday come out in a much better form.