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House on Straw Hill (Blu-ray/DVD combo)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An Extreme Case Of Writers Block Oct. 18 2013
By William Amazzini - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The archivists at Severin Films have restored and possibly saved Writer/Director James Kenelm Clarke's brilliant 'THE HOUSE ON STRAW HILL' aka 'EXPOSE' aka 'TRAUMA'-1976 for Horror and exploitation fans. Banned in England from 1984 to 1997 being branded a notorious video nasty when that insanity was running rampant on the video industry at that time, its great to view this restored version to prove their was really nothing to get the holier than thou politicians knickers into such a snit. Cult Euro actor Udo Kier portrays a hyperactive novelist who goes into seclusion at his summer countryside cottage to scribe his latest novel and decides to hire a typist to help him with his writers block but strange things begin to occur. The underrated actress Linda Hayden is at the peak of her form as the sensual siren typist with an ulterior motive and Fiona Richmond plays Kier's dominated mistress. I don't want to give away the sum of the plot, suffice it to say that this film is the closest that British Cinema came to making their own take on the Italian Giallo. Kier seems to be dubbed but does quite well in his performance coming off his cult status in both Andy Warhol's productions of Director Paul Morrissey's 'BLOOD FOR DRACULA' and 'FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN' both 1973. It is Linda Hayden who steals the show and gives one of her best performances trying to use her sex pot image to enhance the tragedy. If you want to see how underrated she truly was, view this film and her performance as Angel Blake in Director Piers Haggard's masterpiece of Pagan superstition 'THE BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW'-1970 (c'mon Severin Films, please give this a digital release in this country already!). Clarke brings an atmospheric sense of dread to the proceedings showing off his filmmaking skills at the climax where we have Hayden and Richmond doing a girl on girl scene interspersed with Kier having his brakes fail in his auto as he speeds uncontrollably on a secluded lane. This release has a special third DVD only disc limited to 3,000 units which includes both parts of a documentary made by Anchor Bay/Blue Underground called 'BAN THE SADIST VIDEOS' which is far more chilling than the main feature. It shows the history of the madness that befell (and still persists) the film industry in Britain in the eighties. Also included on the disc is a separate documentary called 'CENSORS WORKING OVERTIME' written, edited, and narrated by David Flint which adds to the censorship madness in modern times. Other essential features include an excellent audio commentary with the director and Producer Brian Smedley-Aston who have great stories on the shoot. The jewel in the crown special feature is a 2003 interview entitled 'AN ANGEL FOR SATAN' with actress Linda Hayden who still looks stunning as she talks about all of her screen roles and wrongly dismisses this film as her worst experience although she does give a good reason why. Last but not least, there is a trailer with the 'EXPOSE' title which has no dialogue but montages scenes of the film over composer Steven Gray's haunting music score. The transfer is from three remaining negatives which had extensive water damage and faded colors but Severin deserves kudos for the restoration in a 1.85 aspect ratio. I viewed the Blu-Ray edition and it was awesome to see what they have achieved. Recommended to lovers of British Gothic Cinema, its great to see a film made at the time when British Directors such as Pete Walker('FRIGHTMARE'-1974) and Joseph Larraz('VAMPYRES'-1974) were combining Horror and Sex in an extremely erotic manner and were prematurely silenced when the industry declined. After all these years, 'HOUSE ON STRAW HILL' still packs a punch as Severin Films gives us the complete 84 minute version. The price may be steep but you do get a nice package whether you own a DVD or Blu-Ray player. Thank you, Severin Films.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The extras are better than the movie. June 30 2014
By RJMacReady - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I'll give this a generous two stars for the movie and four for the presentation. The plot is pretty threadbare and there are some absurd plot twists. It's closer to soft porn than a horror/thriller really, as the characters have a frequent tendency to get physical with each other. At one point Linda Hayden's character starts kissing Fiona Richmond despite the total lack of any kind of attraction or flirtation between them up to that point, while her boyfriend is in the house, and she enthusiastically goes along with it. It's that kind of movie.

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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A long awaited addition to the video nasty releases Nov. 9 2013
By Jyri Luoma - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The 3-disc limited edition includes the great documentary "Ban the Sadist Videos". Also the feature film itself is uncut and from the best possible sources available. The Linda Hayden interview is informative. It is a worthwhile release, especially for people into 'video nasties'.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Good movie poor use of blu ray Jan. 31 2014
By Jay Woelfel - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
This is a mood piece really, the mood is perverse sex and exploitation. Not just as a film but the characters exploit each other. There isn't much dialogue and it's probably a well photographed movie, but....

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.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Terrific Exploitation Classic! Oct. 16 2013
By John Rieber - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
Kudos to Severin Films for bringing this cult classic back! "House On Straw Hill" is a classic example of mid-70's european exploitation thrillers. Udo Kier is great as a writer seeking help with his novel...needless to say, a LOT more than that happens...well worth the effort to see, especially because Severin has included some amazing extras as on my link for the entire story of the terrific material included on this blu-ray release.


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