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Worth a purchase for the extras despite cuts
on 18 December 2011
"The House on the Edge of the Park" has had an interesting history in the United Kingdom starting in 1981 when the British Board of Film Censorship (oops, I mean Classification) decided that whether or not we wanted to view the movie was to much of a decision for us humble Brits to make for ourselves, banning it outright. It was then released uncut on VHS by Skyline in October 1982, but quickly hit the video nasties list in July 1983. In 2002, Vipco released the movie on DVD and it passed through the BBFC with an 18 certificate and 11 minutes, 43 seconds of cuts/edits to rape, assault, the opening murder, the razor scene and when Alex bashes Tony's head against the table. This year, Shameless submitted the film to the BBFC and everyone was surprised that the cuts were massively reduced to one minute twenty seconds. Still, Shameless were not happy and appealed the decision to cuts to the rape scene stating the questionability of whether Lisa is enjoying her ordeal or not. They won, and "The House on the Edge of the Park" is now with us cut by just 48 seconds to the razor assault scene.
The synopsis from Shameless reads:
When Ruggero Deodato, the director of über-controversial "Cannibal Holocaust", teamed up with David Hess, the notorious "Krug" in "The Last House On The Left", their maverick talents exploded in the feat of unrelenting sleaze that is The House On The Edge Of The Park.
Alex (Hess) is a psychopath and his friend Ricky (Giovanni L. Radice) an easily led simpleton. When the unlikely pair is invited to an upscale house party where they are ridiculed by their debauched young hosts, Alex decides that he and his straight edged razor deserve some fun. Together the two streetwise punks take the unprepared partygoers on a journey of violence, debasement and forced sex. And that's before events turn really nasty...
The question most people ask about this film, having been disappointed by previous 'video nasties' is whether or not this film is as difficult to watch as previous BBFC comments suggest and I would say this... "The House on the Edge of the Park" is not supposed to be an 'enjoyable' film. You're supposed to gather hatred for David Hess' Alex and both hatred and sympathy for his retarded friend, Giovanni Radice's Ricky. You're supposed to be scared by them and by using extremities that could actually happen (no OTT masked killers here chasing teens), and with the underappreciated skills of Hess (RIP) and Radice, this film brings terror in spades and is one of the few films to make me squirm, not through it's violence and rape, but through the visual terror in the eyes of the characters and built-up tension through the storyline.
The acting throughout is certainly above average for the genre. David Hess is fantastic as Alex, and Radice does well in bringing a character who knows right from wrong but is under the dominance of Alex and hasn't got the capacity to not praise the guy who 'looks' after him into the mix. The 'victims', especially Cindy who appears later on in the movie, all put in great performances, acting through a range of emotions, from hatred, to terror and they make it truly believeable. The dialogue perhaps isn't the strongest, but for the story it needs to tell, it works quite well. The music is always tense at all the right moments and I found the overall scoring to be strong, although many see it as the weak point.
If you want to be terrified, and have become weary of the latest Hollywood remakes, I implore you to check this truly horrific experience out. It's a classic.
On disc-start up we get trailers for:
- "Four Flies on Grey Velvet"
- "Cannibal Holocaust"
- "Don't Torture a Duckling"
A theatrical trailer is also included.
Not available via the extras menu, but from the audio button on your remote is an isolated score which is always a welcome addition. I listened to this one from start to end whilst doing some paperwork, and certain parts of the tracks made me think of what they corresponded to in the film immediately. Cracking stuff.
When the film starts, we get an introduction from actor David Hess who plays Alex. It's very short and lasts seconds, unlike some introductions which give us a little bit of info and last several minutes. Nice to have, especially with Hess having died recently, but there's no info here.
The best extra on the disc is by far the "Ruggero Deodato and Giovanni Lombardo Radice Face the BBFC" documentary. Filmed at a cinema showing in the UK, it features film professor Martin Baker from Aberystwyth Uni who did a BBFC study entitled "Audiences and Receptions of Sexual Violence in Contemporary Cinema" (available from the BBFC in .pdf format). Deodato and Radice aren't it for anywhere near as close to the extensive running time, but Baker gives us some very good discussion points on exploitation cinema, censorship and the BBFC in general making this a much welcome addition to the disc and I have to give props to the BBFC for funding such exercises.
An interview with actor David Hess and Ruggero Deodato is surprisingly candid, with Hess telling us he got sacked from an agency at the beginning. Hess is a larger than life character and both him and Deodato give us some interesting tidbits on the film in general, the characterisation of Alex and his sociopathic issues (to put it lightly) and the differences in the classes of the characters.
Next up, "David Hess on Cutting The House" where Hess talks about the BBFC and his dealings with them, starting with his early bump with "Last House on the Left" and in detail for "The House on the Edge of the Park". Hess gives some well thought out opinions on what needs addressed and whether the cuts are required. In a great move by Shameless, the cuts descriptions are detailed at the end.
We finish with an out-of-place but very welcome pdf file "Introduction to Poliziotteschi".