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on 9 November 2013
Despite holding the crown as the only UK produced picture to be labled a video nasty in the ridiculous furor that plagued the home video industry in the early 1980s, House On Straw Hill or Expose as it was then known still remains relatively obscure known only to die hard fans of 70s Brit horror and those curious with the whole video nasty phenomenon who had the sole intention of seeing all of the movies that made the DPPs final list of 39 banned titles. Without its banner headlines and inclusion on the list i'm sure House On Straw Hill would have completely disappeared without trace.
The set up is simple with paranoid and quite obviously troubled first time best selling author Paul Martin(German star Udo Kier of Andy Warhol's Flesh For Frankenstein and Blood For Dracula fame)fresh off the overwhelming success off his first novel(which he may have or not have written) who has hit a serious case of writers block with his new work of art despite residing away from it all in a secluded picturesque cottage. Even a few bouts of kinky hanky panky with his attractive girlfriend Suzanne(70s sex starlet Fiona Richmond)do nothing to cure his dilemma maybe even working as a distraction so she is subsequently ushered away to leave the master at work. Added to that the pressure of a tight deadline and high intensions from the publisher his agent hires him a secretary and typist with whom he can dictate his follow up work. The arrival of Paul's new hired help at the local village station station in the form of the beautiful Linda(The Blood On Satan's Claws Linda Hayden) spurns the interest of two local ruffians(80s TV favourite Karl Howman and future stuntman and Harrison Ford body double Vic Armstrong) who are soon dispatched by Paul utilising some very impressive fisty cuffs. Paul drives Linda back to cottage keen to carry on his work but it soon becomes clear that she has a darker ulterior motive which I won't give away here as its the main plot twist to the whole movie. The arrival of the two hoodlums who Paul humiliated back in the village sparks the onslaught of violence and also proves how unhinged Linda's character is.
Marketed as an erotic thriller or a "sexy horror film" as quoted by its producer and director team of James Kenelm Clarke and Brian Smedley-Aston(Vampyres) in the included audio commentary, House on Straw Hill comes across as a slightly muddled but farly effective little film with obvious nods to genre classics with one murder scene in particular being a completely plagerised(but far more gruesome) take on the shower scene from Psycho. Surprisingly well made for such a low budget production with attractive cinematography of the unspoilt English countryside and strong performances from the lead players the film also has a stifling claustrophobic atmosphere but is let down slightly by a rather standard B movie revenge conclusion. The incredibly hard working Udo Kier(with a looped over dubbed voice as the producer considered his German accent to strong)is excellent as Paul Martin who constantly seems to he on the verge of a nervous breakdown complete with nightmare visions involving an unseen figure at a window and a blood splattered bath. Although it is claimed that Linda Hayden considered this to be the low point in her movie career she is perfect here as the secretive Linda. I particularly like the scene towards the conclusion when she practically finishes Pauls novel for him as he dictates his words she takes control of the room constantly contradicting everything he says before then revealing her true identity. The remainder of the cast are also good. Fiona Richmond is given little to do but act as a voluptuous clothes horse but does this particularly well and also handles a rather intimate scene with Linda Hayden admirable. British viewers will also have fun seeing Brushstrokes star and Jiff floor cleaner advertiser Karl Howman in a complete change of character as an evil rapist who gets his comeuppance at the hands of Linda. This much touted uncut edition is indeed violent in content but no more so than its contemporaries such as Straw Dogs which is another title this movie was obviously inspired by and whos rape sequence was far stronger than what is on display here. Not a great movie or even a good one for that matter, House On Straw Hill still remains far more interesting down to its history than the movie itself but will undoubtedly find its way into the collections of fans who have yearned to see a watchable uncut edition for years.
Practically impossible to see for decades in its complete form, adventurous video nasty collectors had to make do with either the censored DVD edition which emitted around a minute from the relatively short running time or one of the bootleg VHS rips which mostly verged on unwatchable. Now thanks to US outfit Severin, House On Straw Hill has been released to Blu ray for the first time and in its full uncensored running time. Unfortunatly Severin's AVC encoded 1080p transfer is highly imperfect but does come with a disclaimer before the feature starts stating that the original negative was so badly damaged that segments had to be taken from two other 35mm prints (which also contained anomalies) to create a composite which is what was used to produce the transfer we have here. Framed at 1.67:1 for the most part this looks pretty worn with huge amounts of damage and age related wear and tear throughout the running time. The image is often plagued by scratches, dirt and debris. Heavy print damages is evident in almost every scene with tram lines that go from the top to the bottom of the image and splices and telecine judder also rear their ugly heads. The main offender though is how inconsistantly the transfer handles colour and contrast. The contrast changes from one scene to the next sometimes dark and other times blown out. The colour is the main offender constantly fluctuating from frame to frame even in the same scene often giving a strang strobing effect. All of this points to how different the three negatives used for the restoration were and I suppose it is to Severin's credit that we do have something that is in a vaguely watchable state even if it is far from steller. On a plus point the image can at times look fairly filmic with some nice enough detail and textures on display which are best realised in the bright outdoor scenes. Interiors have a tendancy to look a little soft and ill defined but on the whole are acceptable enough all things considered. It is safe to say that without a doubt this more than likely the best this movie will look unless a pristine vault print is unearthed and as the elements used here are only going to deteriorate more it is a good thing Severin have saved this hard to see title for posterity.
Severin have remained authentic to the original sound design and graced House On Straw Hill with a lossless DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono mix. There isnt alot to say really. The dialogue whether its the perfomers own or the over dubbed voices of Kier and Richmond are always understandable. There isnt alot of environmental effects but what is there is mostly ok if lacking in any real frontal push. Music reprodution is fine and reproduced with some fidelity even if it is a little shrill and depth is occasionally apparent. As with the picture the sound does exhibit abit of damage in the form of the odd pop and crackle and there is a slight amount of background hiss.
Severin have released House On Straw Hill in two flavours. The basic release is a Blu ray and DVD combo pack that contains a great audio commentary with director James Kenhelm Clarke and producer Brian Smedley-Aston. As you could probably tell from the double barrel nature of these two names these guys are pretty upper crust but the commentary is very informative,going into great detail on production, the cottage set and how they still own alot of the props and furnature, cast decisions and some interesting insight into how certain special effects were produced(you may never see the throat slashing scene in the same light again after listening to this). I found it abit hard to take though when one of the men likened some of the cinematography to David Lean! Strangely neither man could comment on why Udo Kier's character chose to wear surgical latex gloves during the numerous sex scenes. Maybe it just seemed a good idea ay the time.
Next up is an interview with Linda Hayden that runs a mere 4mins.45secs. It is very brief but contains some good archival material from her films. A trailer is also included but only in standard def 480p.
The other version of this Severin have put out is a limited edition of 3000 units release which contains a third DVD. Now this is well worth searching out as it contains the wonderful Ban The Sadist Videos documentary. This two part docu is a fascinating look back to the early 80s when the video nasty scare was in full swing. Giving both sides of the story from the video shop owners and VHS distributors who believe it or not were prosecuted for supplying these movies to the public through to memebers of the BBFC at the time including then head James Ferman and other moral guardians.
House On Straw Hill isnt a great film or even a good one for that matter but has garnered a good cult following over the years and it does have some effective moments and a solid 70s exploitation atmosphere. Fair play to Severin for doing their best with obviously poor elements and releasing this fully uncut and uncensored even if the quality is far from steller. Severin knew this but they also knew that fans would want to see this regardless of how good the transfer quality was. Add to the deal a good selection of supplimentary materials and you have a highly recommended package. Please also note that this Blu ray is region free and playable on all players worldwide.
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on 28 January 2014
Paul (Udo Kier) is a troubled man. He is suffering from writer's block and experiences bloody halluciations. His girlfriend, Suzanne (Fiona Richmond) is sent packing and instead, he hires secretary Linda (Linda Hayden). Paul's mental state does not help matters; neither does an altercation with two of the local ruffians. The two locals do not like being roughed up by a toff in a Rolls Royce, nor being rebuffed by the lovely Linda. This does not bode well for the occupants of The House on Straw Hill and it soon becomes a bloody fight for survival.

I saw this film many years ago when it came out on VHS and I was surprised to see that it was made near Hatfield Peverel, the train station where Udo Kier picks up Linda Hayden, because I used to live not far from there. The house where the action takes place looks to be somewhere near Danbury. The film disappeared from the shelves soon after, and I have been wanting to see it again ever since. According to the preamble the print we have here has been assembled from various sources but because of age, there are some imperfections, but as far as I am concerned, better this than nothing. One of the extras is an interview with Linda Hayden, but this is actually an edited interview she did in 2003 so not quite the exclusive I thought it was. Also on the dic is a trailer and audio commentary by the director and producer. The film on the Blu-ray disc runs for 83mins 50secs at 24fps although it runs on after this to allow for audio commentary.

Although this release is from the USA, it is Region-free and both the Blu-ray and DVD discs play OK in my Region 2/B Blu-ray player.I managed to get the three-disc release which contains a documentary about the Video Nasties scare which led to this and other horror films being banned in the UK, and this leads me to my only gripe, and that is there seems to be no distinction on the covers to say whether you are getting the two-disc or three-disc release. It should not have been too difficult to do an overprint. Overall, I think that Severin has put together an excellent package so I am giving it full marks.
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on 2 May 2015
Region Free.
Ltd Edition contains dvd of Ban The Sadist Videos documentary (worth getting just for this)

As others have said the film is made up from various prints to get the ultimate version available,the result being variations in picture quality although this is not too distracting.

-Audio Commentary with Writer/Director James Kenelm Clarke and Producer Brian Smedley-Aston

-An Angel For Satan – Interview With Actress Linda Hayden

-Trailer
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on 19 October 2013
After a 4 month delay House On Straw Hill finally arrives uncut on Blu-Ray! I'm not going to review the film itself as most cult horror/thriller fans will know what it's about.

The Blu-ray has been transferred from 3 negatives to make it uncut, but due to years old neglect the print is in far worse condition despite the sleeve saying it's been restored. It has been restored uncut, but that's where it stops. The print is littered with scratches, dirt, debris and a whole load of colour fade. The only positive spin I can put on this is if you liked watching Death Proof and Planet Terror in all it's beaten down worn out look, then you make like it. It does have a Grindhouse feel to it so maybe in a strange sort of way the transfer suits it!

Can it look better? Sure if Lowry or Arrow were given the negatives then yes a full scan would make it look a hell of a lot better than it does here. But will it ever come out in the UK to buy? Not sure, it depends on the BBFC. Lots of sex and violence so they may cut some scenes down.

The good thing is this Blu-Ray is region free and will work in any PS3 or Blu-Ray machine. Also included in a ltd edition 3 disc set which runs at 3000 is a documentary about banned UK horror films. Also included is a DVD of the film.

I'm giving it 4 stars for the film.
2 out 5 for the transfer.
3 out of 5 for the extras.
3 out of 5 for the audio.

If you like the film then it's a must buy if you don't mind watching it in Grindhouse style worn out look.
2525 comments12 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 January 2014
i just saw it and i liked it a lot this is what they say a lot of sex and blood and a good story
this is an old movie but i love linda hayden and she is fantastic inside the movie she masturbate herself many time
the quality is very bad but the edito tell us that he made the best he can to find the unrated version
the sound is ok for the picture sometime it is very good but there are a lot of scratch and rays
fan of bloody and sexy old movie you can buy it no problem
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on 13 March 2015
A writer moves into a secluded farmhouse to finish his second novel with the help of a new typist, however he is still having nightmares and his typist is attacked.

A stylish but totally mindless erotic thriller. James Kenelm Clarke creates a good atmosphere and the last 10 mins are very good however the rest is very disappointing. The story is a bit of a shambles and a few of the scenes make little sense, the infamous rape scene is handled well but adds little to the story (until the last 10 mins were things do come together) in fact a lot is happening but most of it means nothing, meaning even if you're not paying full attention it doesn't really matter as picking up the story is quite easy. The scenes of the murders where the killer is hidden from view are stupid as its quite clear who's doing them. Linda Hayden and Udo Kier both give good performances & the rest of the small cast are OK, Their are a lot of sex scenes (mainly with 70's sexpot Fiona Richmond) within the film none of which are very erotic or add anything meaningful to the story. Obviously placed on the video nasty list because of Hayden's rape scene but other than that there really is not anything else that strong or off note. Overall watchable as long as you don't think about things too much and just go along with the mindless story.
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on 24 July 2014
This film caused a stir when it was classed as a "Video Nasty" in the mid 1908s. but before then I don't remember it being reviewed or mentioned in most reference sources. Which is probably because it's mundane and forgettable.

The film sees Udo Keir play a reclusive writer who has rented a remote cottage to bang out his next raunchy novel. Advertising for a typist produces sultry Linda Hayden as the (presumably) only applicant. As soon as she arrives you can tell from her frosty demeanour that she has an agenda of her own. Udo has his own problems, being troubled by continual flashbacks to some bloody trauma. The typing of the novel begins, intercut with a couple of appearances by British model Fiona Richmond as Udo's lover/prostitute, and couple of deaths of incidental characters as well.

None of this is very engaging or gripping. The performances are almost all pretty bad. Fiona Richmond really has no acting talent at all, her inclusion in the film is purely for visual purposes (she gets naked in every scene she appears in). Linda Hayden does have proven acting ability, but here she seems to have been directed to sleepwalk her way through the script. Udo Kier is dubbed, so his performance has no depth at all, especially as he is given some very ridiculous things to do, especially in his sex scenes with Richmond.
Actually, all the sex scenes are awkward and embarrassing, lacking any erotic charge and very poorly simulated. The same goes for the scenes of violence, in which those tiresome knives that squirt blood when drawn over skin are the tool of choice - I can't believe that when any of the knife attack footage was reviewed after shooting, they didn't realise how bad it was.

Eventually the thing comes to a close with a rather unsurprising "reveal", and the credits finally roll - thank god. It's hard to believe that "Expose" was banned as a video nasty with content as lame as this, but that's what hype and hysteria does. Apparently this new Bluray release is uncut, so that means the British VHS release was even less impressive than this - if that's possible.

Is it worth watching? If you like lots of female nudity, no matter how un-erotic it looks, then yes. Actually Linda Hayden comes across as far more alluring than Fiona Richmond, who I can now only remember for unwittingly displaying a mouth almost completely full of gold filings. But does it have tension, thrills and a gripping story? No.
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on 20 December 2014
for a present....totally not my bag !!
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on 1 April 2014
Look past the slightly dodgy print and thank Severin for releasing this long thought lost slice of sleaze.it might not be a classic but for grindhouse/b movie collectors it's a great package.
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on 3 June 2014
Birthday present for my brother in law who is massive horror fan and asked for this film. he loves it to bits and is a good addition to his huge collection!
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