Friday, October 18, 2013

HOUSE ON STRAW HILL (Severin Films Blu-Ray): Define Your Own Nasty

When your first experience with a movie is on the big screen, 35mm, 24 Hour Horror-thon hosted by the ever great Exhumed Films, the bar is set high for its priced to own, Blu-ray counterpart. There’s something about witnessing strange lesbian acts, extreme sexual violence and blood-lettings a-go-go on a screen the size of an auditorium wall especially surrounded by weary movie goers. These are the kind of folks who may have been prepared to get some shuteye during the wee hours of the morning, but are now have their eyes forced open as if they were 11 years old and discovering daddy’s Swank collection in a lock box in his closet. It’s a great experience to have, and I’m happy to report that the Severin Films release of House on Straw Hill, or as I seem to know it, Trauma (also called EXPOSÉ), lives up to the big screen, my expectations and the video nasty reputation it has come to enjoy in this less prosecutable times. 

Synopsis from Severin Films:

It remains one of the most notorious thrillers in UK cinema history, a film so graphically depraved it was banned by British censors for nearly 25 years: Eurocult legend Udo Kier (ANDY WARHOL’S DRACULA, SUSPIRIA) stars in the twisted story of a disturbed novelist, his posh girlfriend (UK softcore goddess Fiona Richmond), a secluded house in the English countryside, and the horny nymphet (luscious Linda Hayden of BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW fame) who triggers a nightmare of deviant desires, sexual violence, brutal murder and bloody revenge.


Using the old Wizard Video trailer for humor

When I met Udo Kier at Chiller Theater this past April, I asked him if he had any recollections of House on Straw Hill or if he had participated in the upcoming release. While he wasn’t really a part of this package, he did have fond memories of the movie. He seemed surprised that I would ask about it as opposed to say Flesh for Frankenstein (though that’s the poster I had him sign). It lead me to believe that not even the great Kier himself knew just how beloved this film was; that it’s impact spanned generations; that it’s reputation and possession led people to straight to jail.

My first experience as I have mentioned in my opening paragraph was at the Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horror-thon, my first one and their third. The movies screened sandwiched between Hercules in the Haunted World and Lady Terminator. How’s that for a trifecta of strange taste? I had been nodding out during Haunted World, but loved every frame when my eyes were open. Eventually, I succumbed to sleep in my seat for a time. When I awoke, there was a beautiful naked woman on screen that seemed to force my eyes open. Then I realized that Udo was about to get lucky. This is the kind of waking up that Folger’s in my cup simply cannot provide. I watched. Riveted. Somewhat disturbed at the strange dubbing used for Kier’s voice. It was one of the movies that made me realize that a 35mm experience was something to have. When I got home from the fest, after some hours of sleep, I sought it out only to realize that there were no beautifully new version available.

That’s where Severin Films has spoiled us. This release of House on Straw Hill has a DVD and Blu-ray version as well as a bonus Video Nasty retrospective disc. The quality is as good as you are going to see. There are only three known film parts of this film and the best of the best were used to create this edition. One of the film parts used was, in fact, the version I had watched at Exhumed Films’ Horror-thon some years early. The disc now holds an exceptional meaning for me. I will not soon forget that theater experience, the video nasty it introduced or the disc that I came by and love. While this is the best possible version you’re going to see, it is flawed. Do not expect to go into the experience with a complete high definition, dust free, scratch free print. That just can’t possibly happen and Severin disclaims this in the beginning. If anything this actually adds to the viewing experience. The theatrical trailer is included, an interview with Linda Hayden called An Angel for Satan and director and producer commentary with James Kenelm Clarke and Brian Smedley –Aston though I will recommend that the commentary be viewed with a fresh cup o’ Joe.

The Ban the Sadist Videos! Bonus disc is a fantastic introduction to the Video Nasty period in the UK when the Video Recording Act of 1984 destroyed lives and morality reared its fascist head. It’s separated into two parts as well as a third bonus section that includes modern day banned films. As a judge in a horror movie watching competition whose theme is the Video Nasties and banned movies, I will tell you that you will not believe what continues to be censored in the UK and worldwide. This disc alone is worth the price of purchase. 

So I’m going to ask you to buy this disc and support this exquisite release. You can pick it up from Severin Films. Paint the blood on the boobies, watch the movie!

Also, please check out my previous right up on Trauma aka House on Straw Hill from my Exhumed Films Week a few years ago. Also here’s a look at the full Exhumed Films lineups over several of the early years (more have come since then).


Note: Blood on naked women, especially on breasts was one of the key triggers of outrage that lead to the creation of the Video Recording Act of 1984 and the Video Nasty List. House on Straw Hill… infamous for the violence compacted with gorgeous hefts of nudity. You have been warned… no wait… you have been encouraged.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a blast. I'm dyin' to grab this one, especially as blood on breast is one of my absolute favorite images.