Directed By: James Kenelm Clarke
Starring: Udo Kier, Linda Hayden, Fiona Richmond, Karl Howman, Vic Armstrong
Synopsis: Paul Martin, an eccentric and paranoid novelist rents out a cottage to complete his latest novel, employing a young lady to be his secretary/scribe.
Thoughts: In 1984 the Video Recordings Act required all video releases to be certified by the British Board of Film Censors prior to release. This act was the dawn of a rather dismal time of censorship for fans of the horror genre. Shop owners and distributors were charged with obscenity and many lives were ruined. The unintended result was a list of 72 movies that were deemed to have violated the Obscene Publications Act of 1959 that would become a checklist for any self-respecting horror fan for years to come. This list is something that I have referenced over the years and has caused me to seek out several movies that I would likely have never even heard of. Most times, efforts to censor something only drives people to seek it out. Like the saying goes, there is no thing as bad publicity.
House on Straw Hill, or Expose as it is also known is a pretty nasty movie. It doesn’t have a lot of horror elements, but rather follows a fairly typical thriller plot line. It earned its place on the Video Nasty list by combining some pretty graphic sex scenes with a fair amount of blood and sprinkling in a rape scene. While it seems a bit odd to call any rape scene tame, the one here doesn’t really hold a candle to Last House on the Left (thankfully?).
Genre icon Udo Kier is the lead here, but his voice is dubbed, which was a little weird to experience after hearing him in so many movies. Even without “hearing” Kier, he delivers his trademark oddity flawlessly. His character has some serious issues and kinks, but that seems to be par for the course for Kier. The two leading ladies, Hayden and Richmond, were both mainstays in the late 70s horror and sex comedy genres and really fit in well here.
Unlike a lot of the other movies on the Video Nasty list, it’s pretty easy to see why this film was included. It’s not a great movie, but it’s actually a lot better than many of the movies on the Nasty list. Severin films recently put out what has to be considered the definitive version of the movie, restoring the cut scenes from the original prints, finally allowing film goers to see the original version. If you are going to check this one out, I highly suggest seeking out this version. That being said, this isn’t a movie for everyone, but it is worth watching. Fans of Kier or those interested in exploring the Video Nasty list will find it worthwhile.