Monday, 13 October 2014

31 Days of Horror: Expose (aka Trauma) (aka House on Straw Hill) (1976)

Expose (aka Trauma) (aka House on Straw Hill) (1976)
Director: James Kenelm Clarke
Starring: Udo Kier, Linda Hayden, and Fiona Richmond
Running Time: 84 min

This is another film from the Video Nasty list and it has a couple familiar faces in this one.  It stars Udo Kier (Dance in the Dark, Dogville), who seems to like to work on enigmatic film projects and Linda Hayden (Taste the Blood of Dracula, Old Drac), who was/is a British Scream queen from back in the day.  Not only that but how can I resist a film with three names?

Paul Martin is a paranoid writer who lives in a secluded farm house out on Straw Hill.  Although, he is wealthy and has a beautiful girlfriend, Suzanne, he still can't shake these horrendous images of murder, even when he's having sex.  Poor guy.
  Anyway, he has to finish a new book because his publishers are breathing down his neck, so he shoos Suzanne out and has an agency send over a secretary, Linda, to help him type out the manuscript while he dictates it.  When he picks her up at the station, she is harassed at the station by some yokels and Paul has to defend her honour.  After he smites them with his mighty fists, they head back to the house on straw hill.  On the way, he asks if they have met before because she looks familiar,  but she says she hasn't, so Paul ignores the thought and then natters on about there agenda, his work schedule, how he made a lot of money from his first book and blah, blah, blah.
  When they arrive, it's straight to work and after a page, they give up, so Paul allows Linda to go and make some coffee for them.  She takes this time to quickly unpack her bag and masturbate?  She then comes back refreshed with the coffee and ready to bang out so more of Paul's dribble. 
  The next day after some work, Linda goes for a walk in the straw fields and then lies down for a rest.  Lying there, she of course starts masturbating, but this time it doesn't go unnoticed because the  yokels from the train station are just wondering around the area with a shotgun.  So they start raping her.  Fortunately, while being raped she lures the one with a gun over and somehow gets the gun, then she ends up shooting them both.  However, this doesn't seem to faze Linda and she heads back to the house to do some more writing with Paul.
  However, yokel rapists aren't the only people being killed, Paul's housekeeper has disappeared and after Suzanne comes back over for a booty call, she has vanishes as well.  Are Paul's horrible dreams the cause of the vicious murders and what plans does Linda have now that she has a gun?

There is sex in horror movies and then there is this movie, which is bordering on pornographic.  I can understand why this film got an X rating and was put on the nasties list because sometimes it can be a little too much.  There are a number of scenes with Linda, played by Linda Hayden (The Blood on Satan's Claw, Madhouse) just pawing at herself and when Suzanne, played Fiona Richmond (Let's Get Laid, Fiona) the only thing missing from most of her scenes is the porno music.  Director James Kenelm Clarke (Got It Made, Funny Money) seems to be more focused on the sex, than the violence in this film.
  However, there are surprisingly some good disturbing scenes in this, besides watching Udo Kier (Mark of the Devil, Blade) who plays Paul have of sex, a lot.  You can't unwatch that.   Clarke gives the film a similar feel to Peckinpah's StrawDogs.  There is an underlying sexual tension that is set with the town folk the moment Linda gets off the train and you can see this rape scene coming a mile away.  The scene itself is difficult to watch, and was one of the cuts in the UK version, but the outcome is satisfying with the shooting of the two rapists.
  Also the killings, although not that many, are all pretty solid.  Fiona for what little acting skill that she has, can sure die well.  There is tons of blood and the special effects are done really well.

  There are some minor issues but one of the bigger issues for me is the ending of the film.  It isn't gratifying and at some points it becomes ridiculous.  The actions of the main characters are convoluted, unrealistic and leaves a person scratching there head, thinking WTF? 
**SPOILER** For instance, when Paul escapes the barn from Linda, instead of grabbing the gun and knife, he grabs the knife, runs into the straw field and throws the knife away.  Now, he has no weapon and she has a gun.  Good work.**ENDSPOILER**
 As well as how the film eventually wraps up before the credits roll.  There is no justice for all the character's actions and what has been revealed throughout the film.  As a viewer, I want all characters to get what they deserve and not limp out marginally scratched at the end.  Also I find it indignant to have an evil character help another evil character to survive.  I know it's suppose to be a shock, but it's just not cool.  **SPOILER** The confrontation between Paul and Linda is the climax and then he is aided by a rapist to survive is just bad sport.  Paul needs to die for what was revealed earlier by Linda.  It would have been better for them all to die. **ENDSPOILER** 

This film is alright but it's kind of ugly, like Strawdogs.  However unlike Strawdogs, it doesn't seem to have a definite story and is confused about where it is going.  The film goes through the paces of a cheap sexual thriller but there is not real payoff in the end. It has some good gore, a lot of sex and should be watched if you want to finish up on the Video Nasty list.

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