In a great many cases this boiled down to a mistake. For example, one of the often seized tapes out there was The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which is almost as lurid and prurient in content as a high school production of Hair. Another was Apocalypse Now which is hard to consider to be "Obscene", whether you like it or not. (I... do.) This film, Expose (AKA: The House on Straw Hill) certainly had a provocative cover that probably interested the Constables for one reason or another. The InterVision cover featured Fiona Richmond topless and screaming with the words above her image reading "Nothing is left to the imagination in her first screen role. Fiona Richmond: Britain's No. 1 Sex Symbol." While it could very well be interpreted that the police seized this tape due to the theoretical possibility that her state of undress, coupled with her facial expression could conceivably amount to that taboo mixture of sex and violence that so often led to banning, I am of the opinion that this particular cover and the promise of its tagline simply made the authorities really want to watch it to see Britain's No. 1 Sex Symbol with nothing left to the imagination.
I can pretty well promise you that you will too! The same is true for the actual female lead Linda Hayden, who is likewise amazingly hot. If these two descriptions don't let you know that this film is much more of an erotic thriller than your standard horror flick, then check your pulse... you may be dead.
The whole thing centers around Udo Kier's young novelist Paul Martin, who has retreated out to the country to live in a peaceful house on Straw Hill as he works on his second novel, attended to by the ill tempered housekeeper Mrs. Aston (Patsy Smart). The man most assuredly values his security and he most assuredly is tormented by horrendous visions of murder. But are these visions simply ideas for his book or something deeper and more real?
Lest I paint the picture of Paul Martin as a tragic figure, let me assure you that he is currently sleeping with a wild woman named Suzanne (the aforementioned Fiona Richmond, who shows us why - immediately - she was Britain's No. 1 Sex Symbol). Both her looks and her performance illustrate the idea that this woman could break the depression of The Cure, Depeche Mode and Echo and the Bunnymen combined.
As publishers are barking at Paul-o for his next book, work is soon paramount on his mind, so he has an agency hire for him an assistant typist. Naturally, it's hard to keep the old QWERTY on his mind when said live-in assistant looks as hot as Linda Hindstatt (the aforementioned Linda Hayden). Linda has a sadness of her own and her sorrow-laded musings are most assuredly remembrances of the past. This is illustrated by when Linda settles into her new room by taking off her clothes and vigorously masturbating to a photograph of her late husband.
What follows is a tale of intrigue, shock, suspense, mystery and terror, coupled with strange revenge plots, energetic Lesbian Sex and a rape scene that plays like a prototype for the shocker in Day of the Woman! Let me add, please, that the sex scenes play like prototypes for the gushers in Basic Instinct. No wonder Linda can't stop Masturbating, almost constantly throughout the film.
Of course, smarmy old Udo takes his pleasure in peeking in at her once in a while.
The question of who is really pulling the strings arises early on as virtually everyone in the story is mysterious in some way or other. The suspense does have a pretty solid payoff in the final act, though the penultimate scene might leave the viewer with a lot to be desired.
Expose is one of only two films that were Banned in England that actually were English-made films. While there is a certain British sensibility here (even Udo's voice is dubbed), the film primarily has a more Giallo feel than anything else. There are a lot of the old Exploitation tricks pulled from the sleeve of writer/ director James Kenelm Clarke, but they're all placed in a lavish, often dark crimson, framework that is handled in a serious and mainly very mature manner. This includes the passionate sex scene between Hayden and Richmond. I don't intend to get too graphic here but it is wonderfully sexy and breathlessly hot.
That said, Expose does have a tendency to take itself just a bit too seriously and it sports a clincher ending that, quite simply, could have been better. Further, Udo Kier's character is so remarkably self-centered that his ego borderlines on misogyny in such a direct way that it almost seems like an endorsement of Clarke's. Yeah, the sleaze quotient isn't subtle here, but then again, neither is the atmosphere. Whereas on occasion this one can seem like a TV Movie of the Week thriller, most often it comes off as a psychological and very sexual thriller with the good and bad that this entails.
As for the reasons this one was banned on the Video Nasty List... well, in this case a Picture is worth a Thousand Obscene Publications, because The House on Straw Hill is second only to The House on the Edge of the Park in its depiction of super-hot, super-naked, super tortured women. Pretty much my very definition of "Nasty". Luckily another drawback to this flick is the lack of realism in the gore effects. It looks almost as if bodies are being drawn upon with a overly-inked red dry-erase marker.
Regardless, this is a gruesome and shocking sex thriller worth your time to watch, if you can find it. Although the film has been released in the UK (cut by 30 seconds), it's not exactly easy to come by... and it's not available at all on DVD in the United States at the time of this writing (March 25, 2008). However, you lucky viewers in the UK and France can procure a copy in the boxed set called "Fiona Richmond - Expose / Hardcore / Let's Get Laid", which proudly proclaims on the cover "Also Featuring Linda Hayden". Indeed it does... in a scene I would just about give the full Five Stars to!
Expose on the whole, however, taken for all with all is worth Three Stars out of Five. It's serious to the point of suspense and heat... but it's almost too serious to the point of Melodrama. Still, it's one of those movies that you can watch again and again. Or... at least... I can. And have. And will. Incidentally, another gem that audiences in France and the UK can pick up, but readers in the USA would be hard pressed to get their hands on, is Fiona Richmond's paperback book entitled Tell Tale Tits.
Fiona... I am officially your bitch. You're just my type. See both of you in the next reel.
Man, can you picture if there was an Expose about this site?
Talk about BORING... because I've already revealed everything...
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