Ohhhh "House on Straw Hill," you had so much potential, but ultimately you left me unsatisfied. This 1976 British thriller starring Udo Kier had so many opportunities for awesomeness and yet wound up committing the ultimate sin by being undeniably boring. It's hard to imagine that an erotic thriller featuring good-looking women, mysterious intrigue, a brooding German, brutal murders and several kink-laced sex scenes would be a yawn-fest. This film is another to bear the infamous "Video Nasty" moniker, and yet I feel like the nastiest trick is played on its audience. Somehow, this movie achieves the dubious distinction of playing like an overlong, vintage episode of "Silk Stalkings."
"House on Straw Hill" traces the story of novelist Paul Martin (Udo Kier), who has holed himself up in a remote countryside house in order to finish the follow-up to his blockbuster first novel. His isolation has caused him to become increasingly paranoid and his writing has stalled. Enter Linda (Linda Hayden), an alluring blonde who comes to the house to work as his typist and secretary. Strange and violent events begin to happen and Paul is drawn into an obsessive web of deceit that seems to center around Linda.
It's a damn shame this movie is such a mess, because the plot has potential and Kier and Hayden are both capable actors. Somewhere along the line, what could have been a taut mystery with a limited cast in a creepy setting just became a silly trainwreck, lightened only by the presence of some much-needed sexiness in the last quarter of the film. Elements of revenge and madness are just plain mishandled in favor of long scenes of people looking at each other and getting pissy with one another. The Paul Martin character could have been developed into a complicated mix of megalomaniac and paranoiac, but instead he comes off as a bit of a whiner, and when the final plot twist is revealed, it seems fairly obvious! Also--and this is just a personal thing--but it drives me a little crazy when an actor with as distinctive a speaking voice as Udo Kier's gets overdubbed. What a waste of a wonderfully sinister accent!
In the final analysis, "House on Straw Hill" is the sort of movie that is frustrating because it's not hard to glimpse what could have been successful had the material not been so woefully mishandled.