'Straw Dogs - 40th Anniversary Edition' [Blu ray]
(Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan, Del Henney, Jim Norton, et al / Blu ray / NR / 2011 / MGM)
Overview: Based on a little-known British novel, the film casts Dustin Hoffman as a bookish American mathematician on sabbatical in rural England, in the town where his young bride (Susan George) grew up. He finds himself forced to defend his home against an assault by local toughs, and discovers a frighteningly feral and vicious side to himself.
Blu ray Verdict: With a tag line such as 'How far will one man go to protect his wife and his home?' 'Straw Dogs (banned in the UK for over 18 years!) is one of the grittiest, and most controversial thrillers of all-time! Released in celebration of the film’s 40th Anniversary, and in anticipation of the upcoming theatrical remake (albeit the new film is based more on the book of the same name than the original 1971 movie), this violent and suspenseful tale from legendary director Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, The Getaway) stars two-time Academy Award® winner Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate, Little Fockers) and Susan George (Mandingo, The House Where Evil Dwells).
Hoffman and his flirtatious and comely wife Amy (George) go on retreat to the farmhouse she grew up in in the Cornwall countryside. Looking for solitude to complete his research he hires some locals to complete some repairs of the house. Sensing his cowardice they become abusive and intimidating which culiminates in a brutal rape scene of George, the main reason for the banning of the film.
George keeps the incident from Hoffman but when he accidently strikes local pervert Henry Niles played by David Warner on a foggy night with his car he feels responsible. He offers him shelter in the farmhouse not knowing that Warner had accidently just strangled a local girl. Her father the alcoholic Tom played by Peter Vaughn and the abusive locals arrive on the scene to extirpate him from the farmhouse.
Hoffman seeking to protect Warner and George morphs into a merciless warrior defending his turf in a segment festooned with violence as he proceeds to bloodily dispatch the group trying to gain entrance to the house.
Peckinpah's penchant for the display of violence in his film was demonstrated quite vividly in 'Straw Dogs.' The portrayal of the rape scene was disturbing even to actress George and had to be toned down. The ambiguous depiction of her reaction to her violation was extremely puzzling and branded Peckinpah as misogynistic by his critics.
At the end of the day, there is a high body count in 'Straw Dogs' and no clear hero. There is not a sympathetic major character anywhere in the movie, and that's just how Peckinpah wanted it. As a result, be warned before diving into 'Straw Dogs.' You will surely admire the movie, but the odds are pretty good that you're not going to like it very much. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Unrated Cut Blu-ray
Original Theatrical Trailer
Three Original Television Spots