Any film banned under the 1984 Video Recordings Act gained the type of notoriety and increased interest that was often not deserved. "Straw Dogs" was caught up in this hysteria, and incorrectly bundled with films that celebrate violence.
Director Peckinpah's mission is to disturb and he achieves it through intricate editing rather than the deliberate shock tactics this film has wrongly been tarred with. Now you have an opportunity to make up your own mind with this comprehensive DVD release that educates and informs.
Picture Pale earthy colours make up an impressive transfer of a print that's clearly in good shape.
Sound The mono soundtrack is powerful and handles both music and any dramatic scenes with clarity and authority.
Audio Commentary One This track is like eavesdropping on a gathering of ultimate fans of the film. Sam Peckinpah biographers Garner Simmons, David Weddle and Paul Seydor get together to enthuse about a movie they love. Along the way you'll learn some interesting facts, but most of it is pointing out the effect that certain shots and cuts have on the story, and arguing against the reputation this movie has unfairly gained.
Audio Commentary Two Katy Haber was the PA to Sam Peckinpah on "Straw Dogs". She nearly didn't get the job, because she was asked to come along during the two weeks of the year when she didn't work - Wimbledon. Sam told her to "f*** it", and she got back to watching the tennis. Two weeks later, the tournament was done and Peckinpah had worked his way through three PAs. She went along to see him, he told her to sit down and type out the rape scene, and so began an extraordinary work relationship that makes for fascinating listening.
Isolated Score Jerry Fielding's music score is presented in a standalone track with additional cues.
1971 Documentary This seven-minute black and white featurette sees a somewhat hapless interviewer try to work his way around the talents of the movie with little luck. He gets short shrift from Peckinpah - when asked about Gordon Williams' displeasure of the changes made to his book for the film adaptation, Peckinpah replies, "Mr Williams has a penchant for his own work. I don't".
Susan George Interview Susan George has some interesting stories to tell about the making of "Straw dogs", not least her walking off set because Peckinpah refused to tell her what would happen during the rape scene. Her experience on the movie seems to have been at times very difficult, but you sense that she has no regrets.
Dan Melnick Interview Confirmation of Susan George's time on set is summed up by producer Dan Melnick's comment that she was "somewhat victimised, but it got the performance". Peckinpah didn't have an easy time of it either, for as shooting fell behind, Dan hired an actor to stand in the background, and wouldn't tell Sam who he was. Finally Sam snapped, and Dan told him the guy was there to step in and finish the shoot if it fell any further behind. The pace of filming soon picked up.
Garner Simmons Interview Simmons relates his experience of writing a biography on Peckinpah. It's a story in itself, and is light years from the PR process that goes into most celebrity biographies that are put together these days.
Additional Special Features Also on the disc is a text history of "Straw Dogs" and the BBFC, location stills gallery, publicity material galleries, resources including reviews, filmographies, facts and fascinating correspondence, a trailer, TV spots and radio spots. Included in the DVD case is an eight-page booklet.
Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono)
Technical Features: Scene selection and animated menus.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.