Taking elements of both the Western and the British horror film, Peckinpah's masterstroke was to shoot Straw Dogs absolutely straight, without the reassuring signposts of either type of film. Hoffman's American mathematician settles with his wife in the village where she grew up, encountering first hostility, then violence from the remote, backward (inbred?) Cornish community. 'Civilised' man's confrontation with irrational violence is handled with impeccable logic. Indeed, looking back, it's hard to see what the charges of gratuitous violence were all about. More intriguing and questionable is Peckinpah's total annihilation of Hoffman's marriage. The violence that befalls it can be interpreted partly as an externalisation of the couple's latent incompatibility (stressed again and again). But the ensuing mixture of fantasy wish fulfilment and pure terror seems more informed by a general misogyny than specific doubts about that particular relationship.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Sam Peckinpah, David Zelag Goodman|