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starring Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan, T.P. McKenna
screenplay by David Zelag Goodman and Sam Peckinpah, based on the novel The Siege of Trencher's Farm by Gordon M. Williams
directed by Sam Peckinpah
by Walter Chaw Straw Dogs is about an evil man who has so divorced himself from animal logic that he's become monstrous. He's cruel to his wife, comparing her to a child when she's lonesome and an animal when she's amorous, and he blames her for his detachment from himself. She gets impatient during foreplay if he chooses to take a moment to set his alarm or remove his watch, ergo she must be a nymphomaniac of low breeding. At one point, she mischievously changes a "plus" sign on his chalkboard to a minus and he changes it back so that it looks like a crucifix: the instrument of his martyrdom, the faith of his castration--the ideology that seeks to isolate him from his bestial nature. Finally, when she wishes to run away, he loses his grip on carefully-nurtured civilization, slaps her across the face, and orders her upstairs to the bedroom in the same way that Victorian women were banished from the room upon outliving the delight provided by their servile domesticity. This monster moves to a small Cornish village, where he insists on the creature comforts of home, paid for by a grant to study mathematics, of all things. And in the village the monster ultimately finds himself amongst men of a truer nature.