I treated myself to the the blu ray of the 1977 Sarah Douglas /Julian Glover starring film The Brute this week. Its a film that I have heard mentioned over the years but hadn’t seen. It wasn’t the easiest film to see over the years but thankfully this recent blu ray release solves that problem and its great to see it comes packed with special features including a full length commentary by Kim Newman and Sarah Douglas but also has a new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative.(the pictures in this article aren’t taken from that restoration, images for The Brute seem to be scarce) Now I like to divide films that Sarah Douglas appears in, into two eras BU (before Ursa) and AU (After Ursa) and The Brute is BU, by a couple of years (Ursa first made her appearance in 1978’s Superman The Movie) and I do like to try and check out some of her filmography BU (Before Ursa) as I have seen most if not all of her films AU (After Ursa) so was very happy when I heard on a podcast that The Brute has been released on bluray.
In The Brute, Sarah Douglas plays Diane, a glamorous fashion model living with her sadistic husband Teddy (played by Julian Glover) who flips into violent rages at the drop of a hat and puts Diana through hell on a regular basis whilst appearing to be a charmer to the outside world. After deciding that enough is enough, Diane escapes the household and decides to stay with photographer friend Mark (Bruce Robinson, writer and director of Withnail & I) and his girlfriend Carrie (Suzanne Stone). Thing is, that doesn’t go too well either and before long Diane returns to her husband but things haven’t changed and following another attack on her by Teddy, Diane heads off, finding solidarity with other domestic abuse victims at a nearby women’s refuge, where she aims to forge a new life alone, but Teddy is determined to track her down.
Written and directed by Gerry O’Hara (The Pleasure Girls, The Bitch), The Brute is an uncompromising exploitation film which tackles the taboo subject of domestic violence (which was something you didn’t see on screen too much prior to this film). The Brute has been pretty much unseen since the early days of VHS, and now will gain a new audience I’m sure, thanks to this blu ray release. The film itself is very 70s (which is fine) and has some very ‘trippy’ scenes in its first half of the film and also with the way Diane is treated by the authorities,modern audiences who haven’t seen it before might struggle in some scenes if they are watching the film through 21st century eyes, but this film does contain the world of the 70s in a very accurate manner. The Brute’s contains two great performances by Sarah Douglas and Julian Glover and so this is definitely a film worth checking out if you want to expand your Sarah Douglas watch list (and of course your Julian Glover watch list too). Julian Glover is also on top form although his character is definitely not one we take a liking too so this does make for the difficult viewing when it comes to The Brute. We definitely root for Sarah Douglas’s character to get out of hell and to begin a new pleasant life.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
On the disc there are two presentations of the film: there is a more explicit export cut (90 mins) which is the version I watched first and soon I will check out the uncensored UK version, under its pre-release title, The Brute Syndrome (89 mins) which has an added prologue to the film and does contain footage that isnt in the export cut (there is a nice title card on the Play Movie menu which does give an explanation of the need and a rough guide to the difference in the two cuts of the film.
There is also of course the previously mentioned audio commentary with actor Sarah Douglas and writer and critic Kim Newman (2022) which I am very much looking forward to listening too which I will be doing very soon and also the following extra features.
Sticks and Stones (2022, runs at 14 mins): director Gerry O’Hara recalls the film’s origins and incurring the wrath of the women’s liberation movement
UK theatrical prologue (1977): a ‘psychiatrist’ contextualises the film’s themes
The Sea Can Kill (1976, which is around 27 mins): Royal Navy short, written and directed by Gerry O’Hara, about surviving a disaster at sea
This Week in Britain: ‘Erin Pizzey’ (1978, 5 mins): interview with the inspirational founder of the world’s first refuge for women, produced by the Central Office of Information
Original theatrical trailers
Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
There is also a really good 36-page booklet in the limited edition with a new essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Josh Nelson, a look at the public response to the film’s controversial screenings, an interview with fight arranger Roberta Gibbs, an overview of contemporary critical responses and some great photographs.
Its also worth noticing that the blu ray is a limited edition of 2,000 copies for the UK (and 4,000 copies for the world) so I’m happy I got mine!
You can order the bluray here