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RELEASED: 1972, Cert.18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 84 mins
DIRECTOR/SCREENPLAY: Wes Craven
PRODUCER: Sean S Cunningham
MUSIC: David Hess
Sandra Peabody as Mari Collingwood
Richard Towers as Dr. John Collingwood
Cynthia Carr as Estelle Collingwood
Lucy Grantham as Phyllis Stone
David Hess as Krug Stillo
Jeramie Rain as Sadie
Marc Sheffer as Junior Stillo
Fred J Lincoln as Fred 'Weasel' Podowski
FILM ONLY REVIEW
It is Mari Collingwood's 17th birthday, and she is off to a concert with her friend, Phyllis. Mari's mother isn't too happy about her daughter's evening out due to the concert location being in a rough part of town, and Phyllis being less of a 'nice' girl than Mari. However, Dr. John Collingwood is more lenient, trying to calm his wife by explaining that teenage girls like to have a good time and that no harm will come to them.
Mari and Phyllis drive off to the concert location, and whilst walking along a street in the bad neighbourhood, they see a young man (Junior Stillo) leaning against a wall. The girls approach him and ask if he knows where they can score some weed. At first he refuses, then relents, taking them into an apartment where a small group of criminals is hiding out from the police.
From that point onwards, the two teenage girls are subjected to a terrible ordeal as the sadistic gang drives them to a rural woodland location, where they proceed to torment and torture them.
Meanwhile back at Mari's home, her parents are decorating the house for her birthday celebration and baking a cake, yet when the realisation dawns that she has been out far longer than they expected, they contact the police....who are of no help whatsoever.
When the police do eventually decide to get their finger out, two bumbling, hapless cops take to the road in search of the missing gang of crooks, unaware that the girls have been abducted by the gang.
That sets the scene....watch the film to find out what happens.
At the very beginning of The Last House On The Left, there is a notice saying the film is based on a true story. This is very feasible, as what follows is quite convincing, but I have no idea how true or otherwise it is to any real life event.
I chose to watch The Last House On The Left and went into it blind, with no idea whatsoever of what it would be about. The first ten or so minutes I found excruciatingly tedious, and the terrible acting from the characters of Lucy's parents (Richard Towers and Cynthia Carr as Dr. Collingwood and Estelle Collingwood respectively) left a tremendous amount to be desired.
However, once the film got going and from the point where Mari and Phyllis were lured into the criminals' hideaway, things took a turn for the better.
The acting from each of the gang members and that of Sandra Peabody (as Mari) and Lucy Grantham (as Phyllis) really is pretty good, although mum and dad Collingwood continued to be almost embarrassingly awful.
The Last House On The Left is definitely a very cheaply-made film which is decidedly amateurish in parts from the production/direction team, but the storyline is gripping and there isn't a dull moment. What happens on the screen is perfectly enhanced by an interesting, unusual score which is largely hippie-ish type music, typical of the era, and towards the end of the film becomes quite weird here and there.
Despite The Last House On The Left most certainly being a low budget film - and it really shows - it actually is very good for the most part and I certainly wasn't expecting what the storyline evolved into. There is a lot of violence which is pretty nasty, but the viewer sees the results of that violence rather than close-up sensationalist shots of it actually happening. However, it is still quite gory in parts.
I have recently read on the internet that The Last House On The Left was considered quite a morbid breakthrough in its time, but despite the early 1970s being my era, I until a few weeks ago had never heard of it and was totally unaware of its existence. I can with hindsight see that back in 1972, this was probably a deeply shocking film - and in a way it still is - but by today's standards, although the violence isn't tame, it is nowhere near as graphic as what we have come to expect as the norm for a slasher-type production. What jarred me more than anything was the psychological disposition of Phyllis and Mari's captors, as they are truly sinister and a collective very nasty piece of work. I have also read that for several years, the film was banned from being shown in the UK.
I was without doubt totally surprised by The Last House On The Left, but feel the made on a budget element stands out like a sore thumb; blend that with the God-awful acting from Richard Towers and Cynthia Carr and the bumbling pair of cops, we then have what could be viewed as an almost laughable element to what is overall a very serious film....but, this nonetheless is an extremely good, entertaining (if you like that sort of thing), surprisingly nasty production - and I mean 'nasty' in the sense of it being violent and sinister.
If you can tolerate some absurdly hammy acting here and there, The Last House On The Left really is well worth watching for fans of this movie genre, although I would strongly recommend approaching it from a 1972 mindset, and not to expect it to be as sleekly made as anything from more recent years.
I do believe there was a remake of this film about three or four years ago, but am unable to comment on its merit or otherwise, as I haven't seen it...but, I can make some probably accurate guesses as to what a modern-day director would have done with it in the sense of updating the scenes of violence.
At the time of writing, The Last House On The Left can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £1.74 to £7.98
Used: from £1.99 to £5.11
Collectible: Two copies currently available, @ £4.89 and £9.99
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Teenagers Mari and Phyllis have been to a concert to celebrate Mari's 17th birthday, when they stop off to score some hash. They are promised some, but find out all too late that it is just a ploy to kidnap and rape them on the part of a criminal gang. The girls are bundled up and stuck in the boot of a car. However, their desire to live is still strong and, once released, they try hard to escape from the gang's clutches, which, considering the gang is made up of three men and a woman, is hard work. Eventually, the girls are faced with the possibility that they are certainly facing rape, if not death. Will they be able to escape alive and reach Mari's parents, who live nearby? Will the police or Mari's parents be able to do anything to help them?
Perhaps shockingly, considering I am a fan of horror films, this is the first time that I have seen this film, which also happens to be Wes Craven's first film, made in 1972. However, watching it, I was immediately sure that I had seen a film with a very similar story - and I soon proved myself right - it is very like The Night Train Murders, an Italian video nasty, directed by Aldo Lado. The latter, made in 1975 (three years after The House on the Left) is, apparently, based on The House on the Left - in fact one of its nicknames is The Second House on the Left. This did take away a little bit of the thrill of the film for me, just because I had a good idea what was going to happen. However, it is still a good film, albeit with some wooden acting, and is worth watching for any fan of horror films.
The acting is not brilliant; nor is it surprising when you consider that a number of the actors are from the porn industry. For its time, this film must have been incredibly shocking and finding well-know actors to take on the roles must have been very difficult. Sandra Peabody plays Mari, and despite her innocent looks, I was interested to see that her last role was in a film called Massage Parlour Hookers! She gives a reasonable performance, looking truly terrified at times, but it is no surprise that her acting career didn't go all that far. The same goes for Lucy Grantham, who plays Phyllis - this was her first and last film performance.
The actors who make up the 'gang' are well-cast if only for their looks - they look exactly like people you would expect to see in a criminal gang. David Hess plays Krug Stillo and is very scary - he is full of testosterone and looks incredibly aggressive. He was certainly the one I feared the most. Fred J Wilson plays the other gang leader. He is creepy in a very suave way and has a porn background, something that is not difficult to guess. The woman of the group is played by Jeramie Rain, who was married to Richard Dreyfuss - her acting is not exactly top-notch, but there are times when she is watching the girls being raped when her lack of concern is chilling. Finally, Mark Sheffler plays Junior - he is child-like and probably the most likeable of the group - certainly he doesn't want anyone to get hurt.
Mari's parents deserve a mention, although they don't really come into the story until the end of the film. Gaylord St James (or Richard Towers as he seems to be more commonly known - I wonder why?!) plays Mr Collingwood. He appears to be another porn industry actor. His performance is weak and wooden, but thankfully, he doesn't have as much of a role as Cynthia Carr, who plays his on-screen wife. She is actually quite good (in a B movie sort of way) and I did find myself cheering her on. Then again, this is a horror movie, and often there isn't that much difference between the good characters and the bad!
There are some deeply unpleasant parts to this film. Torture porn is a phrase that only seems to have been bandied about recently, but this really is torture porn, with plenty of rape, torture and murder. It is not in the least bit titillating, however - there is something about the way it is done that is very disturbing. We don't actually see anything other than naked breasts though, at least not in the version that I have, so it is more the presumption of what is going on that is disturbing rather than what we actually see. I think what actually disturbed me the most was the way the girls seemed to be just tossed around - it was almost as if they were bags of something rather than human beings. I am not a person who is easily disturbed by horror films, but there is something about the mix of rape and horror that I find uncomfortable.
Considering the age of the film, the special effects are excellent. Most of it is just blood splashed around everywhere, but the colour is exactly right and the way it pumps out of wounds is deeply unpleasant. There is the occasional chopped off limb though, and again, this looks very realistic and surprisingly made me flinch. It most certainly is not something for the underage - the UK classification is 18 and I think this is absolutely right. It took a great deal of time to get it released in the UK at all - for years it was banned and it is only in the last few years that it has been available on DVD. Even so, there are parts that have been cut, presumably because of the goriness.
There are some odd comic moments that are interspered with all the gore and violence. This comes in the form of two police officers who are chasing the gang. We see their car run out of petrol, so that they have hitch a lift on the top of a truck full of chickens. All this is done to a tune similar to the one that accompanies The Dukes of Hazard. I'm not entirely sure why this slapstick was put in - it isn't really necessary - but perhaps the director wanted to lighten the atmosphere! The music in general is quite strange - it was written and partially sung by David Hess, who plays one of the gang, yet it does oddly seem to fit in.
There is a whole host of extras. The most important is a forty minute featurette about the film, which includes interviews with Wes Craven, the producer Sean S Cunningham and most of the main actors. It gives an interesting insight into the reasons for making the film in the first place and to putting it all together. Then there's a brief featurette with David Hess about the making of the score. Hess is actually a talented musician, so it is interesting to hear about his thought process while putting the score together. Then there's a collection of trailers, including, for some reason, the German one, as well as the ad campaign on TV and radio - this is where the famous 'To avoid fainting keep repeating....It's only a movie...It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'. Then there is a collection of written cast and crew biographies - only worth a look if you're interested. Finally, there's a collection of stills from the filming and production of the film - only for massive fans of the film I think.
From the point of view of the shock factor, I think this film is good - it is certainly a lot better than much of the rubbish that is produced these days. The new version of the film is apparently out, but I haven't seen it yet - although judging by reviews, it isn't all that good. However, I will watch it at some point, if only because Wes Craven and Sean S Cunningham are involved on the production side. I think the 1972 version is definitely a must-see for fans of horrors, but if you are at all squeamish, you will want to stay well clear. Personally, I found it a little close to the bone at times, but it still deserves three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com for £3.99.
Running time: 81 minutes
Wes Craven's seminal 1972 horror film remains one of the most controversial horror films of all time - it is an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's revenge parable The Virgin Spring - and is also notorious for its brutal rape and murder scenes, leading to it being named a "video nastie".
The Last House on the Left is somewhat more intelligent and thoughtful than you'd reasonably expect - it's as much a moral parable as it is a blood and gore fest, with its musings on the righteousness of revenge, and the role of the law also. The film begins with two young girls coming across a group of drifters and hanging out with them. The men then rape them and commit more heinous crimes, then deciding to crash at a local house with the pretense of being an upstanding family with car trouble. The irony is, that their hosts turn out to be the parents of one of the girls they just savaged. The tension of the film rests within wondering when, if at all, the parents will find out what has happened, and that they've offered shelter to the very people who victimised their daughter. Moreover, when faced with the possibility of revenge, what is the right thing to do? It offers plenty of compelling questions, and provides satisfying answers also, although this sentiment was mostly lost sadly in the 2009 remake, namely because the role of the law was reduced, depleting the moral agency and making it a fairly brainless film that glorified violence.
Surely tame by today's standards, The Last House on the Left is nevertheless a grim horror that successfully captures a sense of time and place. Dated and evidently low-budget, there is nevertheless more social comment here than expected.
To avoid fainting, keep repeating...... it's only a movie, it's only a movie, it's only a movie......
Once in a while, a movie is released that is so vile, so disturbing that it gets banned. These films turn out to be either masterpieces, or disasterpieces. Previous masterpieces include, the indecently surreal Clockwork orange, and the criminally disturbing Texas chainsaw massacre. But the good ones tend to be few and far between, and unfortunately this film is not one of them.
Human nature makes people want to see a film more because it was banned. You can't help it. You want to know, no, you need to know what this film did to be pulled from public release. Are there scenes of animal cruelty (a la, Cannibal Holocaust.)? Are there scenes of Extreme violence (Texas chainsaw.). Or, were they banned for having graphic scenes of almost everything imagineable (Salo.). As such, I have found myself on a crusade to watch as many of these 'banned' films as possible, to fulfill my bloodlust.
I picked up a copy of the infamous, Wes Craven classic ' Last house on the left; on Ebay for about a quid, now that they have reduced P&P on dvd's to nothing! So, I slipped it into the DVD player with great anticipation. My palms were sweaty, and I was genuinely excited at the prospect of watching the film. But how would it turn out in the end?
The truth is I don't know.... The end I mean.... I didn't see it. I couldn't stomach it. Not, rather unfortunately, because of the gore involved, or because of the way that it disturbs you. No, I was put off by the fact that the film was total and utter crap. I actually think that I deserve a medal for martyring through as far as I did.
Two girls are on their way to see a concert. They are seventeen, they are innocent. They get kidnapped, when trying to score some grass, by a gang of escaped cons. These cons spend the next day raping and abusing the girls, with crappy cut scenes of the keystone cops chasing them. Eventually, the fugitives end up staying at the parents of one of their victims, and the parents open a can of whoopass.
My plot paragraph is very short. There is a reason. There is very little plot. Very little plot, and incredibally poor acting. Scenes of rape should not induce the actor to have a face like they need a fart! At several points, due to the wooden acting, I thought I was watching a 70's porno (not that I know what they look like!).
By todays standards, the film is weak. There is very little reason to believe it was banned. There is no actual footage in the film, that is incredibly graphic. The film uses cut scenes, to allow you to think that the bad stuff is happening. Very little is seen on screen. One memorable scene, involves one of the girls watching the other being attacked. The scene cuts to her face, as she watches on in what should be terror, but is more a kind of lazy yawn.
I hope that I save you some money. Even the one pound I spent on Ebay was too much. The film no longer looks sharp. The acting is incredibally poor. Wes Cravens first effort, and definately not his best. I love this type of film, but fell asleep ten minutes before the end. That should tell you enough!
Don't waste your time, or money! G
Long before A Nightmare On Elm Street and Scream, director Wes Craven was involved in a few unpleasant movies. His first ever movie as Director is by far his sickest offering, made in 1971 Last House On The Left is far more shocking and disturbing than movies like Saw and Hostel. In fact in the UK it is still considered so shocking that to this date the movie has not ever been seen in its uncut form, although that being said there is a grey area of this that says that nobody has truly seen the uncut movie, and that different countries all offer slight variations of the "Uncut" movie, but more of this later.
Its Mary Collingwood's 17th birthday and to celebrate her and her friend Phyllis Stone head into the city to see a concert much to the disapproval of Mary's mother. When Phyllis is asked by Estelle Collingwood (Mary's mother) what her parents do she states "They are in the Iron & Steel industry.... My mother iron's and my father steals!"
But like many youngsters out for a big night, for the first time in their lives Mary & Phyllis go off looking for drugs, which leads them to a squalid flat inhabited by Krug (David Hess), Weasel, Sadie, and Junior. This quartet are thugs and killers on the run from the law, who soon make Mary and Phyllis their captives. First using them as sex toys, the quartet have absolutely no plans of letting these girls leave alive.
Banned back in the early 1980's Last House On The Left was one of the original video nasties, ripped from video shop shelves and not seen again in the UK again until 2002, while in other countries the movie has never legally been seen.
I will say that in reflection you see very little in the movie, it's all mainly down to graphic reference in dialogue and the things you believe you see that happen slightly off-screen. The reference whatever the case has so much impact to some degree it's just as bad as actually seeing what you believe you have. The whole thing captured on poor quality film stock that almost convinces you that you're watching something that might technically be legal. The grainy images and blurred soundtrack really create a dirty impact on the movies image.
The story allegedly taken from Ingmar Bergman's Jungfrukallan (AKA The Virgin Spring), is a fairly limited one, so limited in fact that you often find reviews tend to spill the whole story allowing little for the casual viewer to find that they have not already read. To be honest though the story is a secondary factor, in my opinion this movie was made with the shock factor in mind, a way of propelling Wes Craven instantly onto a higher level that a conventional horror tale would not have allowed. It's a heartless exploitation film that if it fails to offend, you might not necessarily be well enough to be walking the streets as a free person.
What the movie does have in its favour is the exacting revenge that is served on our nasty quartet; it gives you a nice feeling of justice having been served, if not of course in the most extreme manner. This for me is what makes the movie any way near enjoyable the fact that the bad guys begin to get their comeuppance, and I'm not spoiling the movie by saying that, and rationally thinking if they did not I'm not sure the movie would ever get the time of day anywhere.
There is a lot of humour in the noted revenge, a lot of A-Team/Home Alone style traps all readily prepared for our thugs. As well as some tongue in cheek, well something in cheek humour that has a biting edge. There is also some great cartoon like fighting in the dark, that actually draws some much needed humour in a mainly dark piece, whether this was intentional or not I guess we might never know.
The casting is well handled for a low budget movie, and this was an incredibly low budget affair. David Hess who made his living since Last House being the bad guy in movies like House On The Edge Of The Park, and Hitch-Hike, takes on a dual role as Krug the leader of the thugs, and the movies musical consultant (you can't see this but I'm laughing). As Krug he is a little cheesy, a little wooden, but arguably incredibly menacing. As musical consultant or should I say singer, he is a little more hit and miss, with one song being good and the next being awful, it's a varied collection of songs, that echo's TV show The Banana Splits. The parents of Mary played by Richard Towers and Cynthia Carr are so wooden to quote Paul Kayes alter ego Dennis Pennis "I thought someone had thrown a chair in!" Most of the other cast disappeared Fred J.Lincoln who played Weasel went on to make (as a director) over 200 porn movies. While the character of the police deputy played by Martin Cove had slightly better luck than the rest of the cast starring in over 70 episodes of Cagney And Lacey and as Kreese in the Karate Kid movies.
In summing up I'd not advice this movie to anyone really, if you're into your horror exploitation then from the sense of a completist its one of those things you need to see. But if you're a casual horror viewer it's a movie that you can safely avoid.
In the UK the DVD of Last House On The Left has no special features. Several years back a feature packed special edition was released but this has long since been deleted. The image is quite grainy on the DVD and is cut by several minutes from both the US and Dutch prints I'll cover below.
The US edition, is the same grainy print as the UK but apparently "Uncut" this has the following special features:-
* Audio commentary from writer/director Wes Craven and producer Sean S. Cunningham
* Audio commentary from stars David Hess, Fred Lincoln and Marc Sheffler
* 'Celluloid Crime Of The Century' (49 mins): a featurette with contributions from Wes Craven, Sean S. Cunningham, David Hess, Jeramie Rain, Fred Lincoln, Martin Kove and Marc Sheffler
* 'Krug Conquers England': a documentary charting the theatrical tour of the UK which included the first ever legal screening of 'Last House On The Left'
* 'Krug And Company': the extremely rare alternative cut of the film presented on DVD for the first time ever!
* 'Scoring Last House': a featurette with composer/actor David Hess (12 mins)
* Outtakes and dailies (20 mins)
* 'Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out': an exclusive first release of an early unfinished Wes Craven short starring David Hess
* U.S. theatrical trailer
* German theatrical trailer
* TV spots
* Radio spots
I cannot comment on the above features as I have not had the fortune of viewing them, I only saw the movie.
Now while the version by Dutch Filmworks has no special features other than a trailer, it's actually the best quality print of all the movies. The movie is clear, the sound more crisp, and the edits (I don't mean cuts) are more subtle rather than blatant like in the UK and US version. But now we get on to either the good or bad stuff dependant on your perspective. The movie contains a disembowelment scene in both the US and Dutch versions, but the Dutch version is significantly longer, leading enthusiasts to claim that the Dutch print is a true uncut version. However rumours come to light every two years or so stating that a longer version is held in Italy and on the cards for a release, although Wes Craven has never come forward to say whether a longer version is available or not.
The UK version is available from play.com priced £4.50, the US version again from play.com is priced £6.99 through their marketplace, however if you visit playusa.com you can get the DVD for £14.99. To obtain the Dutch version which features house on the cover your best bet is to try Ebay where the DVD currently sells for around the £9 mark.
For those of you who are unaware of its existence, Last House on the Left is an infamous film. It is infamous as one of the great "video nasties" that has taken two decades to finally see a commercial release in this country. Such was the fervour around this film that criminal proceedings have been taken against individuals who were found to possess a copy. However, in 2003, a certificate for video release was finally awarded in the UK and the film was unleashed on the public, virtually in its original form. The following review is an attempt to really assess the viewing experience of this film. It is not explicit in its content, but some readers may be disturbed by some of the observations that are made.
Written and directed by Wes Craven, Last House on the Left is an unpleasant little tale of violence, cruelty and revenge. The story is fairly simple. Two teenage girls meet up on the evening of one girl's birthday and take a trip into the city to spend the night on the town. As they wander along one of the sidewalks, they approach a young man, stood in a doorway, to ask whether he has any good weed that they can buy. He eventually tells them that he does, and takes them into his apartment, where two other men and a young woman confront the two girls. Before they can change their mind, the door to the room is locked and they find themselves at the mercy of the quartet of strangers.
The girls' ordeal is neither short, nor subtle. They are raped, beaten and tortured throughout the night until the morning comes and their captors decide to take them out to the countryside. They eventually stop the vehicle in a particularly secluded spot, but in a cruel twist of fate it transpires that their choice of location is the countryside immediately behind the one of the girls' parents house. The girls' ordeal continues for several more hours until eventually their sadistic captors brutally murder the pair and leave their bodies behind. Without a shred of remorse, the killers' get changed and then decide to call upon a local house to attempt shelter for the night. The house owners are welcoming and extremely hospitable, blissfully unaware that their houseguests are responsible for the disappearance of their daughter. But for how long.........
At the time of its release, it was suggested that Last House on the Left was a biting, harsh-hitting look at the reality of violence and the effect it had on its victims. The film certainly fitted into the niche of 1970s horror films, with equally controversial films such as The Exorcist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre soon to follow. Other, harsher critics simply condemned the film as sensationalist, explicit and offensive and it was a result of the outcry that the film was so quickly banned. The Last House on the Left was cleverly marketed from the outset, with a (now famous) advertising campaign that uttered the words:
"To Avoid Fainting, Keep Repeating:
It's Only A Film, It's Only A Film, It's Only A Film"
But how does the film stand up, twenty-two years after its original release, after the dust of hype has finally settled. In light of the film's reputation, and with the memory of some studio stills in my mind, I have to say that I was rather nervous about this film and whether I would be able to sit through it.
In actual fact, Last House on the Left proved itself to be an extremely disappointing film. Tired, dated, surprisingly tame and generally not that horrible, I struggle to find any reason for the film's bad press, or its justification as a classic horror movie. Last House deserves only to be relegated to the archives of forgotten Seventies trash.
It would seem silly not to mention the violence, as it was this that caused most of the uproar. Last House is a very violent film. It is a particularly unpleasant film in that the violence is generally of a sexual nature and that the two teenage girls are subjected to such a terrible ordeal. The violence seems pointless and without motives (entirely intentional on the director's part) and any balanced individual will find themselves quite sickened by the film's events. A particularly unpleasant twist in the tale is that one of the captors is herself female, and yet she seems to take just as much pleasure from the torture as the men. There is also a gritty realism to the proceedings that makes the film seem more like a documentary than a work of fiction. It is therefore, in tone, a true horror film.
The violence is not, however, particularly explicit. The rape sequences are generally not visible to the audience and are inferred rather than portrayed. The bloodshed is not particularly realistic and the level of gore is far, far lower than countless other horror movies that have not received the same deluge of criticism. If you watch this film under the expectation that it will be stomach-churningly gruesome then you would be disappointed. So what DID Wes Craven have in mind when he made the film?
It's actually very difficult to say. There is nothing supernatural or fantastical about the film, whatsoever. There is nothing particularly interesting about the killers - they're just a bunch of escaped convicts with no compunction about killing another human being. The twist in the tale, of course, is that the last house on the left, selected by the killers, turns out to be the parents' house. Once the parents work out what has been going on, they exact their terrible revenge upon the four killers. The idea is, therefore, that violence can set a chain of events in motion that will drive otherwise normal people into committing horrendous acts themselves. Last House on the Left is therefore a kind of immorality play. It's a tale of revenge, but has no victor and simply tells us that crime destroys people's lives.
The trouble is, it really isn't effective at all, because it never feels particularly believable. The parents' realisation of what has happened is rushed and simply not plausible. Even worse, their denigration into acts of barbarity clipped and simply not effective. It doesn't help that the pair is demonstrated as being so simple and wet throughout the film, that the conversion at the film's climax simply doesn't ring true. To further complicate things, there are various scenes involving two bumbling police officers desperately trying to get to the house to avert the inevitable crime before it is too late. The comedy element simply doesn't work here and at time is almost seems offensive alongside the severity of everything else.
To a modern audience, the film fares even less successfully because of the picture quality, grainy photography and seventies sound track. The sound effects often sound like something out of a child's television drama, the camerawork is not unlike a family holiday video and the whole thing feels decidedly amateur. To make matters even worse, the standard of acting is terrible, with very few occasions where you are really compelled to believe that the ordeal is actually taking place. In one early scene, the camera pans up closely to one of the teenaged girls' face as she watches her friend being brutalised, but she grimaces and twitches more like she has indigestion than a witness to a terrible crime.
Ultimately, after 22 years of hype and hearsay, Last House had an awful lot to live up to, and it really doesn't succeed at all. The film is neither scary, nor engaging and I found it a real chore to sit through. Unless the version that I watched had been heavily edited, the fuss about this film seems largely unjustified and I can't help thinking that the film's opponents have only served to increase the film's infamy. Needless to say, I was deeply disappointed with this film, and would even go as far as to say that I felt quite silly being nervous of is content.
A prospective viewer need heed only one warning:
"To avoid wasting money, keep repeating:
It's a crap film, It's a crap film, It's a crap film."
*This review applies to the uncut version* Mari and Phyllis are planning a night out on the town, they are going to see a band, ironically named Bloodlust. The concert is in a bad neighbourhood and Mari's parents are wary about letting her go. However she assures them that Phyllis lives in the neighbourhood and will keep her safe. Before she leaves Mari's parents give her an early birthday present, a necklace. The two girls have a drink and want to get some weed. They see a boy on the street and he says he has some so takes them to his house. When they get there they are locked in and are trapped with Krug (a man who is being pursued for triple murder), Weasel, Junior (Krug's son) and Sadie. They keep the girls there all night and rape them. In the morning Mari's parents are worried but assume Mari is just out having fun. The police think the same.<br>Krug and the rest take Mari and Phyllis out and brake down, unbeknown to them right outside Mari's house. So they take them into the surrounding woods where they sadistically torture them. Krug then leaves and Phyllis makes a run for it and so does Mari with Junior in tow. Sadie, Weasel and Krug catch up to her and stab her and then kill her. They then catch up with Mari and Krug carves his name into her chest, he then rapes her and shoots her. Needing a place to hide out the four stop off in, coincidently Mari's house. Mari's parents are at first welcoming but overhear Krug and Junior arguing about Mari. They then find Mari's body and decide to exact revenge. Wes Cravens directorial debut is a far cry from Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The production values of this film are low but it adds to realism. Anyone expecting this film to be an easy watch will be shocked. The violence isn’t that extreme but the way it is dealt with . The mood of this film is dark and depressing and the action often played out to a downbeat song, or an inappropriately happy tune wh
ich adds to the viciousness of the film. It has been banned in England for many years and after reading some reviews for it I thought it would be on the shock level of Cannibal Holocaust, although it isn’t there it looses no impact and is certainly memorable. The acting is is okay, with Krug’s performance the best, although some of the acting is laughable. I really have one criticism, which for many reviews for this film that I have read is the same. Inbetween the ordeal with the two girls there are stupid scenes with two bumbling policeman which spoil the mood and seems really outdated, but apart from that the film is excellent but be warned the villains aren’t wise cracking lovable rogues they are brutal and believable.
*** Please note that this opinion contains detailed descriptions of both the films plot and eventual ending and those of you who may not yet seen it may prefer not to read the entire opinion.*** ----------------------------- Wes Craven’s 1972 debut film has long been denied a classification by the BBFC here in the UK and it’s found by many to be a very unpleasant film to watch. After seeing this film few people would have predicted that Craven would become such a success and go on to make such popular mainstream horror movies like ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ and ‘Scream’. One of the main reasons so much interest is still shown in this film is that it’s banned and still remains unavailable to buy within the UK. I’ve no doubt that had it been granted a certificate and become more widely available it would have become by many a forgotten piece of film. It’s interesting to note that it was produced by Sean Cunningham who later when on to produce and direct the popular teen slasher ‘Friday The 13th’ Judging by the title and artwork for the various video and DVD formats available you would be forgiven in thinking that the film contains either a creature of some kind or has a supernatural element to its storyline. However ‘Last House On The Left’ has its feet firmly implanted in the real world and the only thing to be afraid of in the film are the 5 people who go on to commit atrocious acts on a pair of innocent young girls. This film does have a similar plot to that of Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Virgin Spring’ I suppose the main question about this film is whether the current ban on it is justified. To be honest although the scenes involving the abducted girls are very unpleasant to watch, when taken on their own they are not as graphic and extreme as many other horror movies. However the BBFC are always concerned with sex scenes
which do not feature mutual consent by the parties involved. The film however was granted a limited arthouse release in 2000 The story is of two teenage girls Mari (Sandra Cassel) and Phyllis (Lucy Grantham) who go to the City to see a concert and end up being abducted by 3 men and a woman. The next day the group take the girls to some woods near Mari’s home and it’s there that they are eventually raped and murdered. After cleaning themselves up the group seek refuge at Mari’s house. Her mother soon finds out that their guests are in fact her daughters kidnappers when she notices Mari’s necklace on one of the men. While the group sleep the parents seek out revenge which culminates in the death of all the abductors. The film is just as you would expect for a directors debut filmed on a low budget with a bunch of below par actors. In fact it’s the acting in general that lets the film down. The best of a bad bunch are Sandra Cassel as Mari and David Hess as Krug. Both while not outstanding are adequate. The scenes which are set in the woods are the most disturbing and have a very voyeuristic feel to them. The simple fact that the two victims are defenceless and innocent certainly makes uncomfortable viewing and its all filmed with a very brutal and cold atmosphere. The film also suffers from two main problems, the first is Craven’s decision to bring some comedy into the film. One moment he is showing you the horror of the girls ordeal only to cut to the new scene which involves the inept attempts of the local sherif and his deputy to find the missing girls. This is played out very much for laughs and is accompanied by some suitable stupid music more appropriate for a comedy. In fact the soundtrack on a whole is questionable. Although Craven’s intention here was to add some relief to the horror being shown on screen I personally feel that these comedy moments in many ways undermined the seri
ousness of the main issue and prove to be an unwanted distraction. My other concern about the film is the scenes set in the house with Mari’s parents. What ever your view on the scenes set within the woods you would have to agree they’re very emotional but once we leave this part of the film the rest goes downhill. The acting particular that of Mari’s father is abysmal he shows very little emotion, just check out the scenes with the chainsaw to see what I mean. After knowing the people in the house were responsible for his daughters death you would have thought he would have put some enthusiasm into his revenge. Where was Wes Craven’s direction?. He should have been screaming “For gods sake man they killed your daughter show some real emotion”. A shame the revenge part of the film was not filmed better. Overall a thought provoking film and one which certainly has an impact on its audience. It has attained cult status and despite its shortcomings ‘The Last House On The Left’ remains a watch able piece of film. Although anyone expecting a horror film nay be disappointed and it really is more of an exploitation movie along with titles such as ‘ I Spit On Your Grave’ and the ‘Ilsa’ series of films.
This is an unpleasant and shocking film. at the same time, its not a film you forget easily. For those made of sterner stuff, 'Last house on the left' is a nihilistic classic, a brutal study on the nature and effects of violence and revenge. 'Last house' marked the second collaboration between genre heavyweights Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham (their first joint effort had been the forgotten soft porn flick 'Together'). The plot of the film loosely follows Ingmar Bergman's 'The Virgin spring', and concerns two young girls, Mhari and Phyllis who after trying to buy some weed on the way to a rock concert, are kidnapped by a particularly vile bunch of criminals. The thugs, led by the brutal Krug (who is wanted for the 'triple slaying of two priests and a nun') drive the girls to the woods which, unbeknownst to them, lie directly behind the house of Mhari's parents. The gang taunt, terrorise, torture and abuse the girls before finally murdering them. Needing a place to clean up and hide out, the killers seek refuge in what ironically enough turns out to be the house of Mhari's parents. As they come to realise what has befallen their daughter, they plan to exact their own violent brand of justice. I won't ruin the ending for you, but you can safely assume that in this dark tale, nobody wins. The director and producer of 'last house' wanted to lash back against the casual attitudes towards violence in Hollywood, and to make a film which really conveyed the agony of the victims. WIth its low budget, graiiny film stock, and an almost documentary feel to it, 'last house' achieves just that. Although the direction is quite crude, Craven still displays enough skill to provide many jolting scenes, and to generate suspense. The torture of the girls is graphic, horrifying, and far from titilating in any way. Even the most jaded gorehound would be hard pushed to whoop at any of t
he blood on show. This makes the film both powerful and affecting. The characters are all fleshed out, and as a result the fates of the girls are all the more shocking. Similarily, the killers are all more chilling for the human traits they betray: these are no laughable comic book maniacs like Craven's most famous creation, Fred Kruger. The acting backs this up, with believable performances from all concerned, with an especially fierce show from David Hess as Krug. The film's tone is relentlessly dark and downbeat. There is comedy in the film, but it only serves as a welcome lift to certian scenes, and never allows the films itself to waver from its disturbing course. The soundtrack too, with its haunting song 'The road leads to nowhere' provides a fitting accompanyment to the procceedings. I guess from this review, this film may not appeal to you, and if it doesn't, you probably should stay away. But for the others, this is an exceptional film, well made, shocking and throught provoking. It gets under your skin, and I promise you won't forget it. Whether or not that's a good thing is up to you.
Wes Craven's directorial debut was the controversial horror film "Last House on the Left", produced by Sean Cunningham. It was released in the US with the tagline "To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie... It's only a movie...'". The film has been submitted to the British Board of Film Classification for certification several times since it was filmed in the early 70s, but had been denied a certificate on each occasion. I recently saw the film at a presentation of "extreme" cinema at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (which has a licence to show uncertified films), and given the considerable hype that has surrounded the film because of its graphic depiction of violence and rape, I had prepared myself for a truly excruciating and discomforting experience. In the event, I really needn't have bothered. The film has existed in several different versions over the years. The original version is rumoured to be 91 minutes long, however, over the years numerous cuts have been made, chopping the film down to between 82 and 85 minutes, and these are the only versions available. The version I saw was a 85-minute cut, entitled "Krug and Company" rather than "Last House on the Left", and is believed to be the most complete version of the film in existence. Mark Kermode introduced the film with a brief talk, explaining that Sean Cunningham felt that he had to leave halfway through the film upon seeing it again recently. I can only assume that he was bored, rather than revolted by what happened on screen. I managed to sit through the whole film, as, I hasten to add, did most of the cinema's audience, though frankly I could have passed the time much better with a good book (or for that matter, a bad book). I think it's only fair to warn you that the plot of the film is very disturbing, even if the film itself really isn't. I present the entire plot
in the following paragraph, so if you don't want the film spoilt for you, then skip it. I do assure you, however, that reading it before seeing the film will not reduce your enjoyment of it one iota, since I've provided only minimal details of the actual killings in the film. The plot, or more accurately, what little of a plot there is, concerns a pair of 17-year-old girls, Mari and Phyllis, who go off to see a concert by their favourite band, Bloodlust, in New York City. On their way to the concert, they decide to try and "score some good grass", and stumble across Junior Stillo, son of recent prison escapee and murderer Krug Stillo. Junior leads them back to his apartment with the promise of drugs. However, when they get there, he locks them in with Krug, Fred "Weasel" Podowski, who escaped from prison with Krug and has a similarly reputable past, and Sadie, a girl who joined them after their escape. Junior is a heroin junkie, who is kept addicted by Krug so that he will do anything Krug wants. The girls are tortured briefly in the apartment, and the following morning Fred and Krug decide to flee New York City for the Canadian border, taking Mari and Phyllis with them in the boot of their car. In the mean time, Mari's parents call in the police to investigate her disappearance. Astonishingly coincidentally, the killer's car breaks down in front of Mari's house in upstate New York (wouldn't you believe it…) and the escapees drag the girls into the nearby woods, where they torture, rape and kill them. The killers then go to Mari's house to ask for help with their car, and Mari's parents, who are unaware of the killers' recent activities, offer to let them stay in the house. However, during the evening, Mari's mother recognises a necklace around Junior's neck as Mari's, and later overhears a conversation between the killers about having killed Mari. Mari's parents then proceed to
torture and kill Krug, Fred and Sadie in a series of unpleasant ways, just as the police arrive. Ultimately, the message of the film is that nothing positive is achieved through violence, since the film ends negatively for all of the characters. Frankly, this message has been better told a hundred times before. Probably the most pressing question is, should it be banned? Having seen it, frankly, I can't see any reason why it should be. It's certainly no more horrific than 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', and although there is some on-screen violence in 'Last House on the Left', it's surprisingly minimal. I really don't know why the film has been banned for as long as it has, there's far worse films readily available in the horror section of your local video store. Reviewing the film objectively, ignoring the fact that it was banned, it is a truly pathetic film. The plot is exceptionally weak and implausible, the script and acting are dreadful. Even though it was under an hour-and-a-half in length, the pacing was incredibly slow. The cutting was appalling too, possibly due in part to the butchering it has received in order to receive certification. OK, the budget was low, but so was that of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', but that managed to achieve tension and horror far more effectively than did 'Last House on the Left'. If it weren't for the nature of the violence that occurred in 'Last House on the Left', I would be tempted to describe the film as 'cartoonish', such was the ineptitude of the direction and portrayal of the violence throughout the film. There was nothing believable about the over-the-top acting, or the weak story. There's even some absolutely dreadful dubbing of one of the characters near the beginning of the film! Probably the weakest thing of all about the film, however, was the attempts to introduce moments of inane comedy between scenes
of violence, as we follow the bungling cops trying to investigate the mystery of Mari's disappearance. These broke up what little flow there was to the film – even Craven admits that these scenes were a mistake and really should be cut, however, if they were, the film would be less than an hour long. The film will finally be released on DVD in the US early next year, so if you want to get hold of it, it should be importable, though why on Earth you'd want to is beyond me. I think this is one of the rare cases where we should be grateful to the BBFC – not because they've prevented us from seeing a disturbing or corrupting film, but because they've saved us from a merely boring one.