I would use a catchy tag here like “To avoid fainting keep repeating it’s only a blog..it’s only a blog” but I’m afraid that has already been used by a blog much more well known than mine.
The Last House On the Left (1972)
Directed By: Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes)
I should probably label a certain group of films I watch as “Hell In A Hand basket” films because after you watch them that’s where you get the feeling your probably going. This movie would be an member in that group without a doubt.
Well known to pretty much anyone who knows their horror, first released under a number of other titles early on such as “Krug & Company”, “Sex Crime of the Century” and “Day of Vengeance” the film that would finally be known as “The Last House On The Left” would be the directing debut of Wes Craven, the man known by most the young folks out there as the man behind “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and of course “Scream” for you even younger people. And he comes to us with all out, pure violence of the both physical and psychological kind here..But does the film offer much more than just shock value?
Much in the same vein as “I Spit On Your Grave” that came out later in 1978, this film isn’t pretty. A pair of teenage girls are headed to a rock concert for one’s birthday. While trying to score marijuana in the city, the girls are kidnapped by a gang of psychotic convicts..And I guess from that alone you can pretty much fill in the blanks for yourself.
The gore in this film isn’t over done, but what it leave to the imagination can be worse. Not that you don’t get any gore at all because this movie has it, and when it has it it’s truly disturbing even if it’s not what you’ve come to expect with today’s horror movies. What you do see I find pretty haunting to say the least. Taking hostage two girls then later asking one to urinate in their own pants or they’ll cut her friend is just a small example of the stuff that goes on in this film..the other things much worse.
The acting is good as well as you do feel sorry for Mari (Sandra Peabody) and Philis (Lucy Grantham) even though they get themselves in the mess by being stupid. As for the other side of the things the crowd of psychos they run into Krug, Weasel, and Sadie are all played well by the actors to. And if one didn’t know better they’d believe these folks really were crazy. The parents of Mari are great especially her Mother when it comes time for them to turn the tables later in the film. I think they both flip that side of them on pretty well…Plus we can’t forget Junior either who is the junky son of Krug, he’s played by Marc Sheffler and he holds up his end of things to.
Now..with all due praise withstanding their are a few things that are bad and stand out really bad to me. At times the film tries to be a little too “cute” with the dialogue and the “witty” lines the characters say. The two Police officers that were tossed in for purely comic relief stick out like a sore thumb and really aren’t needed at all. Comic bits work in a horror film that is more of a dark comedy, such as “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”. Here in this film there is just too much serious and horrible things going on for the comedy bits to do anything else other than make you feel more dirty for watching it..perhaps that’s the point?
The other gripe I have with it is the at times almost “sitcom” like soundtrack. Now let me make this clear, some of the songs like “The Road Leads To Nowhere” is fine and fits just fine, but the little almost cartoon like numbers and bits that play at times during certain parts of the movie make it sound as if your watching a public service announcement from hell it’s self. And in the end, maybe that’s just what “Last House On The Left” is?
It’s solid, it’s disturbing, it’s a good horror film, but it also shows it’s age a lot now days. But that’s just in setting alone. The stuff that goes on in this film is still enough to make the average person feel like they are torturing the people on screen themselves just by watching it. Even the most exposed of horror fans will still find the stuff at times uneasy to watch..trust me on that.
However, while it is a very good film it just doesn’t match up when compared to many horror films that’s came out over the ages, even being long passed up by other works of Craven himself. Yet still worth a watch, and if you have children be sure to show this to them right when they hit that age where they want to hang out and party all night..It might just scare them into being a lot smarter.
The Rating (7/10)