A long, long time ago, long before Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street came around, Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham teamed up to create the “horror” flick, The Last House on the Left, a movie about torture, rape and revenge. One would think that two maestros of the slasher could put forth a serious effort, but surprisingly, The Last House on the Left almost seems like a black comedy, with a little bit of the nasty injected into it’s veins. Read on to see what I mean…
Release: Aug 30th, 1972
Run time: 84 mins
Starring: David Hess, Sandra Peabody
Director: Wes Craven
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: 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.
Tatlock’s Quick ‘n Dirty Review: I’ll be honest, these type of revenge/rape films are really not my idea of entertainment, but when you got the guys behind Freddy and Jason at the helm of the piece, you gotta give it a chance. In the end, I’m glad I did, cause it’s in no way a bad movie, but just an odd one. The choice of music by David Hess (who also played Krug in the movie), seems rather odd, but does an effective job at making everything, even you, feel just as out of place as the music does. The thing that really bothers me though, is the lame attempt at humour, mainly with the two bumbling police officers. Bordering on racist at some points, the attempts at humour fall flat on its face and goes to hurt the overall serious mood of the movie.
As for the torture and revenge, it can be gut wrenching at points, but it’s fairly tame in nowadays desensitized culture. Still, any movie that has any sort of rape and torture is hard to watch, no matter what is shown or not shown. The revenge portion though, was pretty interesting to watch and I could see bits of the future A Nightmare on Elm Street part where Nancy is setting up traps around the house. Very similar shooting and style, expect Nancy never bit off Freddy Krueger’s nasty bits (thank god for that).
I do want to point out that the acting from almost everyone, save any of the adventures of the cops, is fantastic given the budget, script and time period. I was pleasantly surprised with the killers of the film, especially the previously mentioned David Hess as Krug and Jeramie Rain as the batshit crazy Sadie. Also, the parents, played by Richard Towers and Cynthia Carr, did an admiral job at the revenge, but I do have to say, they took the torture of their daughter really damn well. Not a single tear was shed that day.
Verdict: The Last House on the Left is an early attempt from some cult icons, but with a lacklustre mix of unnecessary humour, the film isn’t the cult classic I thought it was going to be. I may get beat up here, but I think the remake did a better job with the story and really sold the revenge portion better. I do recommend it and I did end up liking it, but overall, I give it a middle of the road score…