MOVIE REVIEW: Last House on The Left (1972)

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With the passing of Wes Craven, I've been going back through a number of his films that I haven't seen in a while. With that in mind, please know that I mean no disrespect to the man at all with the words you're about to read here about his infamous debut feature film. Anyone who knows me well knows my feelings about The Last House on the Left, and in retrospect, it's easy to see why, too, especially when you watch this movie again if you haven't seen it in a long time.

Keeping all that in mind, I'll say here and now (and again for anyone that actually knows me) that I fucking hate this movie so much. I really, truly do. I hate everything about it (almost). From the super out of place goofy interludes featuring bumbling Podunk cops, to the flat out atrocious dialogue, I despise this movie and I'm not afraid to say it. Not one fucking bit.

All that being said now, I will also say here and now that I respect Wes Craven's original The Last House on the Left, because despite how much I shit on it, it remains a powerful film that was a product of its time. It also set the beginning stage for one of the biggest and most revered directors in modern horror history. So yes, I respect this movie and loathe it all in the same breath.

You all know the film's synopsis by now, so there's no need for me to go through it again. What I will say is that this re-working of Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring still manages to pack a punch all these years later believe it or not. That scene where Mari, knowing she's going to die after being brutalized by Krug and his crew, walks out into the lake and awaits being shot to death, is truly a powerful piece of filmmaking. The late David Hess, who would end up making a career out of playing sick fucks, is a terrifying villain. Other than those two pieces of the film, I can't stand the rest of it. To this very day, I still can't.

Now, as a die hard horror nut, I've seen much worse films that feature much more graphic cruelty and violence, but I have a hard time watching rape scenes in ANY film. I often get a lot of shit from fellow horror fans/friends of mine because I won't watch A Serbian Film or the August Underground flicks. I just can't do it and I fucking refuse to as well. With The Last House on the Left, the brutality on display here is relatively tame compared to what we've seen in the years to come since its 1972 release, but it's the way the film is shot that has always made it so disturbing to me. The film's low budget and Craven's ingenuity give it an almost pseudo-documentary feel, much like Tobe Hooper would do with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre just a couple of years later. That gritty sense of realism makes it all the more disturbing. I can mostly deal with that, but when you get the aforementioned scenes of bumbling idiot cops (complete with bumbling idiot music), the overall effect gets lost. You wind up thinking to yourself, "what the fuck am I watching? Is this a super dark comedy or some shit?"

So yeah, that's my thoughts on Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left. No matter my feelings towards it, I have the utmost respect for it, and I always will. Thankfully Craven would end up refining his style and churning out some genre classics that we all know and love, but everything began here with The Last House on the Left. That alone is reason enough for you to see it if you've never dived into it before, but don't expect to keep it around for repeat viewings.

My honest rating: 2/5

Legacy rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee

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