The Last House On The Left (1972)
aka THE FUN HOUSE
Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Wes Craven
Based on 1960 screenplay by: Ulla Isaksson (Virgin Spring)
Probably one of the most disturbing films on the Video Nasty list, this is Wes Craven’s first film and, while it shows, it’s a pretty damn effective film. Based on Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (if you can believe that), this is the story of bloody revenge. Two young girls are brutally raped and murdered by a gang of thugs. (Of course, the girls were pretty stupid. “Let’s go with these weird guys for some weed!”) These thugs then end up at the house where one of the girls lived. The parents figure out what happened and who did it and then take their revenge…and end up possibly being worse than the thugs themselves.
Certainly not a Great Film, but it works really well for what it is. It’s dirty, disgusting, hard to watch and absolutely essential for anyone who loves horror films. It’s probably the beginning of the “torture porn” genre. (Since I don’t think “porn” is a dirty word, that phrase kind of works for me.) This is not a film to watch while you’re having dinner. The scenes with the girls getting tortured and killed are among the most disturbing that I can remember and they pull no punches. But this only sets up the scenes with the thugs getting their just desserts. We can identify with the parents and want them to do their worst to these guys. Although…this is pretty uncomfortable, too.
The acting is kind of rough, but it works in a weird sort of way. The best performance is probably from David Hess as leader, Krug. (He was named after an old school bully who used to beat Wes up. A later Craven character was, of course, named after this same bully.) He is so evil and hateful that you can believe him to be the kind of man who would tell his own brother to shoot himself.
Don’t watch this movie unless you’re ready for it. It will fuck you up if you are at all sensitive. But, if you aren’t at all sensitive to this sort of thing, then you should probably get yourself to a therapist.
LOW POINT: Pretty much the whole damn thing. This is a pretty deeply disturbing movie that never truly lets up, so, yeah. I think the whole thing counts as a low point.