Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Last House on the Left (1972) - DVD - 19/1/10

When two teenage girls head to the big city to attend a rock concert they run into serious trouble when an attempt to buy some marijuana leads to their being taken hostage by recently escaped convicts Krug and Weasel. After being tortured and murdered their tormentors end up in the home of one of the girls parents where they find themselves becoming "victims".

Horror historians campaigned long and hard for this film to be given an uncut release and have hailed it as a lost classic and very influential. The influence of the film is clear to see on many other horror films as well as such strange bedfellows as "Pulp Fiction" and "Home Alone"!

Despite its place as a video nasty and an important part of film history it has to be said that this is not a film that has aged well. It has a particularly childish tone, despite the unpleasant subject matter, which is surprising given that director (horror luminary Wes Craven) was 33 years old when he made it. The "horror" is diluted by a truly awful soundtrack and his insistence on shoe-horning in two comedy police officers at regular intervals despite the fact that they have no place in the narrative.

Many thinks improve with age; I'm just one example and their are many, many "old" films which despite being of their time lose nothing of their impact as time goes by (I'm thinking about "The Exorcist" which continues to shock and horrify despite the fact that it is very much of its time) but "The Last House on the Left" has simply taken on the look and feel of a student film project.

As a horror fan I have long had an interest in seeing this film but it did nothing to dispel the notion I have that Wes Craven doesn't make frightening films he simply makes b-movies that have none of the charm of that genre. That said there is no doubt that there is a dark and unpleasant heart to this film which without the Keystone Cops and hill-billy soundtrack may have packed more of a punch after all these years.


  1. As I've mentioned before, I know nothing about modern films and never go to any. But I do love some old films - I see you mention 'A Matter of Life and Death' as one of your favourites. Do you know 'Black Narcissus'? It is one their most brilliant. I saw it the first time in the Everyman cinema in Hampstead, and the impression is still with me.

  2. P.S. The most horriying film I ever saw was Michael Powell's terrible masterpiece. 'Peeping Tom'.

  3. I love "Black Narcissus" and you are right to mention "Peeping Tom" as a "terrible masterpiece". It is a truly terrifying piece of cinema. It effectively ended P&P as film-makers because it was considered so shocking on its release.