With all the hoopla surrounding Wes Craven, the alleged king of modern horror, I thought I'd take a stroll down memory lane into the past endeavors of Mr. Craven. So why not start at the beginning? His first, and still most controversial film, is LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. A revenge tale which is oh, so 70s, this film is pretty much hated by most of the critical and sane world. However, it is interesting to note that Roger Ebert loved it and highly recommends the film. My conclusions were somewhat mixed, but maybe after I tell you a bit more of the plot you can decide if it’s something that appeals to you. It probably will, you sick sick bastard…
A gang of misfits is "on the loose" after having broken out of prison. They were initially arrested for murder, rape, and all that good stuff. Now they are hiding out in the city in a place the cops would never think to look for them (a hotel room). At the same time a pair of nice teenage girls from the country comes into the big city for a rock concert. The young ladies come across the four gang members (a father and son, another bad dude, and his woman) and are duped into believing they are drug dealers. This misconception leads to the gang kidnapping the two girls. Of course, we are meant to sympathize with the predicament of these two girls. But I’ll be honest, it’s difficult after witnessing their extreme stupidity and willingness to fall for the most transparent of schemes.
The gang then escapes into the country with the two teenagers in tow. After their car breaks down, the action moves to the forest, where the gang rapes, abuses, and does other assorted terrible deeds to the two girls. These are quite degrading and not for the most sensitive of souls, culminating in the forcing of one girl to wet her pants. A failed escape attempt leads to the death of one girl, and the second, named Mari, is subsequently raped. This leaves Mari in such a daze that she tries to drown herself in a creek. The gang members, however, shoot her dead before she can successfully commit suicide. Don’t bring Grandma to this movie.
After this half of the movie is complete, the gang members stumble out of the forest and into the house of a nice, middle-aged couple who welcome the four sicksters into their home. Here's the twist: the couple is worried about their missing daughter Mari. Yes, you got it, the same Mari who was killed by the gang.
The older couple figures out the truth fairly quickly, and then it's time for revenge, which as the Klingons say, is a dish best served cold. Well this dish is served at sub-zero temperatures. Let’s just say, of the various bloody and inventive means of revenge, my favorite was oral castration.
After all is said and done, this is, in fact, a poor film. The movie looks terrible, the acting is execrable, the folky/70s rock music is annoying, and the film has no sense of timing. There are these random scenes of two cops continually inserted to lengthen the film to its whopping running time of 82 minutes. For anyone who appreciates quality, this movie gets one star.
However, there is something kind of fun about LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT that I must acknowledge. The film is so ridiculously 70s, that it's almost funny. The editing, filming, acting, and music are so bad that it becomes enjoyably trippy. Far be it from me to espouse drug use, however, let's just say if you lined up to see "Half-Baked" or "How High" on opening night, you might frequently find yourself in a condition which might make this movie fun. Also, there's a sort of sick pleasure in watching the revenge take place.
So, in summary, for sick freaks and those in chemically-altered states, this movie gets three stars. And my rating…?
RATING: *** (out of four)