The Last House on the Left (1972)
Watched March 31, 2009
While trying to score some drugs, two teens get kidnapped, raped and murdered. After all the raping, the kidnappers need some place to stay, and unknowingly stay in the house of the girl they just killed. Needless to say, her parents aren't happy.
While "Last House" is somewhat disturbing and ahead of its time, it suffers from a over-abundance of unneeded comic relief and the fact that it really isn't that good of a film.
I had planned to watch the original "Last House on the Left" before seeing the remake. It was even on my Netflix queue. Fortunately, the good people at MGM-HD decided to play the film, so I recorded it and planned to watch it. I also planned to watch the remake when it came out on DVD, so I figured I had plenty of time to watch the original. But, things happen and I found myself going to see the remake in theaters, while the rest of my family went and saw "Knowing". I figured I'd save myself over two hours of Nicolas Cage acting, and choose the "LHOTL" remake instead. So, I saw the remake before the original, which I don't like to do, because it may make me enjoy the original less because I'll know what happens. Well, I never thought I'd actually be saying this, but it didn't really matter that I knew what happens, because the remake is a better film. Gah, I still can't believe I prefer a remake. I'm supposed to despise remakes! But, so far, 2009 is making me rethink my stand on remakes.
Enough remake talk! We're talking about the original "Last House" (not really original as it is a remake of "The Virgin Spring"); the one that started Wes Craven's career, the one that is supposed to be one of the most shocking, disturbing and hard-to-watch horror movies in history. To make a long story short, I think it's lost a lot of its shock value. I mean, it's not hard to see how this was shocking in the 1970s. People in the 70s weren't desensitized to extreme violence. But, in this day and age, we have more films that out-shock this one by far.
And since really the only thing going for this movie was its controversy, it makes it even more evident that this really isn't a very good movie.
The main thing wrong with it is that there is a distinct lack of consistent tone. The entire movie is basically teenagers getting humiliated and raped, but for some reason, there's some pretty happy, upbeat music playing during all of it. And in between all of the raping, there's some cops who drive right past the killers' car, drive back to arrest the killers only to find they didn't fill up their car with gas and then try to hitch a ride with some creepy black lady who loves chickens. At the very least, it's just distracting; but sometimes it's just incredibly annoying. Craven probably felt that the film was too grim (that's the only explanation for this crap I can think of), but c'mon. He couldn't think of another way to lighten up the tone without having fat cops falling off of cars? Really? C'mon.
Also, after the young girls are disposed of, we are "treated" to the parents getting their revenge on the rapists. This "revenge" basically amounts to smearing shaving cream on the floor and an awkwardly long and badly done chainsaw kill. Oh, and who can forget the mother giving one of the rapists a BJ, only to conclude by biting his penis off? This part of the movie isn't really even that gory, and is mostly just stupid. The best part of this half of the movie is actually a dream sequence, that unfortunately doesn't amount to anything. Damn. The remake does this a lot better, as it at least has exploding heads. I am a sucker for exploding heads.
And the acting is bad. Just a quick note.
Hmm... there's really no reason to watch this film unless you want to see how Craven got his start and/or you want to see the film that spawned the (superior) remake. I still can't believe I'm saying the remake is superior, but unfortunately the original "Last House" hasn't aged that well, and it's not as shocking as it was back in the day. If you're uninitiated with disturbing horror movies, this one's a pretty good starting point, though. But for the rest of you, eh. You can skip it, unless the curiosity gets the best of you or you really want to hear about how Mari's breasts developed over the summer. I think I give the film 2 chainsaws, but I'll give it the "Honorary Important Film" chainsaw, as it is actually a pretty important and ahead-of-its-time film. So, "Last House" gets a:
3 out of 5 chainsaws (AVERAGE)