The Last House on the Left (1972)
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as Phyllis Stone
as Mari Collingwood
as Dr. Collingwood
as Mrs. Collingwood
as Truck Driver
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Critic Reviews for The Last House on the Left
It isn't artistically adroit, but if success in this genre is counted by squirms, it's a success.
Craven's cold, flat style of filming emphasises the fact that the violence dehumanises not only the victims but the aggressors.
The party who wrote this sickening tripe and also directed the inept actors is Wes Craven.
A tough, bitter little sleeper of a movie that's about four times as good as you'd expect.
Audience Reviews for The Last House on the Left
This is the infamous movie that spawned one of the best taglines of all-time (the trailer warns the viewers to reiterate "it's only a movie"). While it isn't as crushingly scarifying as the promotion might indicate, 'The Last House on the Left' is unflinchingly brutal. The cinema-verite method really enhances the amateurish production value and the performers seem remarkably unrehearsed. "The Road Leads to Nowhere" is the perfect anthem for the film's prescient opening over salacious shots of Mary in the shower. Any other misogynistic exploitation film would linger on the nudity and infer that Mary's promiscuous outfit was the catalyst for her rape and demise. Instead Wes Craven counterbalances the female credulity with an incisive social commentary on the backfiring of the Flower-Power Era. Lest anyone suspect that the movie is without shortcomings, the cutaways to a buffoonish sheriff and deputy are tonally excruciating slapstick. The revenge elements in the last act are not handled with a pandering, crowd-pleasing sensationalism. When the parents finally retaliate against the attackers, it is a pyrrhic victory since their proactive stance of eye-for-eye cannot resurrect the two girls who were slain. While the film is certainly lopsided due to the Keystone-Kops antics, 'The Last House on the Left' is an underrated entry in the lost-innocence subgenre.
I know I saw them backwards, but I must compare this to the remake. It's like a cartoon compared to that film. The tone is all over the place, going from comedy to thriller in an instant (not successfully I might add), the acting is pretty awful, the story is not as compelling (they changed things in the remake and it was definitely better), and the overall feel of this movie is just so cheesy sometimes. The soundtrack is out of place with what the film is depicting and is just laughable. This is a 70's low budget B movie in vein of Romero, but it's not good. It's fairly entertaining, but for all the wrong reasons. Everything that was good about the remake (well shot, edited, and acted) is exactly what is wrong with this one. I will give it points for pushing the envelope of the film industry though. Wes Craven has done much better films than this one.
A horror film in the true sense of the word. This is one of the finest low budget grindhouse/exploitation films ever made. It's not all that dissimilar from many of those films, a great deal of which are far inferior, but what sets this films apart is that it makes an effort at having artistry, albeit slightly.
This is an all together gruesome affair, but the film hits the audience with more than just a visceral punch to the gut. It hits hard emotionally and mentally as well. You could write an academic essay arguing how morality plays into the film, and could easily provide an argument defending what Mari's parents do as justifiable, even though what they do is almost as bad as what Krug and Co. do. The fact that the audience can identify with the girls and feel sorry for them is what makes this an unforgettable and terrifying film.
It's low budget and the time period that it was made are easily seen, but those are forgiveable if everything else works, but also can help a film at times, giving it a more raw and messy feel that only adds to the atmosphere. As horrifying as the film can be, something does stick out.The music is rather contrasting, leading to a very mixed film tonally. Use of contrasting music doesn't always pan out successfully, and I wonder why the film couldn't just pick a tone and stick with it. That's pretty much my only real issue though.
If you can find this one, give it a shot. It's by no means perfect, but is certainly a great work nonetheless.
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