The Last House on the Left - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Last House on the Left Reviews

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October 24, 2016
Wes Cravens first film is not that good, but not that bad ether. The acting is good but the film goes all over the place, like two cops trying to find Mari and Phyllis, to Krug and Company chasing after and killing and raping Mari and Phyllis. give an 7/10
October 12, 2016
Despite the film being outdated, to me, this is truly one of the most scariest and controversial films of all time.
It's disturbing, unnerving, and it really frightened me.
½ October 7, 2016
It was alright I suppose. It was disturbing in parts, but not at all what I was expecting. Certain elements in the movie are misplaced, such as the humour. I mean I just watched to women brutality die, and then I get treated to the two bumbling cops falling all over themselves. Just really odd.
September 29, 2016
I remember reading some stuff about this movie a while back and some people said this was a very disturbing film. It is disturbing but not like I thought...I guess for 70's standards it was though. I still enjoyed the film overall but it's outdated in my opinion. It's not one of those movies that holds up well. But it does have some creepy feel about it and the actors were pretty decent. 6/10 OR 3/5
September 28, 2016
This is not an easy film to watch. Even 40+ years after the initial release there are scenes that can still shock audiences. The downside of the film is that it is tonally scattered and feels rather amateur at times. 3 stars
September 10, 2016
A gritty horror masterpiece that still holds up today. It has a great atmosphere, score with a bloody and disturbing ending that won't disappoint.
August 30, 2016
The "classic" of the exploitation genre often remembered for its dark and incredibly bleak depiction of rape and revenge. These moments are shocking, horrifying, and just plain hard to watch. So in sort, it accomplished everything it set out to.

However, I have to say, there are many scenes that make the film seem very unorganized. Specifically all the comedic scenes of hippies stealing cop cars, baking cakes, and guys fallen off of chicken trucks. It seems way too out of the tone of the rest of the movie. I know that's probably the point, but it doesn't make it any less jarring. It's a film with an audience, but I definitely see more people disliking it than loving it, for many different reasons.
July 3, 2016
Almost turned it off.
½ June 27, 2016
Completely disturbing.
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2016
Exploitation is supposed to be fun, but there is no fun here unless you get off on seeing vile scenes of rape and brutality, and the movie is so trashy and tonally awful that it becomes bizarre the way it combines all that ugly violence with a ridiculous, childish sense of humor.
½ June 18, 2016
It's not great, in fact there's a whole lot of things that are wrong with it, but I couldn't help but be swept up in the film from its grueling woods abduction segment to its puzzling parental revenge finale. All of the elements that make so many people hate it fascinate me more than repel me.
½ April 27, 2016
The Last House on the Left (1972) ? 1/2
Wes Craven's first film is moderately awful shocker about two girls who are humiliated and murdered by convicts, and the parents who get sweet revenge. Interesting as Craven's first, and has its (admittedly) powerful moments, but it's cheap, repellent, and overall extremely uneven. Marshall Anker and Martin Kove are pretty funny as the policemen. Last 15 minutes or so should be the only thing worth seeing. Warning: This film is very graphic.
February 19, 2016
Here's a film it's fair to say I hate. Why do I hate it? It's really poorly made, and totally inconsistent in tone. But it's not just that ... it's inconsistent in ways that really ends up belittling and denigrating its victims. There's a kind of artless depravity to this that reminds me of the worst of Rob Zombie's puerile output. I kind of loathe every minute of it.
February 5, 2016
Surprisingly good early horror flick from Wes Craven. Much better than you would think actually. Sure you got a cheesy performance or two, but it doesn't really hurt the effectiveness that is created by Craven.
It's also pretty strange in that offsetting the scenes of rape and torture, are scenes are almost slapstick goofiness with the two bumbling officers and a slap your knee, twangy honky tonk soundtrack to boot.
But some of the scenes of torture are rough, though not as unsettling today as I'm sure they were in 1972.
In lesser hands I think this would've been just another campy horror flick like Friday the 13th or Sleepaway Camp or any number of the like, but in Craven's the movie rises above that and stands out as one of the best of that time.
January 16, 2016
It doesn't work quite as well in the 21st Century as it did in the 70's but Last House still packs a mighty gut punch of gore and violence to leave even the hardened horror fan flinching.
Super Reviewer
½ January 4, 2016
Tries way too hard to shock and disturb. This is a curious and quite strange film, that I'm sure will convince many people that it's really about so much......ah you know.......insightful and um important stuff. I didn't get it. And I'd frankly be suspicious of anyone who says they do.
½ December 21, 2015
Wes Craven's 1972 low-budget exploitation flick The Last House on the Left is a gritty, horrific and unrelenting exercise in cinematic transgression. The film is notorious for its radical exploitation of 1970s cinema's taboos around violence and gore, and it cultivated controversy in its release to the point where Craven was even shunned by fellow filmmakers and critics for making such a film - a testament to any truly transgressive horror film. This notoriety was a result of how Craven portrays extreme acts of violence and rape in shockingly realistic and confronting ways, pushing the limits of onscreen explicitness and brutality. The plot of the film is very simple, following two girls who are abducted by a group of criminals and abused, tortured and killed in the woods - the criminals then retreat to a nearby house, which happens to be owned by the parents of one of the girls. However, in the spirit of true exploitation fare, the appeal of the film is not its plot but rather the spectacle of graphic sadism and excess, fuelled by Craven seeing 'how far he can go' in the landscape of 1972 Western cinema. And in this respect, the movie is a fascinating viewing experience with great cultural insight.
But apart from its historical significance, the film is a hard watch. Even today, the ultra-low budget aesthetic and gory realism (enhanced by amateurish editing and a cast of non-actors) make it a disturbing and distressing but not necessarily enjoyable film. Even the revenge aspect of the story isn't as rewarding as one would hope, also unfolding with a sense of sadness and immense emptiness. But to be fair, these really shouldn't be points of criticism, but praise, since this was undoubtedly Craven's intention to be shocking, and in this respect he succeeded greatly with a truly impactful, nasty and scary horror film. As both the directorial debut of a horror icon and one of the definitive films of 70s exploitation cinema, The Last House on the Left is an important film and a staple for any horror fan, and it's cold and gritty bite still holds up today.
November 19, 2015
Like many movie lovers, I was deeply saddened by the recent passing of Wes Craven, one of the true masters of horror. He had a long and impressive career, and while he had mediocre films and misses, when his films hit they hit hard. The Last House on the Left is Wes Craven's first film, made in 1972, but it comes across as having been made by a skilled and seasoned filmmaker. The movie has the look of a low budget exploitation movie, but there are no cheap thrills to be found here. This is an intense, visceral thriller about the cruelty and violence of which human beings are capable. The horror in The Last House on the Left has nothing to do with the supernatural, it comes from the uncomfortable realism of the horrible, violent acts we see.

The first time I saw this movie was purely by chance. I was in college and my roommate and I were sent out by our friends to Blockbuster to pick some horror movies for the group to watch. It was Halloween night, so the horror section was well picked over. My roommate picked up the case for The Last House on the Left; neither of us had heard of it before, but it was directed by Wes Craven and the box had a quote from Roger Ebert: "sheer and unexpected terror." I can't remember the other movie we rented or if we even watched it. All I remember is how we all squirmed and turned our faces and swore at the TV. I remember one girl got up and left the room. I remember becoming mildly obsessed with the movie and reading as much as I could find on the film. I've only seen it one time since then and that was a week ago to prepare for this blog.

The Last House on the Left says it is inspired by true events, but it is actually a loose remake of Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring. The plot follows two young girls from the country that go into the city for a concert, but are kidnapped by a gang of ruthlessly cruel criminals. The girls are sadistically tortured, raped, and murdered. Then, by sheer coincidence, the criminals seek shelter for the night with the parents of one of the girls. When the parents find out, they unleash their own brand of revenge. The Last House on the Left was meant to be an exploitation film, loaded with violence and sex to sell tickets. It was produced by Sean S.Cunningham, who would go on to direct Friday the 13th in 1980, a movie primarily concerned with kills and special effects. There's certainly nothing wrong with slasher films like Friday the 13th and its many sequels that revel in gory moments and nudity, as long as they still entertain and commit to their lack of substance. The Last House on the Left certainly has all the elements of a sleazy, low budget exploitation film, but in going from script to screen it became something substantial and frightening.

The Last House on the Left has a grainy, unglamorous look and a cast of unfamiliar faces that give it a feeling of realism that becomes uncomfortable as the film unfolds. This is a violent film and though the gore we see is nothing when compared to modern horror films, it is far more effective, awful, and terrifying. When one of the girls is being stabbed we don't see the knife stabbing her, instead there are sharp, quick musical cues which somehow make the stabbing worse. One of the criminals is aware that what they are doing to these girls is absolutely wrong, but he's helpless to stop the others. Afterwards, there is a scene where a quiet moment passes among the criminals as they seem to realize the deep cruelty of what they've done. It was a scene that Craven says audiences hated because it humanized the killers. I think that humanization, slight as it is, is important because it forces the audience to accept that human beings, not monsters or devils, did these horrible things.

Watching The Last House on the Left is a tough experience. There are other horror movies with more blood, more gore, and more death that are easier to watch. The Last House on the Left, unlike slasher movies, takes no joy in the death scenes. Even when the parents exact their revenge, it's not as victorious a moment as audiences would expect. Craven does not shy away from showing us what we already know but don't consciously think about: it is a horrible, terrible thing to kill another human being. Craven has said in interviews that he is fascinated by what can come out of ourselves. He says that the Vietnam War was a big influence on The Last House on the Left. During that time it became normal to see dead bodies and lists of dead American soldiers on TV, and to see photos of, or hear about, atrocities committed by Americans. It's never good when any of that becomes normal.

Just after Wes Craven passed, NPR's Fresh Air re-aired a series of interviews in which Terry Gross asks him about The Last House on the Left. I always enjoy watching or hearing interviews with Wes Craven because he comes off as such genial, normal, and even shy person that knows a great deal about films and filmmaking. He tells a story of when he was a young boy and had a bow and arrow. He would go hunting for rats and usually never found any, until he did and shot one with his arrow. The arrow hit but did not kill the rat. It let out a horrible scream and bled and thrashed. It fought so hard for its life but it was wounded mortally, and the young Craven was forced to put it out of its misery. If that rat fought so hard for its life, Craven thought, then surely it deserved to live and if rats deserve to live unharmed then so do people. The Last House on the Left is so intense and disturbing because it has a message, and it is a simple one that Craven does not hit us over the head with or bury in symbolism. He lays it out plainly resting just below those moving images: human life is precious and we should all act accordingly, otherwise violence begets more violence and there is no victory for anyone in that.
November 10, 2015
The directorial debut of recently deceased horror icon Wes Craven, and undoubtedly one of the cheapest every made. Poor editing, sloppy camerawork, bad acting, laughably inane dialogue and a strangely incongruous soundtrack which feels as though it comes from a musical rather than an exploitation slasher flick. It's clear to see that many modern horror films got a lot of their conventional traits from it, such as the pretty girl in distress, knife-wielding psychopaths, authorities being unable to assist and the big, climactic showdown. Many parts are fairly graphic, leading it to be banned in over 30 countries upon its release, and the remainder are mostly either uninteresting dialogue or dire comic relief with 2 of cinemas most useless and unnecessary cop characters. Not Craven's biggest hit, and far from his best film, but I can at least see where 'I Spit On Your Grave' got its inspiration from, and that's far from a compliment.
November 5, 2015
The ultimate exploitation picture. But nobody did it with as much style, panache, gusto, bravery, intelligence, and structure than a young up and comer named Wes Craven. Long before he created Freddy Kreuger and proved himself to be one of horror film making's greatest auteurs. (while also proving himself to be skilled at non-horror movies such as the criminally underrated superhero movie "Swamp Thing" and the heartfelt and touching "Music of the Heart), he was just an anonymous porno director who sought to break out of the underground with something big and terrifying. The fruit of his labor is this film. The plot is bare bones: two girls go to concert, get kidnapped by an escaped group of psycho convicts, are tortured and raped and left to die, the criminals head down to a house not far from the scene of their horrific crimes, not knowing the occupants are the Mom and Dad of one of the dead girls, they make themselves at home, the parents discover who they are and what they've done, and decide to avenge their daughter. To me, the most shocking scenes of violence and terror are the ones in which the formerly meek and mild mannered average white parents turn into brutal and ruthless vigilantes in their personal quest for justice. The Mom's a good Christian woman, but after seeing her daughter's bloated bloody corpse wash up on the shores of the lake near their home, she decides to put into action one of the Good Book's oldest principals: an eye for an eye. That's a deepness the average exploitation flick (your "Reefer Madness" or your "I Spit On Your Grave") doesn't have the brains to achieve. Yes this movie is sick and twisted, and yes, you will wonder what is the true meaning of "right and wrong." But just like the trailer said, you'll witness the shocking events and calm yourself by repeating "It's only a movie. It's only a movie..."
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