Last House on the Left
Reviewed by Patrick Brogan
Rating: 8 Beans
watched this movie for the first time on the big screen a few weeks ago. The ad's claimed that this film was so "shocking" that is continues to shock people even today. Well after watching this film I was shocked, shocked that Wes Craven managed to continue his film career after this film. I'm not saying that Wes Craven is a bad director, but after watching this film, you too would be amazed that he went on to direct much more decent films like NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, SCREAM films, CURSED and MUSIC FROM THE HEART.
The plot involves Mari Collingwood (Sanda Cassel) who is going to a rock concert with her rather "wild" friend Phyllis Stone (Lucy Grantham). Mari's parents Dr. John & Estelle Collingwood (Gaylord St. James & Cynthia Carr) give Mari a gift for her birthday before she leaves, a peace symbol necklace. Mari and Phyllis arrive in New York City for the concert and want to score some pot. They talk to a man named Junior (Marc Shaffler) about where could they get some pot. Junior has the girls come up to his apartment where his father Krug Stillo (David Hess) and his friend Fred "Weasel" Podowski (Fred J. Lincoln) have just escaped from prison with the help of thier female moll Sadie (Jeramine Rain). Krug, Weasel, and Sadie enjoy having company, especially young teenage girls. They tie up both girls and go out to the country with them. As John and Estelle wonder where Mari could have gone, they contact the local authorities (Marshall Anker and Martin Kove). Martin Kove is famous for playing the "gung-ho" karate instructor in THE KARATE KID "YES SINSE!"
As the sheriff and deputy hear about the prision escapees and realize that a abandoned car they spotted belongs to the prison escapees, they go on a comical race against time to get to the area where they spotted the car, by the Collingwood house.
The prisoners, Sadie, with Junior following along, take Mari and Phyllis and have them do cruel and acts of humilation (including Phyllis urniating in her own pants). After the thugs have their fun with the girls, Phyllis runs off into the woods after telling Saide to run to her parents house and get help. Krug, Weasel, and Sadie catch up to Phyllis and kill her. Then despite much pleading and begging, the thugs kill Mari also. Then when returning to their car and having car trouble, the thugs decide to pose as legimate business people and go to the closest house for the night, the house of the Collingwoods! After John and Estelle find out what happened to Mari and Phyllis, they decide to take revenge into their own hands.
I do think the message of the film is good. But watching the rest of the film is pretty bad. The quality of this film is a step above home movies, and a step below pornography. What makes this movie bad is the acting. The acting by the actors, despite being amateurs is awful. A scene showing this is when Junior tells Sadie that "I always wanted to be a frog. That way I can go.. RIBBIT! RIBBIT!" Another scene of bad acting is when John and Estelle find the body of Mari who is dead, yet her legs are still moving. Then there is the hippie, love not war music over the soundtrack that is very laughable.
The film isn't that shocking by todays standards. I can understand it being shocking for the time, but saying its still shocking by todays standards is overrated. There are some scenes that come close to being shocking. One is when the thugs are traveling in a convertable, as Sadie has her skirt hiked up sitting right over the croch of Krung as he is screwing her and yelling at Weasel for distracting him. The other is the demise of Weasel by Mrs. Collingwood.
I can probably put that part of the blame on the films producer Sean Cunningham who later produced the FRIDAY THE 13th and HOUSE films, since those films are pretty bad. But then again, Craven did direct this film.
Seeing that this film has fans and a cult following bothers me. Yea, Wes Craven is a good director, but why is there a "Special Edition" of this film on DVD when there are much better films on the horror genre that are overlooked (like Nicolas Roeg's DON'T LOOK NOW for example). As I watched this movie in the theater, there were more laughs than frights. I can understand that this film might tries to be a spoof, but people were laughing at the wrong parts. Seeing this movie made me realize that if it wasn't for Kevin Williamson, all of Wes Craven's films would have had one thing in common: BAD DIALOGUE. Thanks to Williamson, not only did he give Craven a more respected career in the film industry, but better lines of dialogue.
Watch this film and see for yourself.
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