Wes Craven's Last House on the Left has been praised as "digusting & depraved." Whether viewed as a case study in horror-film misogyny, or as a "fun" sadistic gorefest, it pushed the envelop in its day, & it would still upset anyone who'd never seen at least a samurai film disembowling.
It's not that it's a good film, but as a directorial debut of someone who made better horror films later, it is fascinating to see Craven's beginnings, as also the young Sean Cunningham, who later directed the first Friday the 13th film immortalizing Jason as Craven would immortalize Freddy of Elm Street.
And at least one impressed critic compared Last House to Pasolini's depraved Salo -- same critic who would make of it a fable of the Viet Nam era, a graphic piece of sleeze that couldn't've been filmed at all if American families hadn't been eating dinner nightly with the six o'clock news-reports of body counts.
That Craven has admitted his inspiration was Bergman's Virgin Spring also adds a level of intent to the film not usually expected of graphic-gore.
Now I can't go so far as to make it out to be an art film as some few have. It's a disgusting film worth watching in order to be disgusted. I would also praise it for its ability to disturb even fans of splatter films (not all such fans, some of whom are definitively cretins, but enough to give it a kind of cult status -- a status assisted by Craven for some while not permitting it to be distributed).
It does have its own moral sense, given that after the grotesque rape-murders, the criminals will pay for their sins, but more obviously no one will ever watch this for the morality aspect. I was pretty young when I saw it the first time in a drive-in, & though I was already a hardcore horror fan, I was not having a good time, at least not at first.
But there I was stuck in the car at the El Rancho Drive-in, called El Raunchy by everyone. In those days it cost like $2 per carload of kids so whoever had the biggest car would take everyone. This cheap drive-in would play quadruple-bills & hardly anyone could stay awake for the fourth film; House was probably the third of four when only the first two films really mattered.
"Let's go" I was griping, "This sucks, I'm bored, I'm sleepy, I wanna go home." No one agreed; the guys all wanted to see it. But then the mother lured one of the rapist-murderers into the woods. When mom took that big bite, that's when the guys in the car suddenly stopped laughing, & I decided I wanted to see the rest of the film, & thereafter I was the only one har-harring at apropriate moments.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl