filmfan09 - wrote on 03/16/09
This 1972 verison is Wes Craven's debut film that was inspired by the Swedish art-house classic 'The Virgin Spring' (Oscar winner for best foreign language film), which I own and seen many of times. Many people say that Craven's movie was a remake of 'The Virgin Spring' but it's not. 'The Virgin Spring' was set in medieval Sweden and was a revenge tale about a father's merciless response to the murder of his daughter. 'The Last House on the Left' loosely follows a silmular story with a girl Mari Collingwood (Sandra Cassel) celebrating her 17th birthday by going to a concert with her friend, Phyllis Stone (Lucy Grantham). Lured to an apartment by claims of marijuana for sale they are immediately trapped by escaped convicts. The criminals drive them out to the woods and kill them. Before this, the culprits' car breaks down near the Collingwood home, where later on Mari's polite parents let them stay overnight, but realize exactly who their visitors are and what they done.
Last House on the Left is considered as a `grindhouse' hit; a few appreciative critics call it a classic while others condemned it as vile garbage. However you see it, audiences went to see the film. Even though it has poor production values and community-theater acting this movie, along with films such as 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre', are credited with bringing a new sense of realistic violence to the modern horror film genre. Also this movie led Wes Craven to direct many popular horror films including The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream.
Still, it takes an effort for modern viewers to look past the outdated hairstyles, muffled dialogue, primitive visuals and a wildly uneven grab -bag of soundtrack songs, ranging from spacey hippie ballads to a jug-band and kazoo. Even the moments of would-be comdey can be painful to watch with the cops protrayed as bumbling fools. The theme of the movie is revenge. The savage violence,conveyed mainly in reaction shots and quick cutaways, is still distrubing to this day. With shootings, knifings, beatings, an electrocution, an attack with a chainsaw. The girls stripped naked, and subjected to torment and sadistic humiliation by the gang. One character is bitten in the penis during an act of oral sex and a youth shoots himself in the head. 'Last House on the Left 'was a dark vision of contemporary horror that inspired many future films which copied its effects without achieving its visceral impact. The film is not for all tastes, but I find it a must own film for any true horror fan.