Last House On The Left
Rating -

Horror / Crime (US); 1972; Rated R; 91 Minutes

David Hess: Krug
Ludy Gratham: Phyllis
Sandra Cassell: Mari
Marc Sheffler: Junior
Jeramie Rain: Sadie
Fred Lincoln: Weasel
Gaylord St. James: Dr. Collingwood
Cynthia Carr: Mrs. Collingwood

Produced by Sean S. Cunningham; Directed and Screenwritten by Wes Craven

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Written by DAVID KEYES

Picture it: two girls (one from the country and one from the city) go into town one night for a concert. It happens to be the same night when three vicious killers escape prison and head into town. What do you think are the odds for these teenage girls to get caught in their path?

With Wes Craven's "Last House On The Left," the odds are anything but slim. This is an artistically manipulative movie about the fears and aggressions people can go through when caught up in the wrong crowd. Like "The Exorcist," "Last House On The Left" exploits our deepest fears, so violently and repugnantly that afterwards we are forced to watch a movie more cheerful so we don't have a feeling of sickness flowing through us.

It stars Sandra Cassel as a teenage girl named Mari, who one night goes into town for a Bloodlust concert with her good friend Phyllis, played by Ludy Gratham. The night they enter town happens to be the same night when escaped murder convicts enter the vicinity, and before long, they find themselves in their demented possessions.

These four pigs kidnap the two girls, and lock them into the trunk as they are traveling a road up in the woods somewhere. Their car happens to break down right in front of Mari's house, and when they unlock the trunk, one of the girls bites a killer on the hand, thus setting off criminal behavior.

The killers drag the two, frightened girls into nearby woods, where they force them to perform lewd acts that cannot even be listed here. When Phyllis tries to escape, they viscously rip her open with a knife, tearing her from limb to limb, leaving her corpse to rot just off of the road.

Mari then tries to make a run for it while they are away, but when she is caught, they rape her, shoot her, and toss her body into the river.

After the four clean up, they seek shelter at the nearby house of Mari's parents, who are unaware that these are the sadistic people who killed their daughter and her friend.

During their stay, Mari's mother, played by Cynthia Carr, discovers a chain around one of the killer's necks (his name is Junior, by the way), and it happens to be the same chain that Mari's parents gave to her the night before.

You see, while the gang was killing Phyllis somewhere in the woods, Junior stayed behind to watch Mari, and she gave her chain to Junior in hope to earn his respect.

Junior happens to be the son of Krug, the leader of the gang. He was raised on Krug's drugs and alcohol, which brought up a kid just as sick as his father. Yet, He still had enough sense to know what was wrong and what was right, and he knew what the gang was doing to the girls wasn't right. Staying at When sleeping in Mari's house, he has dreams, watching the two girls getting killed, trying to stop the gang from torturing them. A few times, he was found screaming "I'm sorry!"

After Mari's mother realizes that they are responsible for her daughters death, her and her husband, Mari's father, played by Gaylord St. James, plot the ultimate massacre on these four, ruthless murderers, who are so psycho that I'm not even sure they really did exist.

You see, in the first shot of the film, a note comes up and tells the audience that the film is based on fact, and that only names have been changed to protect the innocent. I don't know if this is true, but if it is, the film makes logical sense of it; instead of containing just a series of sick and repugnant scenes of gratuitousness, the film is nearly told through the killers point of view. They are indeed sicko's, from top to bottom, and we believe it, because every second on the screen, they demonstrate how mentally disgusting a true killer can be.

Craven doesn't disappoint us, even with his obvious sense of a low budget. The film has severe technical problems, which are obvious from the way the camera swoops down on characters. This isn't a problem, though--it gives us a new feeling for the film, because it is unlike anything we've seen in horror. Perhaps if more horror films like this were made on very low budgets, with some sort of technical imbalance, they would be masterpieces.

That is exactly was "Last House On The Left" is: a cinematic masterpiece; an astonishing achievement; a landmark of horror that reaches into our deepest fears. Craven's recent successful films have this movie to thank.

1998, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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