10/27/17 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE PICK #27 – Last House of the Left (1972).

Mixing it up again. Yesterday was a PG-13 flick everyone can enjoy. Today… not so much. Wes Craven’s very first film, Last House on the Left, is for the truly hardcore horror crowd only. In fact, I feel like I need to label this one with a completely unnecessary, but obligatory, warning. Those in the horror circles obviously know this movie. Those that aren’t, well, this is not an easy movie to stomach. It’s nihilistic to the extreme. It’s full of horrific violence, manipulation and rape. It’s really difficult to watch, but there’s a reason it’s considered a classic. There’s a reason I’m putting it on this list. And there’s a reason I recommend it to specific people. It’s because Craven did something totally different and original with this film. It sticks with you. Because of the constant juxtaposition between the extreme subject matter, and the way in which the film treats it, the result is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Last House on the Left is about two young girls heading to a rock show, but along the way they get abducted by a family of sadistic criminals that subject the girls to a series of disgusting and degrading acts. Yes, these acts will totally repel you, but the thing is, this type of revenge film requires these acts to be horrific so that when the criminals finally get their comeuppance, it’s all the more satisfying. It’s very much along the lines of other 70’s exploitation revenge flicks like I Spit on Your Grave (although Last House came out first), but this one has a twist. The twist is that aforementioned juxaposition. See, the material is sick and disgusting and soulless. Yet, the film itself plays almost like a wacky 70’s sitcom. One second it’s awful. The next second it’s filled with wacky music and cuts away to a few over-the-top zany characters that just happen to be the police. Every time the police is shown they’re bumbling like the Keystone Cops. Then when we go back to the criminals and the women, we’re right back in Hell. It’s constantly off-putting, but the result is something larger than its parts. You can tell Craven was actually trying to say something with the extreme subject matter and how it was treated. And by the time the turn-the-tables 3rd act comes along, you’ve never rooted for characters more in your life. The 3rd act twist is what this movie is usually remembered for, and it’s for good reason. It’s NOT where you expect this film to go, and yet you’re SO in when it does. This film is filled with awfulness, but it’s so much more than just a shock value film. For those of you that dare, it’s an experience that will definitely make you think and ponder what Craven was trying to say. I have my thoughts, but I’ll let you conjure your thoughts and feelings on your own.

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