Last House on the Left (1972)

Genre: Horror

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Wes Craven

Starring: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David Hess

Rating: ★★★★

Wes Craven’s first film was a real controversial release which saw it banned for almost 30 years within the UK, but Last House on the Left is now a cult classic and a piece of horror history which has since shaped the genre.  A somewhat sick but clever and inventive story alongside amateur directing and acting give this film a feel which only emphasises its outcome which is no less than horrific. Although some aspects are lost due to its old release date and technology, it is still very entertaining and a successful horror which even today would be a big hit.

The story follows two teenage girls Mari Collingwood and Phyllis who for Mari’s birthday are heading to a rock concert but stopping in the city to attempt to “score” some drugs the pair are kidnapped by a gang of prison runaways, gruesome killers and psychos led by Krug who’s wanted for the killing of two nuns and a priest. As they are flung into the back of a boot the gang drive them into a forest which looks onto Mari’s house, unknowingly her parents are in walking distance away from their daughter Mari who watches Phyllis get mentally tortured.  After Phyllis is brutally killed, Mari attempts to escape but it leads to her rape and death. As night approaches the gang clean up and look for a place to stay, unknowingly they come across Mari’s house and manage to stay the night but Mr and Mrs Collingwood become suspicious. Eventually finding their bloody clothes and their dead daughter in the opposing lake, the two set on a night of gruesome revenge which involves chainsaws and blown out brains.

The story is something that even with modern releases is still labelled and seen as “sick”, Wes Craven creating something truly horrific and gruesome.  However it is something that leaves you really intrigued and somewhat satisfied as you see the revenge comes about to the gang of killers. The idea of Mari’s parents being so close to the murders whilst also setting up a birthday surprise is something which adds to the horror. The only slightly annoying and flawed element to Craven’s plot is the inclusion of two comic relief cops who are truly hopeless, and in a way remove some of the tense atmosphere and terror away from the real events.

The acting is somewhat amateur alongside the direction however with a documentary type feel it puts us as an audience right in the front seat witnessing the brutal events first hand. More so how we connect more with the gang of psychotic killers leaves an unnerving after effect once viewed. Last House on the Left for a very low budget and old film is still creditable. The most stand-out element away from the story for me is the soundtrack and “theme song” which once properly heard is sickening as it explains the story of two girls getting raped and killed to some very happy carnival type music – “have some fun with these two lovely children and off them as soon as we’re done”

There is no surprise to why Last House on the Left got banned however it is a truly great classic horror which is probably one of the most gruesome films I’ve ever seen due to such a slightly disturbing story from Wes Craven.  Although a product of its time which effects how watchable it is, Last House on the Left deserves its “cult classic” status as it a bloody, gruesome horror which is entertaining for all the wrong reasons, one not to be enjoyed.