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Last House on the Left (1972)

Cast: Sandra Cassel, Sandra Cassel, Fred Lincoln, more...
Director: Wes Craven, Wes Craven
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: MGM
Genre: Cult, Horror, Quest, Revenge
Running Time: 84 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

Wes Craven's first film was a crude but shocking horror opus that, like George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968), became a grind house hit largely because it went much further than terror films before it had been willing to go. Often compared to Ingmar Bergman's stark medieval rape drama The Virgin Spring (1960) (though one wonders whether this was influence or just coincidence), Last House on the Left follows a group of teenage girls heading into the city when they hook up with a gang of drug-addled ne'er-do-wells and are brutally murdered. The killers find their way to the home of one of their victim's parents, where both father and mother exact a horrible revenge. Like Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre two years later, Last House on the Left was an unrelievedly dark vision of contemporary horror that inspired many future films which copied its effects without achieving its visceral impact. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

You might also enjoy:
Nightmare on Elm Street
Craven hit his stride with his first big commercial horror hit

I Spit On Your Grave
You want depravity, we got depravity

GreenCine Member Reviews

THIS is classic modern-horror. by AMacEwen3 August 4, 2008 - 6:41 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
I've got to defend the allegedly inappropriate musical score. Last House has a brilliant soundtrack by David Hess that sometimes works as an unforgettably effective counterpoint to the onscreen action, and at other times as a hauntingly appropriate analogue. Also, the humor in the scenes involving Krug's gang does not function as comic "relief." Unlike most movie monsters, Craven's outlaws are shown in a fully human, three-dimensional light -- and that means showing them joking around as well as terrorizing their victims. The result is jarring and disturbing, precisely as it is intended to be. The acting is surprisingly natural and affecting -- unless you're weaned on dung like I Am Legend and other Hollywood bores. The special effects are far more disturbing than anything that could be cobbled up with CGI, precisely because the effects are tactile. Latex and corn syrup, sure; but far more real than any computer generated flimflam. The story is far more complex thematically than it is given credit for, and Craven's direction, while primitive, is often brilliant in its impact. While I enjoy the Hostel and Wolf Creek movies and don't have a problem with them, they are essentially escapist and evasive, and therefore cannot be considered classic horror. THIS is classic modern-horror, because it forces you to look at brutal, ugly realities and won't let you turn your head or your mind away from them. While Craven's best film is probably Hills or Elm Street, the simple brutal impact of Last House has rarely been surpassed -- this, and its ability to tantalize the viewer's thoughts with the moral ramifications of the violence and perversion that lurk behind civilized facades, are the reasons why Last House gets under your skin and doesn't go away for days. The comic relief involving the bumbling cops the film probably could have done without; but even this needs to be understood in the context of the time in which it was made. These scenes reflect a cynical, twisted sense of humor so disillusioned that it is capable of juxtaposing slapstick with the horror and pain of the rest of the film. While Last House would have been better without those scenes -- I would have given it 9 stars instead of 8 if it weren't for that sub-plot -- the damage they do to the film has been greatly exaggerated.

Craven was an important, though wildly inconsistent, genre director up through his innovative New Nightmare. Everything since then can be taken and flushed down the toilet (Music of the Heart excepted). What a disappointment and a sell-out he turned out to be. But at least we have Last House on DVD -- in the most complete version that is likely ever to emerge.

Yeesh by toddandsteph October 26, 2006 - 9:28 PM PDT
0 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Last House on the Left: I hadn't seen this one in quite awhile, and when I saw the DVD in Target, I couldn't resist picking it up. Surprisingly, the movie's a bit better than I remembered it. All that keeps it from being tops in the horror canon of the 1970s was Craven's idiotic idea to insert comic relief and completely inappropriate music alongside the brutality of the rest of the film. Still, I can't pretend that I was pretty bothered seeing the absolutely brutal scenes in the woods. I forgot about that intestine bit...cripes! *** and 1/2 * out've *****

Good, but... by LCortez March 15, 2006 - 4:28 PM PST
1 out of 3 members found this review helpful
This movie promised everything that the synopsis offers...crude violence, sodomizing, and intense rape scenes. I personally enjoy watching these type of films that NEED CGI and computer affects to look good...just good 'ol fashioned syrup for blood and cheesy porno-type B-acting that enthralls us all.
This film DOES lack the entertaining luster that GREAT movies need to be A quality. The bumbeling cops and idiotic rapists make this movie just as much as a comedy as it was supposed to be a horror fim. So fo that, I give it a 7. Good, but not great.

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.17)
283 Votes
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101 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die
From the book by Steven Jay Schneider
Crash Course in Classic American Film (30s - 70s)
This list is from's article about Paramont Theatre's Summer Classic Film series. I thought their list and brief descriptions were pretty good so I put it up for all to enjoy. (Of course there isn't room for all the classics on one list.)

see all lists

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