Last House on the Left (1972)
[Editor’s note: since I like scary movies and I like October, I decided to continue on from Scary Movie October from last year. I haven’t had a ton of time to watch movies this month, but figured I’d review what I had time to review.]
Fred “Weasel” Podowski: I wonder what the meanest, foulest, rottenest, woodsiest sex crime ever was? Hey, Krug, what do you think the sex crime of the century was?
When asking for suggestions of scary movies to watch, I get this suggestion a lot. It’s written and directed by Wes Craven, and it’s from the 70s. Of course I’d love it, right?
This turned out to be quite a weird movie, and I wouldn’t completely define it as horror. Yes, there is an awful rape scene in the woods. Yes, there are people who are murdered with knives and guns. But it didn’t feel particularly tense, like movies with similar plots. For instance, the first time I watched Funny Games, I was completely terrified. I could barely watch as these two fairly normal looking dudes (except for the shorts) tortured and killed a family for no reason. My favorite types of horror movies tend to be the movies where the plot is completely possible– “it could be you!”– which is one reason I was really looking forward to seeing this movie. Instead, Last House on the Left felt goofy, which is not really a feeling I want from a horror movie. It completely missed the mark.
The three criminals and their “druggy” sidekick reminded me of something straight out of the old Scooby Doo cartoons, maybe mixed with soft core porn. I read on the Internets that many of their lines were improvised, and maybe that’s the issue– they suck at improv? I can definitely say that the choose of music was very curious. As the criminals sneak two women out of their home and into a convertible (sidenote: if you were on the run from the cops, would you ride in an open top convertible with a lady in your lap? I wouldn’t, but maybe that’s just me), very upbeat, almost circus-like music, plays. Is this what it’s like to watch the Three Stooges? I wouldn’t really know, but it’s what I imagine it is like. I know that Wes Craven can get a little goofy with his characters– I love Nightmare on Elm Street and I feel like Freddy Krueger always has his little one liner before slashing someone from limb to limb. It just didn’t work for me here.
The scenes in the woods where they brutally beat and rape two female characters are pretty brutal. But because of the setup of the characters I wasn’t particularly fearful, or even interested in what was happening. While these scenes happen, you see little clips with these two strange cops who may or may not understand what’s going on but also provide some completely unnecessary comic relief. Finally the characters rape and murder the main character. They cackle throughout the entire scene, and suddenly after the girl is dead their demeanor changes. Maybe they feel remorse? Maybe they want a do-over? Maybe they feel shame? I wouldn’t really know, because they don’t get into it any further.
By the time the viewer reaches the most dramatic part of the movie as the parents find their daughter, there is maybe twenty minutes left in the movie. You see a short little Home Alone-style montage as the parents realize that they’ve allowed these murderers to stay in their home and set up traps so they can more easily kill the trio. Why the parents let these strangers stay with them in the first place, I’ll never know. But they’re there, and the parents obviously must kill them. Boom, bam. It’s over. And then the cops walk in. Okay.
I hear this movie is a classic movie, and maybe it’s just because I’m particularly grouchy these days but I simply don’t get it. The good news is that it’s relatively short, but meh. I still wouldn’t waste your time on it.