Last House on the Left, The (1972)

Last House on the Left, The (1972)

“Are you sure we’re not going to put you folks to any trouble?”

During a trip to the big city, Mari (Sandra Cassell) and her friend Phyllis (Lucy Grantham) are kidnapped and tortured by a sadistic gang of escaped convicts (Davis Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, and Marc Sheffler) while Mari’s concerned parents (Richard Towers and Cynthia Carr) wait back at home ready to celebrate her 17th birthday.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Fugitives
  • Horror Films
  • Kidnapping
  • Revenge
  • Serial Killers
  • Wes Craven Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “repulsive, controversial cult film” — notorious as the breakthrough movie of writer-director Wes Craven and producer Sean S. Cunningham — “starts out humorously”:

… but quickly devolves into a middle section that’s “an outright embarrassment” and a “final section” that’s “hogwash”.

He accurately notes that the “humor [and] happy music are offensive”, that “you’ll feel ashamed to be watching it”, and (presuming you’re seeing it in a theater) you’ll “feel paranoid about the men around you who are grinning and taking delight in the girls’ torture.” He argues that the “major problem is that the film is so convincingly made — and the sadists and their victims so authentic — that the torture scenes really seem to be happening.” Remarkably (or, sadly, not so), the film has a significant cult following and was recently released on Blu-Ray. Regardless, as DVD Savant writes, “it’s still an indefensible carnival of cruelty and carnage, with unendurable pain and suffering meted out to two innocent girls by a quartet of pitiless human monsters.” Meanwhile, Howard Thompson’s review for The New York Times is worth copying here in its (short) entirety:

In a thing (as opposed to a film) titled “Last House on the Left,” four slobbering fiends capture and torture two “groovy” young girls who airily explore the bad section of a town and more or less ask for trouble. When I walked out, after 50 minutes (with 35 to go), one girl had just been dismembered with a machete. They had started in on the other with a slow switchblade. The party who wrote this sickening tripe and also directed the inept actors is Wes Craven. It’s at the Penthouse Theater, for anyone interested in paying to see repulsive people and human agony.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Decent production values

Must See?
No, though film fanatics may be curious to check it out given its cult status.


3 thoughts on “Last House on the Left, The (1972)

  1. ⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Grungy, nasty, sleazy reworking of The Virgin Spring (1960) is very uneven but is undeniably mostly pretty effective. One of the most significant horror films of the ’70s and as such a must see.

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