The Last House on the Left (1972) by Wes Craven

Director: Wes Craven
Year: 1972
Country: USA
Alternate Titles: N/A
Genre: Exploitation

Heading out for a party, a pair of friends get caught up in the activities of a gang of deranged thugs who proceed to humiliate and torture them before finally killing them, and once the thugs are done seek solace in her home forcing the parents to seek revenge on them once they find out.


This was an enjoyable if somewhat flawed effort. What really tends to work best for this one is the dirty and scummy feel that comes from the whole setup of the film. The initial stages here, the drug-infused culture of depravity and junkie culture that the thugs wallow in when first brought up in the projects apartment they hide out in, sets the stage to come for the big squirm-inducing sequence in the middle of the woods where it really kicks into high-gear in this department. Going from total degredation and humiliation to sexual abuse and other forms of mental torture that they inflict on the captured girls which is treated as a game for their amusement.

This carries on into the main segment that employs that kind of sleazy feel which is the scene of the groups vicious attack on the girls. The central chasing through the woods is rather fun from the ability to outsmart them and dodge their advances to getting close to escaping and getting brutally murdered in the end to the horrifying rape sequence that they endure on her which is all the more disturbing for how it affects the group as well. The act that follows which sets up the whole point of their revenge takes this to a whole different level and serves as the perfect launching point for the madness and mayhem to follow as not only is the act itself wholly chilling and effective but it's the kind of plausible scenario that ideally could set off a killing spree that comes later.

While the brutality of the final rampage is quite nice and generates some excitement in the action, that provides the first of the film's flaws. The action that comes about here is realistic which renders it quite sloppy and clumsy where it comes off looking staged and quite choreographed, especially with the slugfest that emerges here where they just start whaling on each other just slipping and sliding around the floor and it just gets somewhat comical to watch the two go at each. The battling with the ladies outside and how they manage to wind through the group isn't as rewarding as it should be which is quite disappointing.

The other big flaw to be had with this one is the fact that the comical interludes with the deputies is highly inappropriate and downright unbearable to watch at times. Their bungling isn't all that cringe-inducing the way it should be, but it's the suddenness with how this dives into their scenes being rushed up against the brutality of the other scenes just having been shown. To see a person get raped and then executed by a pack of brutal thugs is one thing, but to then play it up with a scene involving the inept cops falling off the roof of a chicken truck because their car broke down is quite an odd mix which doesn't always work and the constant cutting back to them or the parents setting up the party makes for an odd juxtaposition. Otherwise, there isn't a whole lot to knock this one down.

Overview: ****/5
Despite having a few minor problems throughout here, this one manages to feature enough of a scuzzy, grimy feel which helps to carry it along nicely. Definitely go for this if you're more of a grimy exploitation fan rather than the more polished works of the creative side, while those that are more used to those commercialized elements should still give this a chance if definitely heed caution.