I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack...just as I promised.
Keeping up with the current splash of remakes, I figured that I would revisit the old genre 'classic' that is Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left. This notorious rape/revenge movie has only just been released fully uncut in the United Kingdom. The version of the film that I am reviewing is the cut version originally released by Anchor Bay (now Starz).
Strangely on the poster (see right) It mentioned 'Mari, seventeen is dying...' however the girl in the image is actually Phyllis.
Much controversy surrounds this particular film, being deemed as one of the original Video Nasties. Being Craven's first film it was an excellent way to break onto the 'horror scene'. Remember kids any publicity is good publicity.
The plot centres on two girls; Mari Collingwood (Sandra Cassel) and Phyllis Stone (Lucy Grantham).
Mari is planning on celebrating her birthday with her friend Phyllis. The film starts of with Mari's parents expressing a distaste for the band she is going to see and her friend Phyllis, as it is suggested to us that she is from a lower social class. A small nod towards social stigmas and conflict between classes.
In the end they allow Mari to go, giving her a present just before she leaves...the peace symbol necklace.
A connotation of this could be that this part of the film is a 'coming of age' piece. With Mari's parents putting trust in their daughter and finally allowing her to mature from girl to woman. A couple of scenes after this Mari and Phyllis are in the woods, discussing the leaves changing colour because of Winter. Mari then notes that she has 'changed' this Winter too and feeling like a woman for the first time.
Mari and Phyllis head into the city for the concert. The idea of two girls heading into a big city can highlight their vulnerability. As they are driving to the city, we hear over the radio in a car of a recent break at a prison. The radio presenter then goes onto name the violent criminals as Krug Stillo (David Hess), his son Junior (Marc Sheffler), Sadie (Jeramie Rain) and Fred "Weasel" Podowski (Fred J. Lincoln).
We're then introduced to our antagonists and informed of their previous convictions.
The girls decide to look around for some Marijuana, making the mistake of asking Junior, who then leads them into the shit hole apartment they are laying low in.
Ironically during early scenes of this film, the parents of Mari are shown as being very loving towards their daughter. They're also shown to be quite peaceful and harmless. However at the end of the film we are shown the brutality a loving family can inflict.
Craven's use of fantastic shots and landscapes give a real sense of calm to the film before the film's turning point sequence.
Hess' portrayal of Krug is spectacular. He more so than the other's really brings life to his character. What the criminals subject to girls to in the woods is nothing more than savage torment and humiliation. As Krug, Weasel and Sadie all get a perverse amusement from watching and inflicting upon the two innocent girls.
As this film has been remade, I would love to see how they handle this scene nowadays. I don't think some how they would be able to match the rawness which makes this film so powerful.
After the first act of torment, Phyllis makes a run for it. A prolonged chase sequence ensues, resulting in Phyllis' untimely demise, where she is repeatedly stabbed by Weasel.
Mari also attempts to escape with the aid of Junior, unfortunately Krug stops them. He then carves his name into Mari's chest before she is raped and eventually shot.
Following this sequence, we are shown the local Police force who appear to be bumbling idiots. The scene some across comical in contrast to the latter. This could be to lighten the mood as the film would be so much more depraved without it.
Krug and his gang seek refuge in the nearest house...it just so happens to be the last one...on the left...As they are welcomed in they discover that it is the home of one of the two girls...Mari.
Mari's mother notices the peace symbol necklace on Junior, which was given to him by Mari. She also discovers their bloodstained clothes and overhears an argument between the group about the two girls. As her and Mari's father run to the lake they discover their daughter...dead.
The Police finally reach the house to find the parent's have slain the gang.
The final sequence is an act of brutal punishment carried out by the parents of the now dead Mari. Justice is served.
Being a solid entry into the genre Craven has delivered an interesting film with sickening performances from his cast, not to forget David Hess' brilliant music which was wrote specifically for the film.
My recommendations for someone to view this film are...if you like Wes Craven films and you've not seen this, check it out. If you like original revenge movies with minimal plot and a great pay-off when the criminals get their comeuppance, check it out.
I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack...just as I promised.