The Last House on the Left (1972) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
484 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
A landmark horror film which is still as powerful and disturbing as ever.
Infofreak14 June 2003
'The Last House On The Left' is easily Wes Craven's most important movie. It was one of the most notorious movies of the early 70s but seems to be half forgotten now, despite being a groundbreaking horror film that opened up territory that had previously not been seen on screen. Romero's 'Night Of The Living Dead' deserves some acknowledgement as being the most realistic horror movie up until that point (the late 60s), but even that had a supernatural element, something 'Last House On The Left' eschews. Craven took the contemporary setting and natural performances of NOTLD and added some graphic violence and a confrontational rape sequence, most likely inspired by Peckinpah's 'Straw Dogs' released the previous year, and made it into something quite unlike anything seen before. This made it the father of all subsequent serial killer dramas. 'Last House...' is still a very nasty and disturbing movie thirty years after it was originally released. Craven was a beginning as a film maker and the budget was minimal, so the movie is rough and crudely made at times, but the best sequences have an almost documentary feel which gives it an appearance of realism that makes it sometimes really difficult to watch. The acting in the movie is variable. Mari's parents and the comic relief cops (who include Martin Kove later to appear in 'Death Race 2000' and countless action movies!) are pretty awful, but the two girls (Sandra Cassel and Lucy Grantham) are both very natural and believable, and Craven REALLY lucked out with Krug and his gang who are all very, very good. Krug is played by David Hess, who also composed and sang the songs on the soundtrack, something which makes him pretty unique! Hess wrote Elvis' 'All Shook Up' and 'I Got Stung' and yet his performance as Krug is totally convincing. Krug is still one of the creepiest and most repellent killers ever seen on screen. Comedian Marc Sheffler gives an interesting performance as Krug's junkie son, Fred J. Lincoln (now a porno director I believe!) is excellent as the aptly named Weasel, and Jeramie Rain is surprisingly good as Sadie, who brings to mind some of Manson's girls. These four actors are outstanding and really help make the movie into an unforgettable experience. Their scenes in the woods with the girls are still as powerful and disturbing as ever. 'Last House On The Left' is hardly the kind of movie you "enjoy" but I think it's a very important movie, and still the best thing Wes Craven has been involved with. It's really quite difficult to believe that Craven made something so uncompromising and nasty as this! I highly recommend 'The Last House On The Left' to anybody interested in the development of horror, screen violence, or disturbing movies of any kind. But be warned, it is NOT easy viewing and may be difficult for many people to take. I think it is worth it as it's still an extraordinary piece of work!
33 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The most flawed masterpiece of all time
Robin-977 September 1999
Warning: Spoilers
"Night of the Living Dead" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" are two films that received a unanimous critical bashing when they were first released, but are now looked upon as ground-breaking horror masterpieces. That is also a classification that could be used to describe Wes Craven's "Last House on the Left", but after 27 years, the film still hasn't quite gotten the respect it deserves, and its greatness only seems to be recognized primarily among horror fans. While it is certainly not Craven's most polished film, I still consider it to be his best, and indeed, Craven has acknowledged many times that he doesn't even want to ATTEMPT to equal it. "Last House" was the first movie that aimed to show an audience what the REAL effects of violence were and the low-budget, documentary-like realism that Craven brought to the proceedings allows it to pack a bigger punch than a thousand professional studio films ever could. Yes, the movie has more than its fair share of flaws, but it is a measure of the film's power that one can easily overlook them. The most flawed masterpiece of all time may be a strange way to describe a film, but that would be an accurate way to describe "Last House on the Left".

As virtually everyone knows, the basic plotline is a reworking of Ingmar Bergman's "Virgin Spring", but Craven does a superb job of translating the story's details to a 1970s setting. Two teenage girls, Mari (Sandra Cassel) and Phyllis (Lucy Grantham) go into the big city for a rock concert, only to encounter three of the most memorable villiains in film history: Krug (David Hess), Weasel (Fred Lincoln) and Sadie (Jeramie Rain), who are also accompanied by Krug's heroin-addicted, guilt-ridden son, Junior (Marc Sheffler). The gang of escaped convicts kidnap the girls and proceed to rape and murder them, but when they seek shelter at the nearest house, they are stunned to find that their hosts just happen to be Mari's parents - who unleash violent tendencies that they would have never thought possible once they discover that they are housing their daughter's killers.

The long, painful section of the film where the killers torture and murder the girls is where "Last House on the Left" impresses the most. Before these scenes, the villains have been presented as normal, funny, almost likable individuals, which makes their despicable actions all the more shocking. Craven shoots the scenes of degradation with the raw feel of a documentary, and while this is mostly due to his minuscule budget and lack of filmmaking experience, it lends an uncomfortable air of authenticity to the events. He also demonstrates his ability to toy with the audience's emotions by intercutting the horror with slapstick scenes involving two inept cops who run into all sorts of misadventures while searching for Krug and his gang. While the idea of mixing the violence with humour is an effective one (and works well during some of his climactic scenes), the cop scenes are done in such broad, over-the-top fashion that they provide way too much of a contrast with the film's disturbing moments. However, when the girls' death scenes do occur, they are protracted and extremely intense, and during the rape and murder of Mari, the killers actually give off expressions of shock and remorse for what they have done. Back in 1972, this approach to screen violence was unheard-of.

The outstanding work of the unknown cast is what makes the film as effective as it is. Cassel and Grantham make extremely believable and sympathetic victims, though the real acting honours go to the villains. Hess (who also composed the film's dated but often effective score) is truly remarkable in his role, making Krug into one of the most unforgettable screen psychopaths, and he is almost matched by veteran porn director Lincoln's surprisingly effective turn as Weasel, presenting him as a humorous, laid-back character that is capable of shocking, cold-blooded violence. But while the film is often quite disturbing, it also has plenty of entertainment value. When the violence is not being displayed, the tone is very tongue-in-cheek, as Craven provides plenty of sharp dialogue and effective bits of black humour. In particular, the infamous scene where Weasel meets his painful revenge from Mari's mother, and the dynamite dream sequence that precedes it, manage to be both shocking and oddly entertaining at the same time. But it is the film's anti-violence statement that makes "Last House" so memorable, as Craven does not allow his characters to feel any satisfaction for their vicious actions. This is easily one of the ten most important horror films of all time, and a real personal favourite of mine. It demands to finally be recognized as the true groundbreaking achievement that it is.
156 out of 211 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A bit over-hyped, but fairly good and certainly important historically
BrandtSponseller9 July 2005
While I think that people tend to get a bit hyperbolic when they talk about The Last House on the Left, I do think it's a fairly good film, especially given what the filmmakers were trying to do and considering their lack of experience, the era and the budget. Also, despite a filmic precursor, it just may be the earliest example of the horror subgenre of "brutal, realist tragedy" (that's more a description than a name, but I haven't spent much time trying to come up with a catchy moniker). However, it has flaws that would be difficult to overlook in a "distanced" (rather than "objective" or "unbiased", neither of which I think are possible) assessment of the film.

The story, although claimed as true, is an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's Jungfrukällan (aka The Virgin Spring, 1960). Roughly, it is the story of Mari Collingwood (Sandra Cassel). We see Mari at home with her almost-hip parents. Mari is about to head out to a "Bloodlust" concert in New York City with her new friend Phyllis Stone (Lucy Grantham). Mom and dad are harassing her about her clothing, which is thin enough to show off a bit of flesh, but they're not so un-hip as to make her change. Meanwhile, we learn from a radio that four convicts--"murderers, dope-pushers and rapists"--have just escaped from prison. At the same time, director Wes Craven slowly reveals the quartet--Krug Stillo (David A. Hess), Junior Stillo (Marc Sheffler), Fred "Weasel" Podowski (Fred J. Lincoln) and Sadie (Jeramie Rain). They're holed up in a New York City apartment. Sadie seems to be group property, and that causes some tension. It is suggested that they look for a couple more women. Mari and Phyllis end up at the wrong place at the wrong time. They're kidnapped, and mayhem ensues. But there's a twist that arrives when the convict's car breaks down in an ironic location.

"Frightening", "disturbing", "sick" and various other terms are frequently employed when describing Last House on the Left. Since I find no films scary, I can't vouch for the first term, but the other two would perhaps apply proportionate to how many horror films you regularly watch, and just what kinds of horror films. If you're not used to the genre in its grittier and gorier post-1960s instantiations, you'd likely find The Last House on the Left shocking. If you've seen a large number of films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Cannibal Holocaust (1980), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) and so on, don't pay too much attention to the hype. You're not likely to be very disturbed by anything you see here.

That doesn't mean that you'll not enjoy this film. After all, it has been a major influence on the films mentioned above--there is even an important chainsaw scene here. That's especially remarkable when we consider that it was only Craven and Producer Sean S. Cunningham's second film. They had been approached by a consortium of exhibitors who said that they wanted "something as appalling and exploitable as Night of the Living Dead (1968)".

Maybe largely by accident, Craven and Cunningham (along with others, such as assistant producer Steve Miner, who later became much bigger "names" in horror--between these three, we have the helmers of a number of films in the three major 1980s/1990s franchises--Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street) happened upon an unusual cinema vérité style that made the horrific situations depicted seem much more immediate and real. Combined with occasionally graphic and always intense situations of violence and control, the final effect is akin to watching a home video/snuff film. In fact, it was promoted as such in some areas, and the effect was disturbing enough in its time that the film initially received an X rating and was banned for many years in some locales.

But again, focusing on that amounts to hype now, and shouldn't be taken too seriously, lest it lead to inflated expectations. Just as surprising on a first viewing is that The Last House on the Left has an intermittent goofy sense of humor and a "groovy" attitude that is firmly mired in the early 1970s. The two policemen are really comic relief characters (and very funny at that), but there is also a lot of humor surrounding the criminal quartet--this almost becomes a "black comedy" at times. These sensibilities even extend to the music, which has a frequent hillbilly edge and lyrics that supply ex-positional material. Surprisingly, Hess, who plays Krug, wrote the music.

Despite the simplicity of the story and the fact that the 2002 MGM DVD release is the "most complete cut ever" according to Craven, there are problems with the story, whether due to the script or the editing. Too many segues between major plot points are "jumpy". The chase(s) through the woods seems a bit random. It's not very well explained how the convicts end up at a home looking as they do. Two characters find another who was missing, and it seems more like a dream sequence because of its arbitrariness, and so on.

But overall, the story is effective enough. Although many subtexts can and have been read into the film, the most interesting theme to me was that it's largely a "tragedy of happenstance". Craven seems to be expressing a strong belief in chance and coincidence and focusing on the dark side of it. Under that reading, we can maybe excuse some of the narrative jumps more easily.

Although there are a number of similar films that I think are better than The Last House on the Left, including Ruggero Deodato's House at the Edge of the Park (aka La Casa sperduta nel parco, 1980)--also starring Hess in a similar role, curiously enough, this is a must-see for serious horror fans because of its historical importance.
116 out of 160 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Without a doubt, the most disturbing film I have ever seen
baumer26 June 1999
I have seen some films literally dozens of times. They will remain nameless, but they are there. Some of those films are pure entertainment and have left an obvious mark on me. I have seen Last House on the Left four times. And there is no film that has left more of an impression on me than this film. It is a visceral experience and one that will never leave your subconscious, and that goes for anyone who has seen the film. There are images here that are about as primal as you can go without feeling like you are in a Neanderthal like state. Wes Craven has tapped into something that few if any have ever been able to duplicate. There have been imitations as recently as the summer of 2005 when Chaos tried to usurp LAST HOUSE as the most disturbing film ever made, but make no mistake about it. This is the one and only. This film still has an adverse affect on me. The only reason I rented this film back in 1992 was because I was convinced that ( along with Jaws and Halloween ) Nightmare on Elm Street was the one of the scariest movies I had ever seen. And when I found out that Wes Craven had an earlier film to his credit, I had to see it. What happened in the next 90 minutes can only be described as an assault on my senses. Everything that was good in life no longer existed and the fun and happy horror films like Friday the 13th were exposed as the charlatans that they were. It's not to say that they weren't fun films but they were not true horror films, the way a Steven Seagal film about war is a quack compared to something ominous like Apocalypse Now. I felt a plethora of emotions ranging from feeling sick, to shame, fear and trauma. I was so unabashedly disturbed after the film that a three hour, head clearing drive in the country was needed to calm my nerves. That is no exaggeration.

The story centers around two carefree you women who are going to a concert in the city. They are looking to score some weed and they meet Junior, who promises them some and he takes them to meet the rest of the gang. What ensues over the next 45 minutes is nothing short of the dehumanization of the two girls. They are forced to beat each other, touch each other and then they are raped and murdered horrifically. There is not much more to say if you do not want to ruin it for those that haven't seen it yet.

Was this a good film? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely not. It left me exhausted depressed and it drained me to the point that I thought I would break down and cry. For a horror movie to do that to me is quite astonishing. I have seen most of Fulci's gorefests but every time you see some guy with a drill through his head, you can dismiss is a schlock. You know it's fake. But not with this film. It imbues a realism to it that just makes you feel like you are watching someone's snuff film. It is that macabre and it feels that real. There is nothing else like it.

I remember reading a review of Aliens by Roger Ebert and he said that the film was a work of art and he gave it high marks but the film was so much of a play on his emotions that he did not enjoy it. He was terrified more than he had been before. That is how I feel about this film. It is masterfully made, but it is a tough film to watch. Even after writing this review I am going to have a hard time getting the images out of my head. So my advice to you is if you are going to watch this film, proceed with caution. The subject matter in this film makes 8MM look like Anne of Green Gables.

This is the first time the tagline has read so true. Just keep repeating to yourself that it is only a movie, it is only a movie......
176 out of 252 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Haunting movie
tamstrat1 June 2005
I first saw Last House on the Left at the age of 18 at the drive in with my best girlfriend. This movie, an early outing by horror maven Wes Craven was so disturbing to me that 26 years later I am still haunted by the images on the screen. The story, of 2 young girls, approximately the same age I was when I saw the film, of being abducted, tortured, raped and then murdered is not for the faint of heart. The brutality and violence was staggering, and the film spoke volumes of the depravity of the human soul. I remember driving home with my girlfriend after watching this, and both of us were dead silent, each contemplating what we had watched and knowing that something like that could happen to us. This movie is one I know without a doubt, that I will never again watch, and now, being the parent of a daughter myself, I could never watch it and then allow her out of the house again. This is not a monster movie, the MONSTERS are human and all too real, especially in today's society filled with Ted Bundy's and The Green River Killer, this movie hits too close to home and leaves the viewer depressed and saddened at what human beings are capable of doing to other innocent people. Watch it if you dare, but be prepared to be left with a very hollow feeling after it is over.
89 out of 123 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"And the road leads to nowhere..."
Vince-56 June 2001
Whether you love it or hate it (there really seems to be no in-between), you must admit that Last House on the Left is a powerful film. In my opinion, it may be one of the most important American films ever made. Screw Scream--this is Wes Craven's best. Combining professional and amateurish elements on a low budget, it has the scratchy, over-saturated look of a perverse home movie--and the rough edges make it all the more unforgettable. The actors are very good, especially David A. Hess in his definitive role as sadistic sex murderer Krug and Jeramie Rain as a deranged woman obviously modeled after Sadie Glutz. The brutal rape-murders and scenes of vengeance are staged in a chilling, claustrophobic manner that makes you feel like you're there. Oddly enough, the clash of light (the comically inept cops, the cheery soundtrack) and dark elements creates a juxtaposition that's even more disturbing; despite what's happening, the three nuts are enjoying themselves without remorse and the rest of the world just bounces along obliviously. Also, the cop scenes often provide a necessary break from the brutality, giving you a brief second to breathe before plunging you back in. A tone of grim tension is maintained throughout, and it clings to you long after you've left the Last House. How, you ask, could a person enjoy something like this? Because it does what a horror movie is ultimately supposed to do, and I know that in the end, "It's only a movie...only a movie...only a movie..."
76 out of 107 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
And the road leads to nowhere
matt-20121 April 1999
Much as I admire it, I can only watch Wes Craven's brilliant debut feature once every few years; as sheer stomach-churning brutality goes, it makes SALO look like Sondheim. Craven has said he made the movie as extreme as it is as his comment on the obscenity of Vietnam. I've heard that number many a time (Ruggero Deodato blames CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST on the Red Brigade!), but in Craven's case, it's so palpable it's believable. LAST HOUSE may be the first (and is certainly the most far-out) case of a horror movie that eschews suspense, tingles, shock, in the wake of sheer, harrowing barbarism.

Based on Bergman's THE VIRGIN SPRING, it tells the tale of a couple of young girls on their way to a concert who fall prey to a Manson-like family. Their rape-murders are avenged by a suddenly wised-up couple of parents who, in their restitution, find themselves as blood-bespattered and guilty as their prey.

LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is a grindhouse GUERNICA, an outcry over desensitization to violence that leaves you feeling shaken and desolated. It genuinely reupholsters the word "horror." For most, the clarity of Craven's intentions won't be enough to redeem the dire viciousness of what the director puts you through. For me, the ferocity of the movie has a cleansing, Artaudian pureness.

One question: Craven made this film and his masterpiece, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, the ultimate statement on the nuclear family in post-Woodstock, post-Altamont America. He then went on to make a load of occasionally mildly amusing but mostly godawful movies. What's the story?
76 out of 119 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
some good exploitation scenes but generally amateurish and silly
SnoopyStyle22 September 2015
It's Mari Collingwood's 17th birthday. She and her friend Phyllis Stone go to NYC for a concert. They try to buy some weed but are kidnapped and raped by a gang of criminals. They are stuff in the car trunk and driven to the woods near Mari's home. The girls are tortured and killed. The gang ends up coincidentally at the Collingwood home while the bumbling local cops struggle to track the gang down.

This is definitely an exploitation film. I'm sure it was derided by the critics at the time. Some of those exploitation parts are actually the best parts of the movie. Being forced to pee in her pants is a compelling scene. The rest of the movie is amateurish, silly and simply bad. The comic stuff with the cops is groan-worthy. The coincidence of running into the Collingwood home is ridiculous and unnecessary. The gang could have gotten the address from Mari. The overall need to create a peaceful happy tone while counteracting it with the brutal violence does not come off well. Then there is the killing of the girls which splits the movie in two. The second half fades and the intensity never fully recovers. It's one of Wes Craven's first and it's at the level of a good student film.
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Extremely amateurish - even by high school film class standards.
qormi26 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
A bizarrely stupid mess. Edited for comedy, not horror. Extremely inappropriate comical music throughout. Yes, straightforward depictions of violence against captive women, but done in amateurish fashion with unintentionally ridiculous actors. After the last victim is dispatched, the film disintegrates into absurd foolishness, reminiscent of an early Woody Allen film. Seems like it was done on a shoestring budget with only one shoestring. How Wes Craven found work after this debacle is beyond reason. It seems as if a few friends got together one Saturday with a video camera, had a few beers, had people in it who never acted before, and had a good time. Pure trash.
30 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
barjo-915-20322912 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Jesus, this may have been Horror in the 1970's... but we were laughing most of the way through it.

Completely two dimensional characters, pathetic actors that were never seen again, and the storyline was full of plot holes and completely implausible.

For some reason, while all sorts of mayhem is going on, the police characters are written as comedic? It was also meant to be a horror movie, where in effect, its actually a crime/thriller.

Production value wise, it looks like it was made using a $120 voucher from Kennards Hire.

Not recommended.
11 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Exploitive Non-Horror
nutsy9 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Wes Craven's THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was one of the first in a very long tradition of exploitive films that were labeled as horror but weren't. This film is not particularly exploitive (at least when compared to later examples of the genre), but it isn't scary either. I'm not a huge fan of horror, but this fails as a film for any genre (or none).


This really doesn't even pretend to be a horror film. It's a very dated tragedy/drama about two girls who are kidnapped, abused, and murdered by a group of criminals who are eventually murdered by the parents of the victims.


Throughout the film, there are no shocks, no creepy music or photography, nothing even resembling horror. What the viewer gets instead is nudity, blood, sadism, dismemberment, violence, and a soundtrack composed entirely of really bad folkish 70s songs. THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was cheaply made, so it's lacking in the technical aspects and does no wonders in the artistic ones.

It was based on THE VIRGIN SPRING by Ingmar Bergman, which I haven't seen, but it's got to be better than this. This is a drama about senseless murder that isn't character oriented enough to justify its approach and is simply too exploitive to be taken seriously. The conclusion is gory stuff, but it isn't enough to turn this into the "horror classic" it's been hailed as.

I don't know how Wes Craven ever managed to have a career after this. A semi-sequel called THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK was made six years later with one of the same actors and is actually slightly better than this. If you want to see an early Wes Craven film, THE HILLS HAVE EYES is better than this (don't expect THE GODFATHER, though). If you want good horror, don't see this. THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is no more than a weepy video-nasty with a bad score.
38 out of 63 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Repugnant, unwatchable film leaves viewers with bad taste in their mouths
mlraymond24 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen a fair number of movies with unpleasant subject matter and repellent characters, but I have never despised any film as much as this one. I think it may be a perverse testament to its impact that even reminding myself " it's only a movie" doesn't help. I've read all the arguments in its favor and seen a TV interview with Wes Craven talking about the impact of the Vietnam war on his direction, and I still cannot think of one positive thing to say about it. I saw it once a few years ago and will never see it again. Even the equally vile I Spit On Your Grave wasn't as disturbing as this. For me, there is not one redeeming feature about this I'm sorry I ever saw it and can only say in conclusion that sometimes sheer curiosity about a movie isn't enough to justify subjecting yourself to it.
39 out of 65 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
How did Wes Craven go from this to the Nightmare on Elm Street comedies??
Anonymous_Maxine1 December 2004
I watched The Last House on the Left having only recently gone back and watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre again and learning that I simply don't enjoy abrasive horror films like that. They are extremely well-made and very effective, but they are effective to the point that I don't find them all that fun to watch, the way I enjoy watching even the campiest scary movies. I also realized that there is a much more distinct line between horror movies and scary movies than I had previously realized. Horror movies, like Texas Chainsaw and Last House on the Left, are not scary, they're horrible. Conversely, scary movies hopefully are actually scary (although all too often they're not either), but are rarely horrible, mostly because excesses of gore and whatnot often render them campy, separating them from reality and allowing you to laugh while someone is being brutally killed.

Last House on the Left is a horror movie, not a scary movie. It is not scary for a second, but the fact that it is presented in this almost documentary-like way and involves very realistic characters make it that much more effective. Given that I was so recently sickened once again by Texas Chainsaw, I was expecting something equally abrasive from Last House on the Left, which I decided to see after seeing an excellent documentary about horror film history called The American Nightmare.

The movie was clearly a groundbreaking film at the time of its release, and you can clearly see throughout the film scenes that were influential to popular horror films that have come out over the years. I was reminded of some cheesy backwoods movies that also came out in the 1970s, like 'Gator Bait and the disturbing I Spit on Your Grave, which both have a similar feel to Last House on the Left, but oddly do not have nearly the effect of novice director Wes Craven's early film. I have a feeling that this may be because Craven had significantly less goofy caricatures in his movie than either of the 'Gator Bait films or I Spit on Your Grave, both of which are hugely overshadowed by Last House on the Left, which in turn was eclipsed by the classic Deliverance the same year.

In watching the interviews with Wes Craven and producer Sean Cunningham on the DVD, it is clear that the movie turned out to be a lot more than they had expected it to, mostly because it was so disturbing that there were people who didn't want either of them to ever be allowed to work in film again, and it's not hard to see why they were so upset. More than 30 years later, the film remains effectively disturbing and upsetting, simply because it portrays real people doing horrible things to other real people. There are simple situations in the movie where you may find yourself wide-eyed with shock at something that could easily be created by a few people with a home video camera. The success with which Craven and Cunningham were able to make such an effective film with little to no budget ranks Last House on the Left with other low budget classics like Texas Chainsaw and Night of the Living Dead, although it now retains considerably less notoriety, possibly because of the lack of a whole line of sequels.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the police officers in the movie, a sheriff and his deputy whose jaw-dropping stupidity surpasses even that of all of the law enforcement in First Blood. The campy gestures like the sheriff slapping his forehead and rubbing his chin helplessly at his inability to commandeer a chicken farmer's truck when their own car ran out of gas, gosh darn it. The comic relief is unusually starkly contrast with the rest of the movie, but it's a good thing it's there, otherwise the movie would be even more difficult to watch.

While it's true that it is an uncomfortable experience watching the movie and I've recently decided I don't enjoy things like that, you have to respect the skill with which it was put together. Not just the level of depravity that Craven and Cunningham managed to reach, but the way they were able to come up with ways to put the film together when they had such limited resources. From a technical standpoint, the movie is a huge success because of that. Not quite as much fun as some of his later movies (and not quite as bad as some of his later movies), but Last House on the Left performs some things that remain almost unheard of in the movies, especially horror movies, such as the fact that it contains full frontal nudity and extensive and brutal violence, but glorifies neither. The simple fact that this movie can be as graphic as it is without being exploitative is enough to show that even after three decades there is still something to be learned from it.
75 out of 134 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A VERY dark journey....
jreyes-21 May 2000
I remember, quite vividly, the ad campaign for "Last House on the Left". I clearly remember the eerie feeling I got when I saw the ads, either televised or printed. Yet, as eerie as they were, nothing in the ads ever prepared me for this movie. I felt helpless during the film because nothing I could do would help the characters on-screen. I was terrified by man's cruelty to man. I still continue to be haunted by this film. The feeling one experiences viewing this film can only be compared to what a jury feels when video evidence is presented. With that said, I have to admit this is a great film. To evoke such feelings in an audience using actors and actresses is a work of great talent. I can't say I've enjoyed most of Mr. Craven's works; but, this is undeniable a staple in cinema's history.
38 out of 65 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Rather Interesting Low Budget Film.....
BaronBl00d28 November 1998
I found this film to be rather interesting in a number of ways. Yes, I would agree that it has many unpleasantries throughout the film: two women are raped, stabbed, shot, and brutally killed, one man loses his manhood in a rather disconcerting fashion, and another man is chainsawed to bits. Yet, through all this, the film has many highlights when viewed as a product of its time and with regard to its importance to the horror genre. The film creates a disturbing atmosphere which really affects the viewer. The murders are cold-blooded and yet not glorified in any manner. The acting, although for the most part amateurish, is restrained and believable. A must see for any student of the horror genre.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Don't be fooled by the hyp....IT's BAD!
MrTacchi17 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a waste of time. It may have set standards when it was first shown, over 30 years ago, but it's no good for today. I had a very bad time seeing this movie, it made me want to cry, 'cause I realized that if i were born 30 years ago I could have been famous. It would only taken me to pick a couple friends, a camera and a big house, and tell them to act like sick retarded morons or whatsoever during 87 minutes. Then, a bunch of people would have loved it and turned it into a cult movie. Make that several times and you got yourself a career.

This may contain spoilers ahead (if there's anything to spoil, though).

The movie is about a couple slutties that went downtown for drugs and end up being kidnapped, raped and murdered. The guys that commit this atrocity will soon be held by their vengeanceful parents, who would slice cut and dice them in revenge. The end.

¿That's it? Yes, that's all of it. And don't think that there will be any gore, or suspense, or good dialogues, or anything to discuss about. The only thing that will be held in your mind is the absolutely awful and idiotic tag line repeated over and over "it's only a movie" ¡¡What an horrible marketing this film had! Surely there is absolutely nothing good about this movie, so I better don't waste more time on reviewing it. Please, don't watch it!
13 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
So bad it's......bad!
headly664 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I had never seen this movie before but was watching a "best horror movies of all time" thing on TV and it was in there so I thought I'd check it out. Now looking back, how this was included in a best of is beyond me. This has got to be one of the worst films of all time. It is so cheaply made and not in the least bit scary. I would not even categorize this as horror, it's so pathetically poor I was crying, should be in the violent comedy section at Blockbuster. To believe A Clockwork Orange came out a year before and this was all the creativity Wes Craven could come up with. The acting (if you can call it that) is non-existent, the effects are so laughable, the villains are stupid jerks who are not at all threatening, and why the hell is it even called TLHOTL? Looks like it was shot in someones back yard on a budget of six bucks. Halloween is everything this movie wanted to be and even that's very dated. Frighteningly bad.
18 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Exploitative trash masquerading as "social commentary".
fedor828 December 2006
A strong candidate for "The Worst Movie of All Time". With his first film Craven reached heights of ineptitude and tastelessness that even Craven-haters should be surprised by, and the incompetence is far-reaching; in every respect imaginable does this film not fail to fail. This piece of exploitative trash is at the very least the worst killers-on-the-lam film ever made. The acting ranges from one-dimensional to atrocious to ridiculous, and the characters behave in such an inconsistent and illogical manner that I have to suspect that this movie wasn't so much directed as that it's simply a collection of improvised scenes by a couple of bored – and talentless - students who just happened to have had a camera nearby. One of the main things that separates a film like "I Spit On Your Grave" from this junk is that Craven has neither respect nor pity for victims of brutal crimes; this he shows more than obviously by playing utterly inappropriate cheerful music while the two girls are being shoved into the trunk of a car and then driven off. At the end of the film there is yet more upbeat music. This is not some fantasy zombie film where you can expect your audience to laugh with you about the exaggerated and silly events and cartoon violence that take place in the movie. The main events in this "reality-based" horror movie haven't got an iota of a humorous side to them, and the fact that Craven doesn't realize this shows what a sad little degenerate he is. An English professor??? What a joke. In-between scenes of torture, degradation, and murder Craven manages to squeeze in scenes of goofy cops, which we are supposed to find amusing.
26 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Landmark Film Despite it's Flaws
rwint18 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Landmark horror film about two teen girls killed by some brutes who later receive sterner justice by one of the girls parents. Dated with bad color, ill advised 'comic relief', and a jarring music score. It's really just the eight minutes in the woods where the girls are humiliated, tortured, raped, and murdered that make this movie standout. It reaches a certain level of starkness never seen before and in many ways rarely since. No teasers of cosmic revelations here. The girls, as in most true life crimes, are killed simply because they 'were in the wrong place at the wrong time'. The scene also allows for some interesting, multifaceted observations of the characters. The teens are typically rebelious, yet one reverts to a childhood prayer just before she is killed. The killers are savage and brutal. Yet when the crime is over look at the scene with a certain disgust and shame. The ending scene at the parents house, although done for metaphorical purposes, is redundant, overblown, and not as effective. Sure apple pie, suburban mom would be upset to meet her daughters killers, but would that be enough to do fellatio on a scummy stranger just as a way to kill him? Overall it's the scenes that work that give this film it's vintage stature. Actor Hess creates a incredibly viscious and intense villiain. Similar in tone to the excellent HENRY PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER.
17 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Better left alone. (spoilers)
vertigo_141 August 2004
The Last House on the Left is allegedly based on a true story about the brutal murder of two teenage girls by escaped convicts out in the boonies.

Basically, this movie is two parts. The first are the scenes leading up to and including the rape, torture, and murder of the girls by the four convicts. Sitting through this and watching about an hour of two girls getting raped and beaten and stabbed and forced to perform humiliating acts was not my idea of entertainment. I'd never want to be in a situation like this, let alone want to watch it. Sure, there are certain things in horror movies, but this is more like Wes Craven's attempt at amateur snuff. All we watch is the act of the convicts eliminating the girls, who they've taken out into the woods somewhere. It's really disgusting, and nothing else happens. It's not even like a horror movie and it's really sick to sit through. What was the point of exploiting brutal murders like that for cheesy entertainment?

If that weren't bad enough, the rest of the movie is just awful. I know, it's 1972, and Wes Craven was not yet in his prime (pre-Nightmare on Elm Street), but this is bad even by bad horror movie standards. For one thing, the disgusting scenes of the girl's rape and murders are somehow celebrated with happy folk music. When the attackers all gather around one of the girls, including a scene where one of the attackers starts pulling intestines from the girl's wounds, they finish and all stand around looking at each other while some weepy song plays with lyrics about being ostracized from the world. What the hell is that?

Then, there's these interspersed scenes of these two stupid Keystone cop types who might've been able to intervene somehow, but ignored that suspicious looking car parked out by the road. The scenes with the two stupid cops are funny, and the music is like banjo work that accompanies old silent film slapstick comedy. Where were the filmmakers going with this? In one scene, we'll be watching a girl getting stabbed to death, and then the next scene is the two stupid cops running out of gas and having to hitch a ride on a chicken truck? Disgusting.

The finale is when the four attackers get their just deserts. With no help from the bumbling policeman, the parents of one of the girls, invites the four strangers into their home, thinking they're stranded traveling businesspeople. However, they soon learn that these are the people that killed their teenage daughter. So Mr. and Mrs. Suburbanite setup their house (and their attackers) for revenge. The ending is so drawn out and so completely stupid, it's not even funny.

This was really one completely worthless horror movie. What a waste of time.
33 out of 65 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Craven's masterpiece
the red duchess6 December 2000
This delightful black comedy is so harrowing because its tone is so hilariously flippant. Long before 'Scream', Craven was engaged in analysing the fundamentals of horror - audiences, expectations, representation, ethics. To find a film featuring extended and graphic scenes of torture, rape, mutilation and murder 'delightful' is to ask a lot of hard questions about yourself as a viewer, maybe even as a person. it's not enough to say 'Craven made me', as he juxtaposes a horrendous gang raping of a teenage virgin with the bumbling exploits of two comedy cops; a number of people left the cinema, and made their choice. So did I.

The story is a remake of Bergman's 'The Virgin Spring', adapted with surprising aptness to the backwoods of post-hippie America. Birthday girl Mari and her friend Phyllis go to see metal band Bloodlust in a 'rough' neighbourhood. At the same time, a pair of ruthless killers have escaped jail, hooking up with their moll and the leader's junkie son. Mari and Phyllis, eager to 'score' some 'grass' (man) on this exciting night of new-found independence, ask a loitering Junior Stillo if he has anything. He invites them into the killers' hideout, and the ghastly horrors begin.

Right from the beginning, the tone of this film is almost jauntily comic, from Mari's parents' (sometimes sinister) fuddy-duddy routine, to the news description of the escapees. This comedy comes from a number of sources, from exaggerration, incongruity, or just the sheer strangeness of people with these delicious faces saying certain things.

Craven goes to great lengths to compare the two families in a very Bergman way, from the pets they both share, to the generation tensions.

Initially, the film had seemed like a reactionary moral lesson - a young girl in the first flush of her burgeoning sexuality, her bosom finally developing, goes to a violent concert in a dodgy neighbourhood, without a bra - isn't she just asking for trouble? This is classic, reactionary liberal-baiting - her parents, despite their token protests, are children of the hippy ethos; father even gives Mari a CND necklace for her birthday. Mari leaves the safe cloister of home for freedom and the big city, and is punished for it, a victim of the women's lib Krug so despises.

Craven sets this up because it makes us feel safe, it gives us a position, recognising as we do contemporary films on a similar subject, eg. 'Dirty Harry', 'Death Wish'. BUt when he brings Mari back home, playing out her destruction in the heavily symbolic forest, we realise that his appropriation of Bergman isn't superficial. Although the film seems to be that perennial theme, the external threat to the family, Craven shows that its roots are within, in Mari's fairy-tale sheltered upbringing. So remote that the phone doesn't even work; friendless until a year ago, Mari's only confidante was her mother.

Mari is 17, and yet she is only hitting puberty now. This biological suppression, this unnatural delay finds an outlet in violence - the violence done to Mari, to the family, the home, the wood, but also the film's form, which veers so wildly in tone. .

Craven isn't the first horror director to take inspiration from Bergman, whose terse narratives are full of terrors unavailable to the generic director. He lacks Bergman's stern, parable-like concentration, but the transplantation from a mythical, Protestnat, symbolic space is effective, and Craven's style is full of low-budget inventiveness. Another possible influence is Godard, in the way Craven flagrantly shocks in the disparity of his content and the way he expresses it - the 'horrifying' denouement is pure farce, a routine of assorted vaudeville turns.

Like Godard, one could argue that his progressive experiments are undermined by misogyny - it's always the spectacle of terrorised women that is used to 'subvert' or 'expose' something or other. It is about times somebody took their cue from 'Deliverance'. What is certain is that the term black comedy should never be used so lightly again - a film like 'Heathers' or 'War of the Roses' can never disturb a viewer as disturbingly as this.
33 out of 65 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
You've Got To Be Kidding!
angelsunchained21 January 2006
I'm laughing myself out of my chair, I can't believe how people here see the symbolism and artistic flair in this 5th rate piece of junk.

I saw Last House on the Left with my cousin and a friend in 1972 at a midnight movie. It was clear to all the teens that this trashy film was simply made to throw a few shivers into us. Seriously, the packed theater was roaring with laughter at the horrible acting, lousy screenplay and obvious violence. The show became a word-by-mouth cult film ala Night of The living Dead, and I must have seen this " trip down trash lane" about a dozen times. Shocking? You've got to be kidding! 1972 it was a laugh fest.

Funny how time turns junk into art.
41 out of 83 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the worst horror movies of all time!
BobaFett-2214 July 1999
This is truly one of the worst horror movies I have ever seen, and I don't mean that in a joking, it is funny kind of way. This film has no redeeming quality. That is a sad thing to say, when you are talking about horror movies, there are tons of really bad ones that come to mind. This is still one of the worst... yikes. I was not going to comment on this movie, but after reading so many favorable reviews from other viewers on this site, I had to set the record straight. This movie is terrible! I mean this movie is bad! It does not deserve some hallowed place in the horror movie hall of fame. It deserves to sit on your local video store shelf, collecting dust. The tagline for this movie says to keep repeating, "it's only a movie, it's only a movie.." well guess what? It's not. It is just a big mess. It is an excuse to put some really poor special effects onto the screen. This film is not suspenseful, terrifying or stomach churning. This movie is mostly just boring. Not to mention a virtual clinic on how NOT to direct, edit, act in or score a film! Crazy banjo music during a ridiculous rape scene? WHAT!?! According to one song in the movie, the road leads to nowhere. Apparently, so does this movie. People like to say this movie paved the way for such classics as Halloween. I say that is ridiculous. Halloween used lighting, camera angles, music and story to create suspense and action. Last House on the Left misuses these same things to create NOTHING!!! A friend of mine and I usually rent two or more horror movies per week, in search of truly bad movies. We are working on a book rating all the horror movies we can get our hands on. As a result of this, we have found many movies that are bad, but some are still entertaining. Unfortunately, Last House on the Left is on par with such uninteresting drivel as The Howling: New Moon Rising, perhaps the worst movie ever made, regardless of genre. Wes Craven is a wildly erratic filmmaker who got lucky with Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream movies. He has struggled and still put out some mildly entertaining movies such as Deadly Friend, but avoid Last House on the Left at all costs, as it is not only one of the worst Wes Craven films, but one of the worst horror films ever made.
37 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Too many things just don't work
KnightsofNi1123 November 2010
Here we go with another horror movie from the notorious 1970's. I seem to have been on a streak of good or at least decent films of this genre, but sadly, The Last House on the Left ended that streak. The movie is about two seventeen year old girls who are kidnapped by a band of four sadistic murderers and rapists while trying to score some dope. They are violently terrorized, raped, then murdered. Afterwords, the awful gang of people decide to take some temporary refuge in a lovely country house which happens to be the house of one of the girls they just murdered. Violence and terror ensues, but not to much extent. This movie tries to hard, yet at the same time doesn't try hard enough.

The entire editing of the film seems shoddy and careless at first, but I soon realized that the director, Wes Craven, was trying to give the film a sort of claustrophobic and sinister feel with the snappy and often times strange cuts. However, whatever he was going for was not achieved in my eyes and I was left with something that just didn't feel right. Perhaps with some more finite tweaking to the structure and editing of the film it would have worked out, but I'm not here to judge the "what ifs" just what I saw on my TV screen. There were some other technical issues that begged me just a little bit, such as a couple of characters whose voices were overdubbed very poorly. I often times don't mind this because it gives the film a strange and independent feel, which works in its own strange way in other low budget horror films like Evil Dead, for example. But here it was just distracting.

Probably the biggest issue with The Last House on the Left is its characterization. The film really has four sets of characters, the two seventeen year old girls, the two parents of one of the girls, the four murderers, and two police officers. Each group is either underdeveloped or poorly designed. The film starts without establishing much character, but we do feel a sense of close family ties between the daughter Mari and her loving parents. Yet through the rest of the film the development seems to come to a halt, thus during the gruesome rapes and murders, I didn't feel as much sympathy as I should have. I'm not saying I didn't have sympathy because that's not something that's hard to achieve when you are watching two innocent characters get beaten, raped, and then murdered.

At the beginning of the film the parents were developed about as much as the two girls were, and I definitely got a sense of what they were all about, but it didn't go much further from there. Then at the end of the film the parents go on a violent revenge spree against the people who murdered their daughter, and this practically comes out of nowhere. There's no time to develop these hard hitting emotions that these two empathetic characters are experiencing. Instead we jump straight into revenge without any warning. In hindsight, this could work in some way, but it's not too important to dwell on because the girls and the parents are the strongest of the four groups of characters in this film. The problems really arise with the last two groups.

The band of four murderers are not doubt disgusting and vile people, who we are obviously supposed to despise with every fiber of our body. This isn't something thats hard to do, but the major problem with these characters is just how ridiculous and foolish they are. They're a bunch of buffoons and some of their interactions are almost comical at times. There are times when they feel utterly harmless because of how idiotic they all are. It's this that completely removes the sense of danger we are supposed to feel emanating from these horrid people, and the film loses all of its claustrophobic and "all hope is lost" feel. At this point it becomes pretty boring as opposed to scary.

Finally we have the two police officers who are hired by the parents to find their missing daughter. These are two of the most useless and idiotic characters I've seen in a movie. Every one of their scenes is a slapstick act that isn't even funny. Their roles in the film serve no purpose. Even if they were intentionally utilized to be the comic relief of the film, which seems pretty ridiculous in a horror film like this, then they even failed on that level because instead of a laugh or even a chuckle, all they received from me was an ashamed palm to the face gesture, otherwise known as facepalm.

The Last House on the Left could have been good. Hell, it could have been great. It has the right elements, and because it doesn't deal with the supernatural or paranormal, it is something that could actually happen to somebody as innocent as the girls who were murdered in this film. But unfortunately it misses the mark with poor visual decisions and bad characters that couldn't at all keep me interested in this film. There are a dozen other 70's horror flicks that I would recommend before this one, so avoid it and go re watch The Shining.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A moral sewer on film
Sith_Lord7 August 2002
Well....for people who are twisted, sadistic, or are just simply amused by ludicrous immoral brutality, this is a decent film. But if you have even a rudimental sense of decency or humanity, it will be the most revolting film you'll see.

Two girls are kidnapped, forced to do whatever pleases or amuses their kidnappers (in one case, a girl urinating through her bluejeans!?!). The girls are both viciously raped, shot, and left for dead in the woods. Furthermore the kidnappers somehow cross paths with one of the kidnapped girls parents and suffer ridiculous vigilante justice from the disgruntled parents.

It's amazing that this film is even on DVD or VHS, or that Wes Craven ever got another movie contract! It's only purpose is to make people sick and to please a sadistic and warped audience. It is by far the worst film I've ever seen.
25 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed