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The Last House on the Left (1972) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (2)  | Director Trademark (6)  | Spoilers (6)
When fledgling director Wes Craven took this film to the MPAA, they slapped it with an "X" rating. Wanting an R rating, for wider release, Craven went back and removed several minutes of footage. However, this still wasn't enough and the film still got an "X" rating. Once again Craven removed footage, but that still wasn't enough. Finally, Craven put all of the original footage back in, got an authentic "RATED R" seal of approval from the film board from a friend of his, put it on the film, and released it.
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A mixture of red and blue food coloring mixed with caramel syrup was used for the fake blood, which contrary to most film "blood", actually looks real.
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According to director Wes Craven, the crew set up a special editing office to restore prints returned from cinemas because "every one would come back chopped up by theater owners".
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According to various cast and crew members (especially David Hess and Fred J. Lincoln), actress Sandra Peabody was genuinely terrified throughout most of the shoot, at one point walking off-set. Eventually the filmmakers caught up with her and convinced her to return and finish the film.
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In the 1980s, the American video versions contained additional text after the film had ended, reading: "Coming soon to a theatre near you. From the producers of Last House On The Left, and the director of Friday the 13th Part V, ... The Last House On The Left, Part II. You won't believe your eyes!" No sequel ever materialised.
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When this movie was first released in '72, most critics found it disturbing. However, Roger Ebert gave it 3 and half stars and he got letters from people asking him how he could possibly support a movie like this.
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When distribution companies Hallmark and Atlas International released the movie in Germany, they attempted to pass it off as an actual "snuff" film (i.e., a real murder staged for the camera).
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Wes Craven later used the name "Krug" in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) for the film's villain, "Freddy KRUEGer." In both films the name is used for teenage murderers.
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Two future Friday the 13th directors worked on this film, Sean S. Cunningham and Steve Miner.
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The house the Collingwoods live in was owned by producer Sean S. Cunningham's parents.
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Wes Craven's directorial debut.
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Due to his size Martin Kove was originally up for the role of Krug. However he declined it in favor of the smaller comedic Deputy role, and suggested his friend David Hess for the role instead. Hess wore extra padded clothes for the audition but was given the role anyway, as well as being offered the music score.
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Originally scripted as a hardcore pornographic film, with all actors and crew being committed to filming it as such. However, after shooting began, Craven decided to rewrite the script to remove the explicit sex.
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This movie has been banned several times in the UK by the BBFC. Originally, in 1974, it was rejected for a cinema certificate. In 1984, it was banned again when it became a "video nasty", and remained that way until 2000, when it was once more rejected for a cinema release. In 2001, it was rejected and remained banned. Finally, a video version in 2002 was passed with around 30 seconds of cuts for an 18 rating, ending a 28 year streak of being banned. It was finally passed fully uncut by the BBFC in March 2008.
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Shot in 21 days.
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According to Wes Craven he never anticipated the extreme reactions that audiences would have to Last House on the Left. Audiences were said to have vomited, fainted, and (rumored to have happened to one unfortunate moviegoer) had a heart attack during initial screenings of the film.
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Fred J. Lincoln has stated on numerous occasions that he considers this film to be the worst movie he ever did.
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David Hess's film debut.
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The film was seized by the Australian Customs Board in October 1991, after a package containing this film and several other banned titles was discovered. It was finally released in Australia uncut in November 2004.
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Wes Craven famously walked out of a screening of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs in 1992; and Tarantino famously said, "I can't believe the guy who directed Last House on The Left walked out of Reservoir Dogs". Craven responded "Last House was about the evils and horrors of violence, it did not mean to glorify it. This movie (Reservoir Dogs) glorifies it."
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Fred J. Lincoln helped choreograph some of the more violent scenes in the movie.
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Ada Washington worked as a maid and nanny for producer Sean S. Cunningham's parent; this movie was her sole foray into film acting.
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David Hess, Fred J. Lincoln, and Marc Sheffler improvised a lot of their dialogue.
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The film was submitted for censorship in Australia in 1987 under the title "Krug and Company". The Australian Classification Board banned the film and responded with their reasoning as follows: "The Board of Review felt that, regardless of the degree of explicit sexual violence, butchery and cruelty remaining after heavy editing, the film is inherently so dehumanised and insensitive (and totally unrelieved by the inappropriate comic interludes) that release on video could not be justified. The Film Board of Review accordingly confirms the decision of the Censorship Board to Refuse to approve the classification of Krug and Company (aka The Last House on the Left) pursuant to Section 25 (3) of the A.C.T Classification of Publications Ordinance 1983."
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The relationship between Sandra Peabody and David Hess was turbulent throughout the making of the film as the latter remained in character off camera and ignored the discomfort that she felt while filming the violent scenes.
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Mari's "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer would later be used in other Wes Craven films, including his cult classics A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and The People Under the Stairs (1991).
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Originally filmed under the title "Night of Vengeance."
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When this was made it was the most violent American movie ever made. (There were more violent movies in the GIALLO cannon at this point though). The success of this movie opened the door and set the stage for other decade shockers like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE; THE EXORCIST; CALIGIULA; CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and Cunningham's own FRIDAY THE 13th.
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The director, Wes Craven, died on August 30th, 2015, the 43rd anniversary of the film's release.
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Wes Craven took Mari Collingwood's surname from his high school.
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Siskel and Ebert were divided on this movie. Siskel called it "the sickest film of the year" and gave it one star. Ebert gave it 3 and a half stars saying"' Last House on the Left' is a tough, bitter little sleeper of a movie that's about four times as good as you'd expect. There is a moment of such sheer and unexpected terror that it beats anything in the heart-in-the-mouth line since Alan Arkin jumped out of the darkness at Audrey Hepburn in "Wait Until Dark.""
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Krug,the vicious, rapist-serial killer in this movie; who oozed with smarminess and one liners, and liked to taunt and torture his victims before killing them, became a very similar type villain, but now in ghost form, in Nightmare on Elm Street. Again we have a similar bad guy with a big mouth in that movie as well; one who haunts and terrorizes his victims before killing them. Also with a similar last name; Krueger, an extension of Krug. The characters are so similar, and their story arcs so similar; both were done in by vindictive parents who circumvented the law; you could almost view Nightmare on Elm Street as a sequel to Last House on The Left; which makes sense since these were Craven's two masterpieces.
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Producer Sean S. Cunningham's station wagon is used when Lucy Grantham and Sandra Peabody are driving in the beginning.
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Steve Miner and his local friends painted the big white target symbol on the road that Krug and company drive over early in the film.
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The ads for this movie had a narrator saying, "...keep telling yourself..." then, an audience chanting over and over again "...it's only a movie" it was distributed by American International Pictures in 1972.
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David Hess, who plays Krug in the film, provides the vocals to the songs "Wait for the Rain" and "Water Song/ Sadie and Krug."
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Pauline Kael gave this movie a great review; surprisingly; saying it was one of the most gruesome and horrifying movies ever made: "It would be fun to be able to dismiss this as undoubtedly the best movie ever made in Pittsburgh, but it also happens to be one of the most gruesomely terrifying movies ever made - and when you leave the theatre you may wish you could forget the whole horrible experience... The film's grainy, banal seriousness works for it - gives it a crude realism; even the flatness of the amateurish acting and the unfunny attempts at campy comedy add, somehow, to the horror - there's no art to transmute the ghoulishness.
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This movie predated the modern slasher trend by 2 years. Black Christmas, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which are both considered the first prototype modern American Slashers; came out in 1974; this movie came out in 1972.
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Sara Cassell had a horrible time filming this movie, and felt traumatized much like her character, the ill-fated Mari. She was uncomfortable filming the sex scenes, and the Krug gang actors, in an overenthusiastic attempt to be method, harassed her offscreen as well; so much of the filmed crying, terror, dread and disgust you see her display onscreen is quite real. Another person who was disgusted by the whole project was Weasel actor Fred J Lincoln, who says he regrets making the movie. Both Cassell and Lincoln refuse to talk about the movie in interviews. Although Lucy Grantham and David Hess, who played Phyllis and Krug respectively, were quite comfortable during the filming, and have talked about the movie proudly in interviews.
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Sean Cunningham has said for years when he would tell people he produced this movie people would get up and walk away from him; as if he were a porn or a snuff director of some sort. (He said the same thing would happen to Wes Craven). When Cunningham followed this movie with Friday the 13th, famed film critic Gene Siskel wrote that Cunningham was "one of the most despicable creatures ever to infect the film industry... A man who is responsible for Last House on the Left... A movie where we see a gang of killers force a young girl to urinate on herself". Incidentally, this scene was done with practical effects, not special effects.
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This movie employed the frequently used gimmick in the horror movie industry of starting the story by posting a notice to the audience stating "The events you are about to see are true. Only the names have beeb changed to protect the innocent". In reality this movie is based on an old European folk legend; from the middle ages: which may or not be true. The names have certainly not been changed to protect the innocent since everyone who might have been involved has long since died. It certainly is not a recent modern day event; as Wes Craven would have you believe; they're just pretending it is to make it scarier. Similar "this is a true story" claims have been used to introduce horror movies for years; similar tactics were used in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Blair Witch Project, and Fargo; and in all these cases the claim turned out to be false; just a marketting gimmick to attract audiences. Orson Wells even used this technique when he was doing his infamous War of the Worlds broadcast in the 1940s; pretending he was a newscaster reciting actual events to the audience. Ironically, Craven's other big horror masterpiece; Scream; was loosely based on true events; it was inspired by the story of the Gainesville ripper. But in that movie they did try to use that to lure in audiences; probably because the movie was supposed to be a movie in a movie, a metha satire in part sending up horror movies; so it was not in their best interest to advertise that this was real.
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This was remade twice; in 2005 it was remade as the much maligned thriller Chaos (which many critics think is the worst movie ever made), and then again under the original name in 2009; in a version that was not quite as brutal as the original.
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In Germany, the film was listed on the index for youth endangering media since 1983. In 2000 the film was banished by the court of Wolfhagen for glorification of violence (§ 131 StGB). It took licensee Turbine Medien five years (2014-2019) to get the banishment revoked (by the district court of Fulda) and the film removed from the index.
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The theme song of the movie, "The Road Leads to Nowhere", is performed by David Hess, who also plays Krug in the movie.
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Matt Cove who played one of the bumbling cops in this movie, would go on to star on Cagney and Lacey for 6 seasons, as well as the Cobra Kai Sensai in Karate Kid.
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Fred J Lincoln, who played Krug gang member Weasel, has said he deeply regrets making this movie. This is ironic since Lincoln appeared in porn movies before and after Last House, and he has never said he regrets those. But then again those movies were not banned in several countries!
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The scene when Weasel walks up to the apartment door when Krug knocks on the door, Weasel asks "Who is it?" In which Krug responds "It's J. Edgar Hoover.". J. Edgar Hoover was the first director of the FBI from 1935 until his death in 1972. He died on May 2nd, 1972, 3 months and 28 days before the film's release.
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Cameo 

Jonathan Craven: Director Wes Craven's son plays the little boy who has his balloon popped by Krug Stillo's cigar.
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Steve Miner: (production assistant) hippie taunting the sheriff and deputy.
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Director Trademark 

Wes Craven: [Strong female characters] Mari, Phyllis, Sadie and Mari's mother.
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Wes Craven: [Elaborate methods] Booby traps are used to capture a villain.
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Wes Craven: [Blurring of dreams and reality] Krug has an ominous dream sequence.
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Wes Craven: [Suburbia] The murders occur in suburbia.
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Wes Craven: [Incompetent police] The police officers are portrayed as incompetent.
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Wes Craven: [Knives/blades] Knives or blades are frequently used as murder weapons.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

On the R1 DVD one of the actresses claims that for the "piss yer pants" scene, real urine was used. However, this contradicts David Szulkin's book on the making of the film, which states that a wet makeup sponge was concealed in Lucy Grantham's jeans.
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Wes Craven originally wanted Mari's father to kill Krug by slicing him multiple times with a scalpel during the climatic fight. Sean S. Cunningham insisted that the fight be more explosive and voted to have Krug killed with a chainsaw instead.
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The derelict dollhouse in the woods seen during Phyllis' murder scene wasn't a prop but was actually found in the wooded shooting location.
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A scene of Mari's parents finding her clinging to life long enough to tell them about her attackers was shot but cut from the movie.
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Body Count 6
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Originally the shot panning across the pond after the gang washes the blood off of them ended on an image of Mari, alive and clinging to a branch. The shot was altered to dissolve to the next scene when the movie was edited to have Mari's character never found alive.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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