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The Last House on the Left (1972)

A shocking and controversial exploration of the evil in mankind.

Directed by:

Wes Craven

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 81 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United States

Sandra Cassel and Lucy Grantham play Mari Collingwood and Phyllis Stone, a couple of carefree teenagers on their way to a rock concert to celebrate Mari's birthday. Along the way, they stop to ask a young man if he knows where they can buy cannabis. This is Junior Stillo (Marc Sheffler) and he takes them back to his flat. There they meet Krug (David Hess), Sadie (Jeramie Rain) and Weasel (Fred J Lincoln). Soon after the girls arrive, they find themselves in trouble when Junior locks the door and the others close in.

Mari and Phyllis are subject to an attack and then loaded into the boot of the gang's car. They head north, taking the girls with them while they are on the run from the police. The group stop in a secluded wood that is coincidentally very near Mari's house. There they torment the girls and then kill them. Aware that the police are closing in, the gang seek refuge in the nearest house with John and Estelle Collingwood (Gaylord St James and Cynthia Carr) not realising that they are Mari's parents. When John and Estelle find out what has happened to Mari, they will seek a grisly revenge.

Horror master Wes Craven's cinematic debut has been banned in the UK since its release, but is now finally available albeit with cuts. The failure to gain a certificate in its uncut form is hard to understand given the recent release of many other controversial films in their uncut versions. This rough low-budget film nonetheless shows Craven's early promise, although it is ironic that his later films are much bloodier than this. The movie is a comment on the portrayal of violence on film, and to that end it is the realistic handling of the violence and killings that have brought this film its notoriety, and that mark it as different from Craven's later work. This significant film influenced many later filmmakers, but is far from being comfortable viewing.

It's Got: Really unpleasant scenes of torture and killing.

It Needs: To finally be released uncut in the UK.

DVD Extras The extras provide plenty of added value with this two-disc edition. Extras: Commentary by writer/director Wes Craven and producer Sean S Cunningham, Commentary by actors David Hess, Marc Sheffler and Fred Lincoln, Celluloid Crime of the Century featurette, Scoring featurette, Tour documentary, Out-takes and dailies, Theatrical trailers, TV spots, Radio spots, Poster & stills gallery, Talent bios, Early unfinished Wes Craven short, Alternate cut, Collectors booklet. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10

Alternatives:

Clockwork Orange, Day of the Woman., The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Summary

In many ways this is a flawed film, but nonetheless it is an important contribution to the small group of films that have chosen to use realism to show the true horror of violence.

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