The Last House on the Left (1972), by Albert W. Vogt III

When I started The Legionnaire, I promised not to review pornography.  The Last House on the Left (1972) as about as close as I ever care to get to that line.  As such, this will be a short article.  I will not be discussing the plot.  In fact, I will make my recommendation here and now: do not see this movie.  If you feel like reading, please continue.

I knew I was in trouble before I started The Last House on the Left.  The words of long-time film critic Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune shall serve in place of my own as to why I stuck it out: “I felt a professional obligation to stick around to see if there was any socially redeeming value in the remainder of the movie and found none.”  That is because it is a film about two teenaged girls who are kidnapped, raped, and murdered.  The killers, then, manage to find their way to the house of one their victim’s, the title locale.  When her parents figure out the identity of their guests, they plan a violent, Home Alone (1990) style revenge that results in the deaths of the four perpetrators.  Given the gore and sexual content, there is truly nothing of value in this movie, from a faith or cultural perspective, or any other kind of perspective you might put forward.  Wait, you might say, this is Wes Craven’s directorial debut!  What a wasted entrée into the film industry.  If you care enough, look up what Sandra Peabody, née Cassell, who played one of the teenaged girls, had to say about the filming.  Craven had to console her throughout the shoot because it was so emotionally distressing for her.  That should tell you all you need to know to not watch this movie.

The Last House on the Left is also a difficult film to figure.  Clearly, it is a slasher movie.  Yet the tone is all out of sorts. Between the bloodier moments, there are shots of idyllic nature scenes.  While violent acts are perpetrated, there is strange, sort of upbeat country music played.  There are plot holes galore.  When the parents figure out that they have killers in the house, somehow they know to go behind their house and find the body of their daughter.  And they next bring the corpse back into the house?  Why?  Also, let us talk about the police.  One of the two cops in town, by the way, is played by Martin Kove.  If that name does not ring an immediate bell, he plays John Kreese in the Karate Kid franchise.  Side bar over.  Him and the other cop are two of the most inept law enforcement officers in the history of the profession.  First, they let their car run out of gas.  They set out when they hear of the cabal of killers, two of which escaped from prison, are in the area where the victim’s parents live.  They immediately rush out, a drive they estimate will take them twenty-five minutes.  They get part way there before their vehicle breaks down.  It is still bright day light outside, late summer or early fall.  Seeing no other choice, they begin walking, and their attempts to flag down other cars are met with scorn.  When they set out, everyone is still alive.  By the time they get to the house, it is roughly 2:00 am and six people have died.  Way to go!  The stupidity of this made me feel like my brain was slipping out of my head and I almost died.  Hyperbole aside, this also speaks to the hard to follow tone.  If this were in any other picture, it would be funny.  In this one, it is gross negligence, and makes the proceedings all the worse.

I did not go into detail about The Last House on the Left’s plot because I did not want to talk about the grizzly acts contained therein.  May God have mercy on the souls of those who made this film.  There is one brief, shining moment in this filth.  It is after Peabody’s character is raped, and before she is eventually murdered.  She does something that is not uncommon with any martyr: she prays.  There is a lot of grace in doing this at the moment of death.  Salvation history testifies to this fact.  It is the best thing that I can say about the film.  The rest is a bunch of garbage that should never again see the light of day, or be fodder for a remake, which was apparently done in 2009.  It is also a lie.  The beginning of the film says that these are true events, but that names have been changed to spare the living.  In reality, and thankfully, this never happened.


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