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Review: ‘The Last House on the Left’ is One of the Grandparents of the Exploitation Genre

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Review: 'The Last House on the Left' is One of the Grandparents of the Exploitation Genre

Before Freddy Krueger, there was Krug Stillo. Krug and his gang are a vicious bunch, but do they stand a chance against parents out for revenge?

The Last House on the Left (1972) is Wes Craven’s directorial debut. Comprised of a bunch of unknown or even first time actors, Craven felt that films of the time were glamorizing violence and wanted to create the episode. He set out to make a film so shocking and jarring that it would put violence in it’s place and showcase the raw need for revenge. And it worked.

Mari and Phyllis are your average teenage girls. They plan to go to a concert in the city, despite the protests of Mari’s parents. On the way to the concert, they hear a warning on the radio telling of escaped prisoners that are on the loose. Of course, not paying much mind, the girls head into town for their big night. While there, they are looking to score some Devil’s lettuce and run into one of the gang, Junior. Junior is the son of Krug and he uses this opportunity to take advantage of the girls. After talking the girls into going with him, the girls find themselves stuck with maniacs. The story progresses and the girls are taken out the woods, which happens to be wear Mari’s house is located. The party has just begun, though. The girls are raped and tortured over what we presume are a couple of hours.

The Last House on the Left 1972 Cast

*SPOILER ALERT*

This does not end well for the girls. Our dangerous gang has car trouble and they look for a place to stay for the night. They happen upon Mari’s home. Meanwhile, Mari’s parents have grown concerned for her daughter. They place the blame on Phyllis, as they see her as a bad influence. They contact police and in the middle of trying to find their daughter, they get some unexpected guests. You can only imagine the events that happen next.

*END SPOILER*

Last House was met with extremely critical reviews. A lot of publications strictly focused on the violence depicted in the film. The film underwent a few name changes such as, Sex Crime of the Century and Krug and Company. So many different cuts of the film exist due to specific restrictions in certain countries that there are even “lost” scenes of the movie and an entire version of the film is hard to come by. People would stand outside of the theaters and protest the film while others would actually steal the film and destroy it.

This movie is worth the watch and is one that I find myself revisiting. It has that gritty film style that these movies are good at. The revenge of the parents makes the entire movie worth watching. Considering they weren’t experienced, the cast does a great job with the acting. Craven did try to use the police officers as some type of comic relief and that doesn’t work here. Overall, this movie did amazing things for film without even realizing and is one of the grandparents of the exploitation genre. I highly recommend it.

In 2009, a remake was released. Craven was the producer for the remake and was happy to go along with it as he thought that this was still an ongoing reality for some and wanted to continue to bring light to the subject matter. As with any remake, there are a few changes made but I would still recommend it. The torture scenes are not nearly as brutal but the revenge is just as effective as they were in the original. I have a personal preference for the original but the remake does it justice.

If you so choose to watch either, just keep repeating to yourself. It’s only a movie…only a movie…only a movie…

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