in Shocktober

Shocktober: Day 12

The Last House on the Left (1972)

Dir: Wes Craven
Cast: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David Hess, Fred J. Lincoln Jeramie Rain

“The seventies already? What about the last 12 years?” Well let me explain. The sixties are tricky because most of the notable 60s horror flicks came out at the beginning of the decade, with the exceptions of films like Rosemary’s Baby in 1967 and Night of the Living Dead in 1968. The thing is I already reviewed most of the “big ones” on my old blog, so I’m skipping ahead to the seventies where there’s a whole slew of creepy classics, let us proceed.

So even in his debut film Wes Craven had to deal with a fair share of controversy. Though what did he really expect with a movie about a gang of murdering rapists? Originally intended to be a a graphic “Hardcore” film it was changed to more of a thriller/slasher flick, but it’s still a mighty disturbing film. Basically it’s about a pair of teenage girls that head to the city to see a rock concert. Looking to score some marijuana they accidentally hookup with a gang that just happens to be a group of psychotic convicts. So the convicts have their way with the girls, take them to the woods, and kill them without hesitation. This leads to the main girl’s distraught parents seeking vengeance on the murderers and vengeance they get.

Apart from it’s graphic content the film is also notable for it’s bizarre ever changing tones. Throughout the film were constantly hearing a hippy-like folk soundtrack that was written and partially sung by the film’s main villain (David Hess). There’s also a pair of bumbling cops who seem completely out of place, getting into wacky situations with campy clown music. I can’t think of any other film that’s so purposely unbalanced but it sure creates an unsettling mood.

My first reaction after seeing it was “What the hell was that?” And though I’m still not crazy about it, I can see why it’s an influential film in it’s drive to break barriers. Kind of trailblazer in the horror/docudrama genre along with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Wes Craven would of course go on to bigger and better things but this is was an intriguing debut that still has the ability to unnerve and disturb viewers.