Movies

Quick “review”: The Last House on the Left (1972)



Synopsis: En route to a concert, two teenage girls are sexually assaulted, tortured, and killed by a sadistic gang in the woods. When the thugs inadvertently hole up in one of the victim’s houses, her parents have their revenge.

Controversy: Loosely inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring and blessed with a home-movie crudeness, Wes Craven’s rape-revenge thriller pushed the limits of good taste, from its horrifically violent scenes of comeuppance to a notorious scene in which a character is forced to urinate on herself. (We can be thankful that the director abandoned the idea of including hardcore pornography like he’d originally planned.) New York Times critic Howard Thompson admitted to walking out after 50 minutes of this “sickening tripe,” and despite a few prominent critics rising to its defense at various times, Last House stayed on the U.K.’s notorious “video nasties” list for decades, losing appeal after appeal until finally getting an uncut video release in 2008. Even its lead actor, Fred Lincoln, once said that “I wish it had been banned in the United States.”

Rating: 8

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