There are some horror films that can be so terrifying that they leave the audience feeling shaken and afraid. Wes Craven’s signature film The Last House On The Left is that kind of film. It is easy to see how this launched his directing career and influenced many horror films to come over the following decades.
The story is all about cruelty and revenge which is basically what fuels the film in general. For the majority of the film it centers around its two main characters getting viciously assaulted, raped and finally murdered by a group of psychopaths. In a ironic twist the killers are then killed by the parents of the victims with equal brutality.
The deaths of the characters are some of the most horrifying ever put on film. Unlike some films the deaths are really long and drawn out. By this I mean that it is only after about half way through the film that its two main characters die after going through a hell load of abuse. Well at least their not alone. As for the deaths of the villains they are all insanely violent. Especially Krug, but he deserves it.
I have to admit that the acting is very nice. The two lead characters Mari (Sandra Cassell) and Phyllis (Lucy Grantham) are believable and the audience can actually feel sad for them when they go through all the abuse over the course of the story. The central villain Krug Stillo (David Hess) is a sick, twisted psycho who is completely free of any coolness and seems almost kind of realistic. The other three villains Junior (Marc Sheffler), Sadie (Jeramie Rain) and Fred “Weasel” Podowski (Fred Lincoln) are all competent in terms of acting skills. Mari’s parents Dr. Collingwood (Gaylord St. James) and Estelle (Cynthia Carr) are the two best characters by the end simply because they get the pleasure of killing Krug, Sadie and Fred.
Bottom line, this film is unbelievable. It’s vile, brutal, ugly and just about one Wes Craven’s best films. There are horror films that have the power to scare their audience by pushing the boundary of acceptable violence to its limit and the original of The Last House On The Left is proof of that.