The horror genre is nothing if not cyclical. Horror films are frequently picked apart and reassembled again in new packaging for new audiences. Sometimes this results in modern classics. Other times it results in a blasphemous product that defaces the legacy of the original. Spoilers for both films follow! In , fledgling director Wes Craven unleashed his first feature film on the world. The Last House on the Left was written and directed by Craven after cutting his teeth in the porn industry. Also gone?
It is a nasty film that has been cut, censored, and banned so many times since its release 45 years ago today, that a great deal of it is considered lost. It also provoked heated debates regarding violence against women in cinema. It might be ugly but 45 years on The Last House on the Left remains a paradigmatic work. John Gaylord St. James and Estelle Cynthia Carr. Hess , a serial rapist and killer.
Common Sense says
Director: Wes Craven. Hess, Fred Lincoln. I thought you were supposed to be the love generation. Violence, in all of its forms, is part-and-parcel of the revenge exploitation film. Once in a while a movie comes along that utilizes violence and genre limitations to distill ugly but necessary social commentary from a simple narrative. The gang inflicts unspeakable atrocities upon the two young women and when the parents of one of the girls run into the same gang later, they decide to dispense their own justice.
In addition to the usual violence and gore, the horror film Last House on the Left - opening today - contains an incredibly graphic rape scene. Yet, the film is rated R, not NC Last House on the Left is a remake of a film directed by Wes Craven about a Charles Manson-like gang who rape and torture two women to death, prompting the victims' parents to stalk and kill them in a similarly gruesome way. The film is inspired by a 13th century folk ballad about a girl who is raped in the woods and whose attackers unknowingly take refuge in her parents house. In his review , Roger Ebert, who has seen four movies based on the story, said, "So now my job as a film critic involved grading rape scenes I don't think I can. New York Post critic Kyle Smith wrote on his blog that, "Those who see the world through a feminist eye will be especially outraged because it involves a visceral, genuinely terrifying rape" that is so excruciating to watch, a couple in front of him walked out of the theater. Times film writer Patrick Goldstein was so disgusted by the film he titled a blog post - which, in turn, inspired this post - about the film, "My Mistake: An Apology To The Makers of RapeLay," saying that he spoke too soon when he called the Japanese rape simulation video game "sleazier than any Hollywood horror film. How is it possible that the MPAA ratings board could give a film with this much brutal, graphic violence an R rating instead of an NC?