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July 18, 2024

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DVD: Last House on the Left (MGM)
By: Randy Harward

Scary movies no longer break boundaries; they adhere to them for fear of the NC-17 rating. Anyone who has the nuts to push the twisted envelope must do so within the cash-strapped confines of the indie film world. Thus, their art is automatically graded "B." Studios can't risk alienating that all-important teen demographic with graphic depictions of sex and violence so they stick to the same bag of tricks. It's hard to say whether they're pussies or the audiences are simply too dumb to demand innovation.

Major studios would do well to remember the success of films such as Last House On The Left and The Exorcist. Despite outcry from parents and piety police, teens were skipping school to catch matinees, providing a good share of the gross. The Exorcist remains immensely popular in rental outlets and sells steadily. Last House will, likely on a smaller scale, do the same.

The film, a debut for legendary horror auteur Wes Craven has been mired in out-of-print cult status until its current DVD release. It's less a horror film per se, than an abduction tale. Synopsized: two girls looking for weed on their way to a concert are abducted and terrorized by a quartet of escaped murderers. Can't spill much more or the plot is blown. Suffice it to say that "terrorized" encompassed enough shocking sex and gore (at least for the early 70s) to get a whole lotta prudes' panties in a twist. But, by God, it was entertaining! People flocked to see the film because we are, by design, morbid motherfuckers. We want to see that shit.

Again, sadly, nothing in recent times compares. The Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises grow increasingly lame. Zombie flicks are a no-show. No one can conjure a decent, original monster or supernatural homicidal maniac. Instead, we're left with formulaic vehicles for rappers, surrounded by the talentless beautiful. And it's funny: many of these films are made by Mr. Wes Craven. There's our pussy.

Thank God Last House On The Left has been re-released. It might be somewhat tame by current standards, but it will serve to remind people of the value of one sick independent fuck. (A, if you ignore the crap soundtrack, lame jokes and bad acting. B, otherwise).

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