31 Days of Horror visits 1972’s The Last House on the Left. Wes Craven’s first outing as writer/director is not for anyone with a weak stomach. This viscerally charged, violent, and sadistic horror film includes images that will stick with you for weeks afterward. As the trailer and poster say, “To avoid fainting, keep repeating: It’s only a movie.” (Check out the original trailer below)
And it’s true, of course. But there’s something about this particular movie that transcends the idea that what you are witnessing on the screen is fake. Craven enables your suspension of disbelief to such a degree that there are moments in the film where you do feel sick to your stomach and even guilty for having just witnessed such events.
And what is the most intense and horrific event in the film? That would be the rape/evisceration of a young girl by three sadistic criminals; one of which is a woman. This sequence is probably one of the first that made me have to stop the movie and get some air before returning to it. It’s that intense and disturbing.
Now, I’ve seen all the Saws, both Hostels, and feel I can tolerate a lot of blood, gore, and violence on the screen. What makes this sequence in The Last House on the Left so jarring is how real it looks. Saw and Hostel are stylized; their set-ups are elaborate. This particular scene happens in the woods, in broad daylight, and the camera work suggests a voyeuristic feel instead of cinematic one.
For his ability to do this type of sequence (one that made crew members physically sick) is a testament to why Wes Craven is one the best horror directors in the biz. He has the power to dig deep into an audience’s psyche through his presentation of images that result in a shitload of emotional responses. Even with all the carnage he directed in Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, this moment in The Last House on the Left remains one of the most shocking and moments in horror movie history.
Oh, and when the girl’s parents fight back against the three psychos who killed their daughter, it’s a pretty awesome series of events!
As a whole, The Last House on the Left is a great film with some very shocking and graphic moments. If you love horror movies and have not seen the original version of The Last House on the Left, I highly recommend you watch it.
What scenes in horror movies have left you feeling sick afterward? Leave a comment and let us know!