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Last House on the Left, The (DVD)

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Last House on the Left DVD (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring David Hess, Sandra Cassel, Lucy Grantham, Fred J. Lincoln, Marc Sheffler

Directed by Wes Craven

Distributed by MGM and Fox Home Entertainment


Despite its age Wes Craven’s 1972 shocker The Last House on the Left remains one of the hardest movies in our genre to sit through. Not because it’s bad; in fact, it’s excellent. It’s the sheer brutality of the film’s events that makes it so unsettling. MGM/Fox have obviously recognized this movie’s impact and rightful place in the hierarchy of our genre, and as a result they’ve given this film the DVD treatment it rightfully deserves.

Last House tells the story of two young girls who, against their parents wishes, decide to head into the city to catch a rock concert. In the Seventies, man, concerts needed to be seen with various party favors to fully enjoy them. In this case said favor is pot. The quest for herb leads our two delicate beauties directly into the sleazy world of Krug (Hess) and his equally crazed and dirty friends. Once Krug and the Gang (also the name of a failed disco act) have our chicas gripped firmly in their clutches, our duo is beaten, stabbed, eviscerated, and raped — although not exactly in that order.

Last House on the Left DVD (click for larger image)Unfortunately for our homicidal lowlifes after their dirty deeds are done, they accidentally decide to take shelter in the home of one of the slain women. It’s not long before mom and dad find out what these cats have done, and when they do … it is not pretty. Not pretty at all.

This is a true product of its time. Gritty, sleazy, dirty, and demented, The Last House on the Left is just as powerful today as it was thirty-six years ago.

So what of the supplemental material? Is there a reason to double-dip? Well … isn’t there always? For those of you who didn’t import the three-DVD Last House set from the UK, you are in luck. Nearly all the features included here have been culled from that release.

Yep, it’s all here. The highly entertaining Celluloid Crime of the Century featurette that features interviews and anecdotes from all of the principals, Hess’ Scoring Last House featurette which has the actor discussing his inspiration for the score he created for the film, the lesbian rape sequence, etc. We even get one of the commentary tracks from the UK set with David Hess, Marc Sheffler, and Fred Lincoln. If you haven’t heard this yet, it’s worth the price tag of the disc alone. It’s stellar.

So the question beckons — is there anything at all new? There sure is: the Still Standing: The Legacy of The Last House on the Left featurette. But make no mistake; this is just a marketing tool for the remake. Nothing more. Sigh.

Fans hoping for oodles of new Last House stuff will surely find themselves disappointed, but for those of you who never bothered with the import release, you’ll find yourself in a state of filthy nirvana. If you fall into the latter category, double-dip away without hesitation!

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with David Hess, Marc Sheffler, and Fred Lincoln
  • Still Standing: The Legacy of The Last House on the Left featurette
  • Celluloid Crime of the Century featurette
  • Scoring Last House featurette
  • Tales that Will Tear Your Heart Out featurette
  • Deleted Scene: Mari Dying at the Lake
  • Never-before-seen outtakes
  • Wes Craven’s annotated shooting scripts
  • Photo Gallery

    Film:

    4 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

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    Friends Don’t Let Friends Review – A Haunting Mixture of Psychological Turmoil and Brutal Supernatural Horror

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    Starring Brittany Anne Woodford, Jenny Curtis, Kanin Guntzelman, Brendan McGowan, Jake White

    Directed by James S. Brown

    We all like to think of ourselves as being surrounded by friends, but let’s face it, if we were to ever truly hit hard times, there are probably very few, if any, people we could truly rely on. So on some level, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film we can all relate too, as it deals with this very issue.

    Stephanie is an emotionally unstable young woman who strangles her boyfriend to death after he insults and breaks up with her. She calls her friends to help her dispose the body out in the Joshua Tree National Part area, and instead of reporting her to the police, they reluctantly comply. As their car breaks down, the four friends find themselves alone at night in the Californian wilderness with the rotting corpse in need of disposal. Given their dire circumstances, they begin to become more and more aggressive towards each other, and this was where the film was really at its best. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how far the limits of their friendship could be stretched, and who would be the first to crack and turn on the others.

    Anyway, their body disposal endeavor soon proves to be a mistake, as Stephanie’s ex rises from the grave as vengeful zombie demon thing with claws as long as knives. I’ll admit, I first I thought Friends Don’t Let Friends was going to be a movie purely about the limits of trust, so I was pretty surprised when the supernatural elements came into play. And when they did, the trust and friendship elements of the plot were somewhat downplayed in favor of a more traditional horror approach, and while it was still entertaining, I still would have preferred for the film not to have strayed from its initial path. At least the ending came as a shocker. I won’t go into spoilers, but let’s just say the even the most attentive viewers probably won’t see it coming.

    As you can probably guess from a psychologically-driven film of this kind, the performances were top notch, with Brittany Anne Woodford being on particularly top form as the manipulative and unstable Stephanie, a character who revels in the revels in the power she felt when ending another human life.

    With its mixture of psychological turmoil and brutal supernatural horror, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film I would certainly recommend, but keep in mind that it may make you think twice when confiding in people who you think of as being your friends.

    8 out of 10.

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    Coulrophobia Review – One of the Most Entertaining Killer Clown Films in Quite Some Time

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    Starring Pete Bennett, Warren Speed, Daniella D’Ville, Roxy Bordeaux

    Directed by Warren Speed


    The word ‘Coulrophobia’ refers to the fear of clowns, and if you happen to suffer from it, you might want to avoid director Warren Speed’s film of the same name. However, if you can stand the sight of clowns with gaping wounds in their manly parts, then you’re in for one heck of a fun time.

    An all-female hockey team get lost deep in the Scottish woods on their way to a match (don’t ask), and are captured and forced to participate in a series of horrific games by the Grock family of clowns. All of the members of said family are absolutely fucking insane, but the one that really stood out was Twitch (Pete Bennett), who wears jester cloths and it said to have a short attention span. He longs to be a violin player and wishes he could blend in with normal society like the other members of his family. And you almost feel sorry for him, even though he’s a mad killer with bells on his head.

    Director Warren Speed also appeared as Milo, a grunting mute who had his tongue cut out when he was a boy. As mentioned above, we see a close-up shot of a open wound in his penis being stitched up, which is not an image that will be leaving your mind anytime soon. Speed is clearly fearless when it comes to his art.

    Inter-spliced with all the torture and mayhem, we also see documentary-style telling the sad history of the family involved, and this was where the film unfortunately faltered, because these scenes seemed out of place and just didn’t flow with the rest of the plot.

    Ultimately, however, Coulrophobia almost seems like a film Rob Zombie might have made before he lost his way and started churning out trash like 31. Comparisons to House of 1000 Corpses are inevitable, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. This is one of the most entertaining killer clown films in quite some time.

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    User Rating 2.94 (17 votes)
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    The Gatehouse Review – What Is Found in the Woods Should Be Left in the Woods

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    Starring Scarlett Rayner, Simeon Willis, Linal Haft

    Directed by Martin Gooch


    Now while no one will sneeze at the prospect of bringing up a bit of a rebellious child alone, it’s those damned kids that like to tempt fate by pissing off creatures in the woods…oh kids, they do the funniest things, don’t they?

    In Martin Gooch’s moderately spooky presentation, The Gatehouse, a struggling writer named Jack (Willis) finds himself behind the 8-ball following the tragic drowning death of his beloved wife, and if that isn’t enough to torque your drawers, his young daughter, Eternity (Rayner) is becoming quite the salty soul herself. Unfortunately the little one has been finding herself bullied at school, and her recourse of sorts is to simply toss attitude around as if it was pleasantly acceptable. Her pastime has become lonely wanderings in the deep woods, digging for hopeful treasures…and we all know what problems reside in the woods, don’t we, horror fans? Well, Eternity’s father is attempting to re-start his writing career with a frightening backstory – taking the reigns on a novel that was abruptly ended when the author committed suicide, and supposedly the tome is quite the dark piece of literature.

    Eternity’s never-ending quest for fortune and glory in the forest leads her to a most interesting (and ultimately) dangerous discovery (don’t sweat it – I won’t spill it for you). Bottom line here is this: the little girl has taken possession of something that should have been left in the friggin’ woods, and now someone (or something) wants it back PRONTO. What follows is a lackluster series of “spooky” events, and far be it from me to say, I’ve seen creepier stuff watching the evening news. Gooch then tries to bombard the audience with a plethora of instances and swerving plot direction – it’s fun at the beginning but can grow a bit tiresome over a duration.

    Performance-wise, both Rayner and Willis play the perfect combination of mentally-shot dad and determined-to-be-independent daughter – their scenes are ripe with subtle contempt, and the right amount of indecision. Overall, the film is best suited for those fans of fantasy/fable-like horror, and while it might not scare the pants off of you, it definitely will give us all another reason to stay the hell out of the woods once and for all.

    • Film
    3.0

    Summary

    Children in a forest-setting don’t always add up to cutesy-pie encounters with furry creatures – this one’s got a few scares to keep fans of coppice-horror appeased.

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    User Rating 3.56 (18 votes)
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