A Study In Misery. Last House on the Left (1972) (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review



Studio: Arrow Films

Release Date: August 30th, 1972 / July 3rd, 2018 (Blu-ray)

Run Time: 84 mins (Unrated) / 83 mins (Krug and Co.) / 81 mins (R-rated)

Picture: 1080p (1.85:1)

Sound: English LPCM 2.0

Starring: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David A. Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Marc Sheffler

Written by Wes Craven

Directed by Wes Craven

Rating: Unrated (strong sadistic and disturbing violence including sexual assault and abuse and for language and some sexual content) R-rated version contained on disc as well.

THE FEATURES ⭐⭐⭐1/2

Disc 1:

  • Unrated Version (1h 24m, HD)


Stand Still: The Legacy of Last House on the Left (14m 54s, SD) 2009 interview with Wes Craven where he talks about the film’s influences (mostly Vietnam) and the script. He also talks for a bit about the 2009 remake.

Celluloid Crime of the Century (39m 24s, SD) 2002 making-of documentary from Blue Underground. Wes Craven, Sean S. Cunningham, David Hess, Fred Lincoln, and a few others are present to talk about the making of Last House and what everyone did on the film. There are some great stories here (some creepy ones too) which makes this the de facto doc for the film.

Scoring Last House (9m 44s, SD) 2002 interview with actor and composer David Hess. He talks about his approach to scoring the film as well as dissects the songs used in the film.

It’s Only A Movie: The Making of Last House on the Left (29m 1s, SD, 1.33:1) 2002 featurette covering the making of Last House. If you have watched Celluloid Crime of the Century then you have watched this, basically. All of the stories told in the above doc are told here. There is not much new here.

Forbidden Footage (8m 12s, SD) Cast and Crew talk about the film’s most controversial scenes.

Junior’s Story (14m 24s, HD) 2017 interview with actor Marc Sheffler. Talks about how this was the first non-porn film that he made and his time with Wes Craven.

Blood and Guts: A Conversation with Anne Paul (13m 52s, HD) 2018 interview with make-up artist Anne Paul. She talks about how she auditioned for a role as one of the two girls (victims) and when she lost out she told Craven and Cunningham that she knew how to do make-up. She was hired for $25/day (a price she came up with because she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to do it.) She then spends the rest of the interview detailing the different make-ups that she used on the cast.

The Road Leads to Terror: The Locations of Last House (5m 48s, HD) Film journalist Michael Gringold revists some of the locations from the film.

Deleted Scene: Mari Dying at the Lake (1m 4s, HD) This is a scene that is taken from the Krug and Co. cut of the film where Mari’s parents find her on the shore of the lake, dying.

Outtakes and Dailies (47m 38s, HD) Raw footage presented without sound.

Trailers, TV and Radio Spots 

  • Trailer 1 (1m 14s, HD)
  • Trailer 2 (2m 6s, HD)
  • TV Spot (32s, HD)
  • Radio Spots (5m 45s, SD)


Image Galleries 

  • Stills (65 images)
  • Promotional Material (65 images)


Commentaries

  • Bill Ackerman and Amanda Reyes
  • Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham
  • David Hess, Marc Sheffler, and Fred Lincoln


Isolated Score (Presented in LPCM 2.0)

Disc 2:

Krug and Co. (1h 23m, HD)

R-rated Version (1h 21m, HD)

The Craven Touch (17m 10s, HD) Sean S. Cunningham, Charles Berstein, Peter Locke, Mark Irwin, and Amanda Wyss are on hand to talk about Craven, his methods, and the type of person he was.

Early Days and “Night of Vengeance” (9m 4s, HD) Filmmaker Roy Frumkes remembers Craven and Last House. Frumkes has some great stories to tell and I wish that this interview had been longer because you get the sense that there is more to tell.

Tales That’ll Tear Your Heart Out (11m 19s, HD) Footage from an uncompleted anthology film directed by Wes Craven, presented with no sound as the track has been lost.

Marc Sheffler Q and A (12m 25s, HD) Screening at the American Cinematheque in July 2017. Repeats many of the stories told in featurettes found elsewhere on the disc.

Songs in the Key of Krug (9m 41s, HD) Never-before-seen interview with David Hess.

Krug Conquers England (24m 14s, SD, 1.33:1) Archival documentary covering the U.K.’s first ever uncut screen of Last House. Featuring interviews with David Hess and Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s Gunnar Hansen.


THE PACKAGING N/A

I was sent a screener of this set, so I can not review the packaging. That being said, I do know that this set will come packaged like the other Limited Edition that Arrow has put over the last year and a half. The packaging will be that of the chipboard variety with a 14mm clear blu-ray case inside to hold the three discs. A poster, six lobby cards, and the film’s soundtrack round out the packaging.

THE PICTURE ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Arrow has provided a great looking 1080p transfer for Last House on the Left from a 2K restoration. Presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Left House on the Left has never looked better. There is a heavy amount of grain here (the film was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm). The grain gives the picture a very film-like feel and gives way to a good amount of detail. Colors look accurate, if grim and skin tones look good. Colors are fairly muted here, but that is the way the film looks. One of the things that I noticed this time around is that the intestines that the group pull out of the girl that they have killed in the forest look a lot like condoms stuck together (they are condoms). The detail gives away the secret this time around. All in all, this is a great transfer.

THE SOUND ⭐⭐⭐

The English LPCM 2.0 track is very well handled. Last House on the Left is a horror film that relies on sound almost as much as it does on the picture and Arrow has done a great job of recreating the very unpleasant film going experience. Dialogue can be a bit muffled here and there but mostly comes through unscathed. The film’s score and songs, by Krug himself David Hess, sounds wonderful here and the film’s sound effects are all here.

THE FILM (See Review for Scores)

On the eve of her 17th birthday, Mari and friend Phyllis set off from her family home to the big city to attend a concert by shock-rockers Bloodlust. Attempting to pick up some marijuana on the way, the pair run afoul of a group of vicious crooks headed up by the sadistic and depraved Krug (David Hess). Gagged and bound, the young women are bundled into a car trunk and driven to the woods, where the gang subjects them to a terrifying ordeal of sexual humiliation, torture, and murder.
This is a hard review to write. As a horror fan I try to champion all of the horror films that I can because, even though I am just one person in a sea of millions, one person can turn on many in either direction. I think that horror is one of the purest forms of any medium. We love to be scared and it is one of the only genres where we, as the audience, can set our own boundaries for what we can handle in terms of how scary, or how gory, a film is. This is something that isn't really found in any other genre.  How many times do you ask yourself “Can I handle all of this family film sweetness”? Or “This film is just way too funny to keep on watching.” I am going to venture a guess and say that probably doesn't happen.

So as a horror fan, I sometimes get behind a film that may be outside of my comfort zone because I think that it is a well-made film or there will be some who will like the film.

This thinking applies to Last House on the Left. The film is vile, wretched, disgusting, and one of the most “mainstream” extreme horror films of all time. The film is hard to sit through even if you have seen the film before and I could not recommend the film to anyone who doesn’t know what they are getting themselves into. The film is pure exploitation and revels in it. This is one of the first “rape revenge” films ever made and those that have come after it is usually trying to copy it with many failing.

That being said, Last House on the Left is also a very important film. Like I said before, the film is the grandfather of the “rape revenge” horror films and does what it does so very well that others have copied, but never reproduced it’s intensity and feeling of dread. The film is well made, going with a documentary style of filmmaking that many filmmakers started using in the 70’s. This lent the film a new level of realism as it felt like what we were watching was real. While this style wasn’t used in a lot of horror films (many directors still felt that the genre itself was the selling point) it was used in a lot of action films and thrillers. Williams Friedkin, who directed The Exorcist a year after Last House, would use it very famously in The French Connection.

The acting is also great. Davis Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, and Marc Sheffler are spot on as the attackers. They bring a desperation to the roles that I don’t think had been seen on screen before. They are beyond evil, but also show a humanity. When they disembowel Phyllis. The group seems to feel a remorse for what they have done. They don’t repent, but they don’t really feel the same way afterwards.

The actors who play the two girls are great as well. Both girls bring a happiness and a naivety to the roles. Both girls are really happy to be going to a rock concert but are punished for trying to score some pot. Sandra Peabody, who plays Mari, has a scene where she is raped by Krug. She has a blank look on her face which is her separating herself from what is happening to her body. This is one of the saddest performances in the film. What happens to these two girls is some of the worst things I have ever seen in any film.

It is hard to believe that Wes Craven, who gave us A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, and Sean S. Cunningham of Friday the 13th fame could give us a film so ugly and brutal. I know that there will be those out there that will tell me that “of course they had it in them, look at the films that came after”. Last House on the Left is such a different film than those that came after it. Craven gave us plenty of horror films after this, but none of them were in the same realm as Last House. His films could be called “fun”, something that Last House never is.

NOTE: Please do not think that I am trying to attack anyone for liking something that I do not. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and this is just mine. Even though I do not like this film that doesn't mean that I am hating on those that do. There are plenty of things to get mad at people over and film is not one of them. There are films that I like that others hate and visa versa. Last House on the Left is a film that has gotten to my core and left me shaken. That doesn't mean that it is not a good film. It just means that it is not the film for me. If you like, or love, the film, I am happy for you (I really am. I am not trying to be sarcastic.). It is the type of film that is there to elicit a reaction and be divisive. This was just a really hard film to get through. I am also not afraid to say "Even though I love horror, sci-fi, etc, The Last House on the Left is a film that bothered me to my core."

So, what score am I giving this film, which I call “vile” while at the same time calling it “important”? I had to think long and hard about this one. I don’t want to recommend the film, but at the same time, those who are becoming fans of Craven will have to see the film eventually. I think that anyone who attempts to watch the film or shows any interest in the film should know what they are getting themselves into. This isn’t a fun horror film like Friday the 13th or A Nightmare Elm Street. This is a brutal horror film that pulls no punches, shows everything that it can, and stays with you long after the film has ended. While it does succeed in its attempts to scar you for life, I also can not recommend the film to many people.

I have decided to give the film two ratings: one for the film itself and one for the film’s legacy.

The film: ⭐

The legacy: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

OVERALL ⭐⭐⭐ (fans only)

I will admit that I had a hard time making it through this film. I found myself feeling sick many times even when the effects look fake. It is the atmosphere and the rape that gets me. I can not recommend this film to anyone besides the ones that already know about it or are looking for something out of their boundaries. I do not regret watching Last House as I need to know where my boundaries are. This film went far beyond those so know I know what I can handle and what to stay away from.

The blu-ray, from Arrow Video, is a fan's dream. The picture looks amazing on all three versions of the film and the sound isn't bad. The special features dive into everything a fan could want to know about and see when it comes to Last House. This is as ultimate of an edition as I have ever seen.