Written by Puño Estupendo
Most people that I discuss horror films with are surprised whenever I say that I'm not a big fan of Wes Craven's movies. I know, I know, he's this big deal legend of horror and all that, but I just don't like his films. I generally think they're either boring or they just don't do anything for me. Sure A Nightmare on Elm Street was awesome when it came out (before it turned into the ridiculous franchise that it did) but I outgrew it. The Scream movies were anything but horror in my opinion because they didn't scare me, and I always thought that the actors and actresses in them treated the movie like they were intentionally slumming in the genre just to be "cool."
In having this conversation many times over the years, I save the most surprising fact until the moment is right. After going round and round about my non-fan status, I drop the bomb by saying "Except for The Last House On The Left; that one is awesome!" Even the most desensitized of people are known to not be able to watch that one. An unflinching tale of rape, torture, murder and revenge, Last House has a disturbing level of true horror that is only topped by the feelings you're left with after the movie has ended.
Two young women run into the wrong group of people while trying to buy some weed before going to a concert. They're abducted and subjected to every sort of nightmare that people fear when they think about that situation happening. The perpetrators of this crime later find themselves in the home of the parents of one of their victims. The parents realize what has happened and (in facing their horror) seek revenge against their guests, unleashing a ferocity all their own.
What you can't sum up in a plotline is how visceral and grotesque the feelings of this film are. Originally released in 1972 and shot with a very grainy, amateurish look and style, this movie hits beats and emotions that I don't believe I've ever seen matched before or since. It's very simple to throw the phrase "disturbing" around when talking horror, but this one earns it. I'm hard pressed to think of a film (other than documentaries) that bring the emotional strength of how repulsive and soul-crushing true violence is.