I was going to recommend something else for this weekend, but then we had the untimely passing of Wes Craven. You always seem to take for granted that your favorites will be around until suddenly they’re not (on that note: Mr. Barker, make sure you’re in tip-top shape. I cannot handle you passing this year). I try to let people know what they mean to me on a regular basis for that reason: they can be gone in an instant, and there is no feeling quite so acute as the regret of not having told someone how import they are. So in that spirit, I’m recommending one that many of you have probably seen, but some of you haven’t. Here are five reasons to seek out 1972’s Last House on the Left on iTunes this weekend.
|“It’s only a movie…”|
#1 – It’s Craven’s directorial debut
Younger audiences (I’m looking at you, whipper snappers) will immediately name off some of Craven’s later titles as examples of his work. That’s perfectly fine, but if you haven’t seen this one yet, you’ve done yourself a disservice. This was the first feature he directed. It’s proof that he was good from the get-go. In a sense, it’s like looking at an old photograph of a loved one: you marvel at how young and raw the thing before you is. And damn is this one loaded.
#2 – It’s effectively scary
As he progressed, Craven’s works began to show much more of a sense of humor. I’ll admit that The People Under the Stairs has some really funny moments that make me cackle. This one doesn’t have that. It has some questionable dialogue at the beginning of the film (really, ladies, who talks like that?), but it is knock-down, drag-out terrifying and relentless. It managed to capture the sense of escalating fear of two girls in the middle of a hellish captivity. It makes you sick and angry at multiple points. It’s brutal. You’re waiting on baited breath for the next scene.
#3 – It’s controversial
Some love boasting about having watched banned films. Plain and simple, they’re in it for the bragging rights. This one has that aspect as well. It’s been banned and/or restricted in multiple countries. Our friends in the U.K. in particular had a tough time legally obtaining it (wink, nudge) based upon the depictions of sadism, torture and sexual assault. It’s unsettling. You can see why it caused such a fuss. There are stories of the actors having had a tough time filming this. I’d believe that.
|This scene was just as intense for the actors as it was the audience.|
#4 – The soundtrack
Stephen Chapin and David Hess produced a soundtrack that is haunting and effective. It adds to the action in all the right ways. At times, it seems mismatched with the action, which only works to make what’s unfolding in front of you that much more horrifying. When sound can add that much to your sense of unease, it’s worth checking out.
#5 – The revenge theme
To watch a pair of nice, normal parents go into a cold, murderous plot to avenge their brutalized baby strikes the instinct of passing on one’s genes soundly. I don’t know one parent that wouldn’t kill for his or her child; as a parent, the thought of someone harming my children terrifies me. Even if you don’t have kids/never want kids/are undecided on kids, you can appreciate that your parents would most likely have this reaction as well.
|Can’t look at this the same way.|
From this humble blogger, thank you, Wes. You showed us something that no one would ever wish to endure in life, and in this sense, you helped many examine their own possible actions. You got us to think as well as be scared. For that, I am grateful. You will be missed.