Last House on the Left (1972, 2009)

For a film that created so much controversy at the time of its release, the original Last House on the Left had a wild and corny soundtrack. A happy traveling song fit for Benny Hill (with kazoo, no less!) precedes the violent murders of two young girls who lack escape skills. By now Wes Craven and company must realize that the film would be a million times better with no soundtrack at all. And it’s not only the music that is a problem. There are a couple of moronic local cops who waste time and comically fail to hitch a ride with a stereotypical southern black woman driving a truck load of chickens. All of this equates to around 20 irrelevant minutes.

Better to get to the heart of the story. A ragtag, ruthless group of criminals (plus the leaders’ son who, in the original, dreams of being a frog) murder two girls and then coincidentally that same night wind up at the home of one of the girl’s parents.

While the film received much criticism for its realistic depiction of rape and murder, the most interesting aspect of Last House is the change in the parents of the victim. Early in both films, we see a lighthearted, gentle couple. When they realize the people who tormented their daughter are in their home, they turn as sadistic as the villians.

The remake actually does a better job working into that transformation, and the parents’ blistering savage revenge has several moments that deserve literal applause (squeeze a nose that merely an hour ago you stitched up? hell yea!). At the same time, however, the remake goes soft by allowing two characters who perished in the first film to survive. [rating: 1972 – $6, 2009 – $8] –Kenyon