(1972) dir. Wes Craven
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Halloween (1978), & The Last House on the Left (1972), all “video nasties” as the English deem them, all 1970′s horror “classics”, all have been re-made in the past 5 years. I don’t mean this as a comprehensive list, but a simple sampling to contrast the fact that Wes Craven’s first feature film, The Last House on the Left, while shocking and influential in its time, is really a piece of crap.
The film is a re-envisioning of Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece The Virgin Spring (1960), which in theory, could be interesting. Maybe that’s the reason that the film resonated so much despite sucking so much. Because the film does suck. It has this horrible soundtrack, by musician David Hess, singing of frilly soft rock ballads about love and peace and crap. And the soundtrack is interjected in all these various situations, sort of implying rather than shock and horror, some sort of peaceful continuum of life or something. Even when you’re raping, torturing, and murdering two young girls.
Beyond the soundtrack, Craven interjects lame humor in the police, who are dumb and run out of gas (why they don’t come to the scene until it’s pretty much all over). Mixed with the scenes of familial bliss, countered with the abduction and capture of the two girls. While I think the intention is to show the contrasts, to build the power of the pay-off, of the family avenging their daughter, it denudes the film of tension, and Craven is no Bergman, I’ll tell you that.
Actually, this movie is garbage. There are a couple of characters that are better than others. Jeramie Rain, as Sadie, the pan-sexual torturer is more interesting than her male companions. I mean, you know that it’s a low budget shocker film, and there is a lot you can accept, but the bottom line, I don’t think there is anything in this film that warrants recognition, except perhaps the horrible music that is so inaptly played throughout. I mean, the ending, a guy gets killed with a chainsaw. There is now power or menace or pathos. It just happens.
Anyway, I rented this film because I didn’t think I’d seen it before and was interested in seeing the sequel. While it’s easy to believe that the sequel would be better by comparison, I have lost interest in it. These re-makes of horror films, I’ll watch them, but they tend to be very shallow, lacking any genuine shock value.