In 1972, a young director named Wes Craven and a young producer Sean S. Cunningham produced a violent and twisted crime drama that went on to become the grandfather of the slasher horror movie genre. LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was a very twisted tale of two young women brutally abducted, abused and murdered by a gang of psychotic hoodlums and thugs, and was such a disturbing tale of gore that theatre patrons were actually throwing up in the few movie theatres that this cheaply made violence-trash film ever played. And both Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham joked that they were two young pot-smoking kids, stoned much of the time while they filmed this outrageous and vile little low budget crime film. It was also reportedly only the second time in film history that a chainsaw was used in scenes of film violence as well, and helped to clear the path for a whole generation of slasher chainsaw horror violence films as well.
Even the title, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, was a later choice as earlier titles for the film only meant empty movie theatres and little interest. However, the vague LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT title seemed to stoke curiosity in the film, and only helped to cement the future career of Wes Craven as a premiere horror film director with later successful films like the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series of Freddy Krugger films.
This Spring, a 2009 remake of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is supposed to hit movie theatres and will likely be nearly as controversial as this original 1972 film was, although it is likely a far more toned-down sense of gratuitous violence than the original film as this film is aiming for a bigger commercial success than the original low budget shocker. But indeed, as the parents of the missing daughter find out that their house-guests whose car has broken down have been involved in her disappearance and murder, then it still sets up a perverse justification for their violent actions against these criminal thugs.
Reportedly both Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham are both on-board as being involved in the production of this new remake. And likely this outrageous violent crime drama that inspired so many future horror films will be greeted with affection from horror movie fans and disgust from most movie critics much like the original film was.
If anything, it's amazing how two young stoner kids managed to produce a film as well made as LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was for such a tight little budget that involved the unauthorized use some public places or the use of friend's homes as filming sites. And the actors were poorly paid with little experience for the most part as well, yet were all effective in their roles. The original was at least an impressive effort for all of budget constraints involved and the small cash outlay. And some of the crude and outrageous ad-libs by the cast members during the actual filming seem to make the film feel more authentic like some documentary of the commission of a serious crime.
For 2009, the bar has now been raised very high for director Wes Craven. Likely, like most nearly all remakes this new film just won't quite capture whatever magic the first film generated to become the cult classic it was that was so respected by so many who love film. But then again, it's Wes Craven. And Wes Craven seems to always make great entertainment. So by remake standards the film should still be worthy enough.
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