Wes Craven is most famous, and deservedly so, as the creator of razor-fingered ghost Freddy Krueger. (We tend to forget that Freddy is a ghost, don’t we? He’s so iconic as a slasher. But he is the ghost of a justifiably murdered serial killer who haunts, and kills, people in their dreams. He’s non-corporeal.) But long before Freddy, Craven unleashed on the world THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Shocking for its unflinching depiction of violence, it was initially conceived of by Craven as a hardcore porno flick with gallons of blood. True story. Craven felt that Hollywood tended to glamorize violence, and for a country just coming out of Vietnam, he felt this wasn’t proper. He wanted to show realistic violence. Ugly, disgusting, the exact opposite of glamorous. He succeeded. Boy, did he. (As for why it was originally supposed to be a porno, that’s because those were the only types of films Craven had done up unto that point. THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT marks Craven’s first *real* movie, but before it he had done lots of skin flicks, all under assumed names.)
I can’t say that THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is a *good* movie. It isn’t. But I think it’s an *important* movie. Does that make sense?
This past weekend I watched the 2009 remake. It’s in every way a superior film. More polished, with far superior acting, and more realistic. And it’s filmed as tastefully as possible for a movie dealing with such subject matter. It’s the better movie, yet it lacks that hard to define quality of the original. The rawness, the realism, the seedy, violent, uncompromising vision of a filmmaker with an axe to grind.
By the way, you do know that Freddy Krueger was named after Krug Stillo, the killer in THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, right?