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Film / The Last House on the Left

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"To avoid fainting, keep repeating: IT'S ONLY A MOVIE... ONLY A MOVIE... ONLY A MOVIE..."

Wes Craven's 1972 debut picture, a loose reworking of Ingmar Bergman's Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring), tells the story of a group of psychopathic escaped convicts who kidnap, torture, humiliate, rape, and try to murder two teenage girls and then end up asking for refuge at (unbeknown to them) the home of the parents of one of the girls. This couple then find out who their guests really are...

Remade in 2009 by Dennis Iliadis, produced by Craven and starring Sara Paxton, Garrett Dillahunt, Monica Potter, Aaron Paul, Tony Goldwyn, and Riki Lindhome.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Krug got his own son addicted to heroin to better control him.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Collingwoods have Krug Stillo, the gang leader who raped and murdered their daughter and her best friend.
  • Art Imitates Art: John Everett Millais's painting Ophelia inspired Mari's death scene in the lake.
  • Ax-Crazy: The three villains, but special mention goes to Krug.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Collingwoods look like two ordinary, happily married people, until their daughter gets killed...
  • Big Bad: Krug Stillo, leader of the gang of rapists.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: Estelle slashes Sadie's throat while the latter is in a swimming pool.
  • Bound and Gagged: Mari and Phyllis as part of their humiliation.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Done deliberately to Phyllis about half an hour into the movie, in one of its more infamous moments.
  • Chainsaw Good: Mr. Cunningham decides to not half-ass it with his vengeance at the climax and tears Krug apart with a saw. After a whole film of being a belligerent psycho, Krug finally enters pants-wetting terror.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The necklace Mari gets as a birthday gift is instrumental in making Emma realize what happened to Mari.
  • Covers Always Lie: Look at the DVD cover. See that house there? That's not the house. The jury's out on whether it's even on the left.
    • The poster for the original film also lies. The girl shown leaning against the tree is Phyllis, not Mari.
  • Creator Cameo: Production assistant Steve Miner appears as a hippie taunting the bumbling cops.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Sadie does part of the raping, and is Krug's lover.
  • Dirty Coward: In the end Krug appears to be this once he realizes that he is truly screwed and that old man Collingwood is gonna take him apart with that chainsaw, and suddenly all his macho psycho b.s. goes right out the window.
  • Dirty Old Man: The elderly mailman at the beginning of the film describes Mari as "the prettiest piece I've ever seen".
  • Driven to Suicide: Junior blows his brains out, as commanded by Krug.
  • Downer Ending: Mari, Phyllis, and Junior are dead, and even though Mari's parents have vindicated them, they're most likely going to prison due to the stupid sheriff.
    • That's a maybe. The sheriff found out about Mari being kidnapped prior so he might be convinced otherwise. They may still head for jail though, if Brad Pitt showed us anything.
  • Evil Is Petty: Krug and his gang, without exception.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Inverted with Sadie. She's the lone female of the criminal gang, but she's just as evil and sadistic as the guys, and there's no indication that she's been coerced into her lifestyle by them.
  • Flipping the Bird: Walking back to town after their car runs out of gas, the cops think they've gotten a lift when a van full of hippies stop for them... then they do this while peeling away.
  • Genre Refugee: The worthless, dim-witted cops are out of a comedy film and their antics create some hard-core Mood Dissonance as a result.

  • Groin Attack: Estelle dupes Weasel and starts performing oral sex on him... with gruesome results.
  • Gorn: Phyllis's fate.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We are spared the sight of Krug carving his name in Mari's chest. Also, we don't see Weasel's emasculation.
  • Hate Sink: Krug Stillo is a prisoner on the run, having been freed by his son, whom he deliberately got addicted to drugs to control him. After he encounters two girls, he leads some fellow escapees in raping and torturing them before murdering one of them. When he learns that the parents of one of his victims are coming for revenge and his son helped them out of guilt, he orders the kid to kill himself.
  • Heel Realization: Junior has one, and tries to help Mr. Collingwood when Krug is trying to kill the latter. While it distracts Krug, it still isn't enough to get rid of the psychological hold Krug has on him and Krug forces him to blow his own brains out.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mari has one, after having been humiliated, abused, kidnapped, and raped, and before being murdered.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Krug seems briefly horrified and disgusted with himself for his murder of Mari. He then murders her and goes on about his merry way absolutely no different than before.
  • Ignored Vital News Reports: Mari and Phyllis hear a radio report about the psychos' escape from prison while driving to the city, but pay it no mind.
  • Kick the Dog: Krug breaks a little kid's balloon with a lit cigarette just for the hell of it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The fate of Krug and his worthless band of sadists probably count.
  • The Last Title: The title.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The Baddies' Song, disturbingly so.
  • Mama Bear: Estelle Collingwood. She quite willingly helps tear the people that killed her daughter apart.
  • Monster Misogyny: Though the villains stumbled upon Mari and her friend, they're quite excited about having them around considering all the "fun" they can have with them, with Weasel wasting no time getting around to raping Phyllis. In the remake, Krug makes note of how innocent and beautiful the two girls are, explaining that he'd "hate for anything to happen to them". Considering what does happen to them later, it sure sounds like Krug is invoking the trope.
    • It's also arguable that this trope is what sells the movie's shock value. It's not just a movie about Torture Porn, it's a movie about Torture Porn committed on two innocent women.
  • Mood Dissonance: Although this is a horror movie, there are some scenes that seem to be right out of a comedy. The chicken truck and Krug going "Moo!" come to mind.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film is notorious for its use of this trope. The sheriff and his deputy may as well be from a completely different movie (even the music is different), and their scenes have a tendency to blow a hole through any tension the film built up before they appeared.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Krug and company look guilty when Mari walks in shock towards the lake. Krug briefly look genuinely repulsed at himself and ashamed. To say it doesn't last is an understatement.
  • Nightmare Sequence: At one point Fred dreams that Mari's parents knock his front teeth out with a hammer and chisel. Still would've been better than what actually does happen to him.
  • Oh, Crap!: Krug when he realizes that he's lost.
  • Papa Wolf: John Collinwood. The man willingly annihilates the people that killed his daughter, including carving the leader of the band, Krug, with a chainsaw.
  • The Place: The Last House on the Left.
  • Police Are Useless: The sheriff and his deputy are incompetent buffoons. They even buy into Krug's half-assed alibi about being a passing preacher. And when they hear of Mari's kidnapping, they not only find out where she is located, but also that they were there a few minutes ago. Oh, and they were late to the Roaring Rampage of Revenge Party. Though to be fair, they did try to help. It was just that they were held back by several things when they did go to help.
  • Rape as Drama: Almost all of the drama in this movie consists of two girls being tortured and raped.
  • Re-Cut: Cinema owners and projectionists would sometimes make their own cuts to the finished movie. There's also some debate on what the "true" uncut version of this film really is. The film supposedly ran 91-minutes uncut for a short while before Craven grew uneasy over the content and trimmed it down to 81 minutes. Three additional minutes were restored in the 80s for a reissue, and this is the "uncut" version usually released today. The supposed 91-minute version is the stuff of fan legend, and some don't believe it ever existed, and that the 84-minute cut was the complete version all along. Some believe that a 91-minute version once existed, but that the remaining cut footage is lost. Others believe that it does exist, but that the rights-holder (MGM) simply won't let the footage be restored. There's also an early work-print edit titled "Krug & Co." that's similar to the 84-minute version, but with a few different takes, choppier editing, and a completely different scene of the parents finding Mari (she's alive, and describes her attackers before dying).
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Once the Collingwoods discover that their daughter is dead and the people who did it are in their home, they go to full grindhouse levels of gory retribution.
  • Sadist: Krug Stillo, who rapes and tortures women for fun and got his son addicted to drugs to maintain control over him.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Subverted as the chicken farmer's cheeky attitude towards the frantic cops helps get Mari and Phyllis killed.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The soundtrack is mostly made of upbeat ballads or outright cheery music.
    • Interesting note: It was all composed (and sung) by none other than David Hess, the actor who played Krug Stillo.
  • Survival Mantra: Not in the movie itself, but the film poster suggests that if viewers find the movie too scary, they should keep repeating to themselves, "It's only a movie...only a movie...only a movie..."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ah, man, we raped and murdered these people's daughter, and they don't even know! Wow, now the mom's giving me a BJ! This is the best road trip ever!
  • Tuckerization: Mari's last name Collingwood comes from Wes Craven's high school.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Krug begins to slowly panic when it becomes clear he's screwed. His machismo and arrogance drain out of him to give way to sheer, understated terror to the point he's all but begging John to just get it over with.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Obviously, and applied with reckless abandon, just to show how depraved the villains really are.

The 2009 remake has examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Estelle is changed to Emma, Phyllis is changed to Paige, Junior is changed to Justin, and Weasel is changed to Francis.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Justin (Junior in the original) deliberately leaves Mari's necklace out in the open after realizing whose house they're in.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Sadie clearly seems to get off on what they do to the two girls, and it's she who strips Paige. This would of course make her a Depraved Bisexual.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Microwave ovens do NOT work like that. First, for safety reasons they are designed to remain deactivated while the oven door is open. There are ways to bypass such safety measures, but while the experience of having your head microwaved would be tremendously painful and result in death, your head wouldn't explode. At most your eyes would rupture since they are basically fleshy bags of water, but that's it.
  • Blatant Lies: "You'll be fine," as John leaves Krug with his head in the microwave.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The necklace that Mari finds at her vacation home as a gift from her dead brother is instrumental in making Emma realize what happened to Mari.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Mari being a champion swimmer is what allows her to swim far enough that the bullet wound isn't fatal, and to make it to the safety of her house.
  • Domestic Appliance Disaster: Invoked and Played for Horror: Krug gets killed by Mr. Collingwood by ramming his head through the door of a microwave oven and putting it to max power. Krug's head explodes.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Although the original is undeniably lurid if when watching the rape scene in the remake you find anything remotely erotic about what's happening to Mari there is probably something wrong with you.
    • Sadie is topless for the scene where the Collingwoods take their revenge.
  • Fingore: Francis (originally named Weasel) gets, in a very horrific scene, his fingers shredded in a garbage disposal.
  • Gorn: Francis's death is especially gory, involving his fingers shredded in the garbage disposal and getting hit over the head with a hammer.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Blonde Mari is shyer and more responsible, brunette Paige is more outgoing.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Justin completes his when he sees John coming into the room where Krug and Sadie are sleeping, and offers him the gun to take his revenge. He then helps John take out Sadie.
  • Heel Realization: Junior has one. There's more justification in contrast to the original due to the fact that it was his fault the girls were kidnapped.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Mari's eyes are blue, and they're used to show her as an innocent victim. There are a lot of close-ups of her eyes right before Paige is killed.
  • Karmic Death: All of Krug's gang is explicitly killed off in this take of the film.
  • The Last Title: The title.
  • Mama Bear: Emma Collinwood, who is very eager to murder the people that raped and nearly killed her daughter.
  • Moe Greene Special: Sadie is killed when Emma shoots her through her right eye.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Francis has one when he sees a still alive Mari wrapped up in a blanket after her parents treated her gunshot wound. Mere seconds later, Emma attacks.
    • Krug has one when he discovers the carnage in the house, realising the Collingwoods have already dealt with Francis.
  • Papa Wolf: John Collinwood. He fries the head of the leader of the band that hurt his daughter.
  • Shameful Strip: Sadie rips Paige's top off just For the Evulz.
  • Shirtless Scene: Krug is shirtless for the last act of the film, and the camera lets you see plenty.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: After Krug realizes just who the Collingwoods are, he tries taunting John about what he did to Mari. John ain’t having any of it, though.
    Krug: Do you want to hear what I did to Mari? I bet you do. Pervert. You want to hear how tight your little homecoming queen was?
    John: No. I want to hear you beg for your fucking life.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The remake left Mari and Justin (named Junior in the original) alive after Justin did a Heel–Face Turn (the movie also made it pretty clear that nothing that happened was his fault). In the original, Mari died, and Junior committed suicide.
  • Torture Porn: In this case, it's the villains whose torture is more drawn out. Paige gets a relatively tame death - being stabbed only in the stomach, and Mari actually survives altogether. However, the murders of the three villains are very gratuitously violent and shot in a way that the viewer is meant to enjoy.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Krug and Francis hit Paige and Mari several times just to show how nasty they are.
    • No Designated Girl Fight here! John goes after Sadie and has no problems punching her. The fact that she tried to murder his daughter and is hitting back probably helps. Justin likewise tries to help by tackling her in the bathtub.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Krug's fate. It's caused by putting it in a microwave of all things.