The Last House On The Left
"Horrible, and uneven, and raggedy, and disreputable - and very, very important" - Mark Kermode, BBC Radio 5 Live
An iconic moment in horror, Wes Craven's The Last House On The Left (alternatively [[Last House On The Left, but see Hatchet Job for a full explanation) is the story of two girls who are raped and murdered, and the fate that awaits their killers, who find themselves trapped in the house of the parents of one of the girls.
The film was based on two things - Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring and footage of troops in the Vietnam war. While it was undoubtedly about making money - and begun filming as an exploitation movie - it evolved during production into something more than that: dirty, nasty, and grotesque, yes, but also an examination on how violence begets violence. Indeed, Craven walked out of Reservoir Dogs at the Sitges Film Festival in 1991, and when Quentin Tarantino said "I can't believe the man who made The Last House On The Left walked out of my movie", Craven said it was because the violence in his movie was about something - the way images violence were being sold around the around - whereas the violence in the Tarantino film was just there for the sake of it.
Nowadays Mark Kermode is very appreciative of the BBFC, but one of his most repeated anecdotes is the one in which he wrote an academic defence for The Last House On The Left when the distributor wanted to release it uncut in the UK. The BBFC had previously cut 16 seconds from the film, but when Mark came to its defence the BBFC, under the guidance of Biddy Baxter, doubled the cuts to 32 seconds.
The film was remade in 2009 (as definitively The Last House On The Left). Mark felt that it was actually both better directed and better shot than the original; it ironed out some of the plot problems; it even was less obnoxious in one key sequence. It also took out the slapstick bits with the overloaded truck and the chickens. However, it did not answer the question of why a remake was needed, and actually it became apparent that removing all the rough edges did not leave anything particularly interesting. Also, it featured a distinctively unpleasant head / microwave interface. Nevertheless, the remake wasn't actually quite terrible enough for Mark to get overly upset about.