March 13th, 2009

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009) ***

Master of horror Wes Craven is steadily going through his entire oeuvre and producing (fairly decent) remakes of his past films with edgy European filmmakers at the helm.  First there was The Hills Have Eyes, then The Hills Have Eyes 2, and now we get a remake of Craven’s immortal Last House on the Left from director Dennis Iliadis.  (Expect Craven to return with remakes of Shocker and The People Under the Stairs some time soon.)  I don’t think that this flick is as good as either of the Hills remakes, but you know what though folks, I’m going to give it a Mulligan since the original Last House was itself a remake of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring to begin with.

 

The basic formula is the same.  Two girls get raped and stabbed by a vicious maniac named Krug (Garrett Dillahunt) and his crew of psychos.  After murdering one girl and leaving the other for dead, the killers seek refuge in the house of the poor girl’s parents (Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter).  When the folks find out what the killers did to their girl, they pull out all the stops to get some good old-fashioned revenge.

 

Some changes have been made from Craven’s flick.  In this one, the daughter DOESN’T DIE, which gives the parents’ vengeance a little stronger kick because they are more or less avenging an assault on their daughter instead of her death.  (They don’t even ask what happened to the other girl, but oh well.)  This is actually a lot closer to Bergman’s film, except nobody speaks Swedish in this one.  The couple also has an additional back story about having a son that died the year before too.  By having the daughter be merely wounded; it gives them an incentive to save her for fear of losing another child.

 

While these changes are fine by me, unfortunately the flick has been heavily sanitized from its original incarnation and features none of the squirm-in-your-seat moments that made the first film one of the greatest horror classics of all time.  Yes, Craven’s gut-wrenching classic has been watered down and glossed over for mainstream consumption, but think of it this way:  A few glasses of straight Scotch will get you fucked up fast.  A few glasses of Scotch and water will leave you pleasantly buzzed.  If you want to get fucked up, watch the original.  If you want a nice buzz that won’t leave you with a lingering hangover, check out this flick.  

 

Sure, this version of Last House is missing David Hess (Seriously, how could you top Hess’ performance?), the infamous “Piss yourself!” scene, Krug carving his name into his victim’s chest, the chisel dream sequence, the chainsaw, and the chomped off penis.  What it does have though is a hand in the garbage disposal, a claw hammer to the back of the head, and some pretty gnarly moments of impromptu surgery.   

 

And folks, it has the MICROWAVE.  Trust me, when everybody comes out of the theater, they won’t be talking about the performances, the rape scene, or the chick who gets shot in the eyeball.  They will be talking about the microwave.  Did you ever leave lasagna in the microwave for too long?  You know what happens, right?  KA-BLOOEY!  Yeah, now imagine it’s somebody’s head.  All I’m going to say is, too bad it wasn’t in 3-D.

 

Is the new Last House a pimple on the ass of the original 1972 classic?  Hell no!  Is it a better than average revenge flick?  You betcha.  For anyone who bitches incessantly about how Craven lost his balls on this one needs to follow this advice:  “Keep Repeating:  It’s Only a Remake… It’s Only a Remake… It’s Only a Remake.”

 

The Video Vacuum Salutes The Last House on the Left for being The Best Horror Remake of the Past 8 Weeks.