Director Wes Craven went down in cinematic history for his iconic career in the horror film industry. Craven is behind such famous franchises as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, which of course brought the unforgettable characters of Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees to movie-goers worldwide. This was not, however, the reaction upon the release of a much earlier and grittier horror film Craven got behind in the early ’70s. The Last House on the Left was released on August 30, 1972. It was one of Craven’s first pairings with horror producer Sean S. Cunningham, and serves as a staple of cult horror films typical of the era. The film’s harshly realistic and graphic subject matter surrounds a pair of teenage girls who are abducted by a gang of escaped convicts and are subjected to rape, disembowelment, castration, and much more.
Like other horror films of the era, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Craven and company used a group of no-name actors under a very low budget, resulting in a lower, yet somehow more believable production that resonated with audiences. Despite a mostly negative reception, the film did receive some nods from critics like Roger Ebert, who praised Craven’s directorial approach. The graphic nature of the film caused it to be banned in Britain for years, and other credible sources like the New York Times slammed the film as too graphic. Nevertheless The Last House on the Left went on to gross approximately 10,000,000 worldwide in 1972. Craven and Cunningham co-produced a modern update in 2009, featuring more graphic and visual affects. The reception for the remake was also mixed: Craven and Cunningham had attempted to appease their critics who complained of low production value, but fans of the original were not too keen on seeing a new version released with more recognizable actors. Either way, The Last House on the Left stands as an American horror classic that will continue to be watched by fans and horror fanatics alike. Check out the original trailer here on MADE, and if you like, check out both versions of the film and see which one you prefer. Cheers!