The Road Leads to Nowhere
The blogs have been all a buzz about the remake of Wes Craven's infamously brutal, The Last House on the Left.
To be sure, movie theaters, of late, have been lousy with remakes of horror films, and it does not appear that there is any end in sight.
I usually avoid the remakes, or wait until they show up on DVD and give them a cursory glance, because I am one of those people who does not believe in reinventing the wheel. I have yet to see a current remake that has improved upon the original (and that goes for an older remake like John Carpenter's version of The Thing - I still think Howard Hawks' version is the best).
But that's not the reason why I am going to avoid the latest version of The Last House on the Left.
The first time I saw the original, was at a drive-in back in the summer of 1978. The movie was already six years old, and already legendary, and I, for one, could not wait to see it.
I had no idea what I was in for.
I'm sure that most know the plot; two young women go to the city to see a concert, and on the way try to score some dope from an odd, but seemingly harmless young man who in turn brings the young women to his New York City hovel and introduces them to his "family", a group of depraved freaks who eventually rape and kill both of the women. Eventually the killers end up at the home of one of the women, and when the parent's discover what they did, they extract revenge upon their Manson-like guests.
All of this is based on Bergman's Virgin Spring; (which was based on a medieval balled called, Töres dotter i Wänge) so, in a way, the original The Last on the Left was a remake of a remake.
Be that as it may, as the film played out, I found my self nauseated by what I saw. The utter depravity that was portrayed pretty much turned my stomach. Watching a group of scumbags carve their names on to a girl's chest, or make another urinate in her pants, and of course the rape scenes ... I was dumbfounded and sickened. Honestly, were I not with a group of my friends, and a victim of teen peer pressure, I might have just started my car and left.
By the end of the film, I found myself cheering the parent's vengeance - I especially liked the mother and her unique way of extracting revenge via bloody fellatio. I did not know what catharsis meant at the time, but that did not mean that I was not experiencing it. And yet, when it was all over, I felt dirty, like I needed a shower.
Over time, I pretty much put Last House ... out of my mind. That was until about a year ago, when I saw it again via Netflix.
I wondered if it would prove to still be a harrowing ordeal, or was my memory just making it all seem worse than what it was.
I made it up to the first rape scene, and once more, I found myself sickened.
I opted to not watch the rest of the film; once had been enough.
While I don't consider myself a prude, watching torture and rape presented as realistically as it was in Last House... is not my idea of entertainment. Of course, with films like Saw and Hostel (and the sequels to said films raking in the bucks), I must be in the minority. That's not to say that I am putting Craven in the same league as hacks like Eli Roth or James Wan, no, I think that Craven might have been actually trying to create something unique with his film...and if nothing else, he did manage to cobble together a movie that was so controversial , people would be discussing it thirty some odd years later.
But for me, I don't need to see a remake, or a reboot, or a re-imagining, or whatever the hell they're calling it. Life is harsh enough with its Darfurs, Neo Nazi's, gun violence, hateful rhetoric and wars. I don't need to watch a woman being disemboweled to understand what a sick, sad world I live in. Not at all.
The horror films that I enjoy are those that employ elements of the supernatural, or the unexpected ... and yes, the occasional slasher film. But let's get real, no one in his right mind believes in Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. They are nothing more than cartoonish bogey men meant to give us a good scare; and I love a good scare as much as the next guy, but don't serve me up a cinematic plate of violent depravity and expect me to gush over how wonderful it is - that's just not going to happen.
So, I will be passing on the remake of Last House ... been there, done that; it's a road that leads to nowhere.