Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's only a movie.....

Last House on the Left. 1972. Far superior to the recent remake. I love you Stephen King but I am conflicted over your love of the recent remake. Not only did he fawn all over it in Entertainment Weekly, but also in no less of an institution as Fangoria. And I just didn't get it. I wondered if I had seen a different film. King went on and on how "powerful" the remake was. In my humble opinion, it was a soulless, pointless remake that had none of the power of the original. And the ending was so tacked on I wondered if the film makers were drunk while putting it together. It was as crappy as the Friday the 13th remake--and that's crappy.

Of course I may be biased. I love the original. It is one of the first films I can remember seeing. Now I don't know if I should blame my parents or sisters for this, I can't remember the circumstances, but I do know I saw it at an early age. And it didn't "scare" me so much as disturb me. Partly because of the music, which sounded like something out of a "Scooby Doo" cartoon. Thank you, David Hess. Not only did you freak me out by your portrayal of Krug, but your super funky groovy tunes will always have a very disturbing association for me. You and Davy Jones scare the shit out me.

I recently re-watched Last House on the Left. The violence is shocking. The torture is horrible. The revenge is sweet. Much sweeter than the lame ass remake I subjected myself to last year (sorry Mr. King--it sucked.) What struck me about the film watching it as an adult is how damn funny it is. For all the wrong reasons. The "bad guys" are not only child molesters and dog killers, but they also murdered priests and nuns! The parents are upper class twits who have a conversation with their daughter about wearing a bra. Then they give her a "Peace" necklace to wear. The two girls get drunk in the forest and then end up in the city looking to score weed. The cops are complete morons who are only there for (very uncomfortable) comic relief. This is what we are missing in modern torture porn films! Bumbling comic relief!! Where are the Laurel and Hardy of the Saw films? Where was the "Who's on first?" in Martyrs? On second thought, maybe we are better off without it.

A while ago I watched The Virgin Spring, the Ingmar Bergman film on which Wes Craven based Last House on the Left. Both films are very powerful in their own right. If you are ever having a dark and stormy night and want to explore some dark places in the soul, I would highly recommend this as a double feature.
Here is the poem (translated from the original Swedish) that both films are based on. Enjoy!!

Pehr Tyrsson's daughters in Vänge
Their forest was cold
They slept a sleep too long
While the leaves appear on the trees
The youngest one woke up first
Their forest...
And so she woke up the others.
While the leaves...
Then they sat up on their beds.
So they braided each other's locks.
So they put on their silken clothes.
So they went to the church.
But when they came to the pastures of Vänge
They met three herdsmen
- Either you will be the wives of herdsmen
Or would you lose your young lives?
- We do not want to be the wives of herdsmen.
We would rather lose our young lives.
They cut off their heads on a log of birch.
And so three wells appeared.
The bodies were buried in the mud.
The clothes were carried to the village.
When they came to the estate of Vänge,
Lady Karin met them outdoors
-And would you buy silken robes
That nine maidens have knitted and stitched?
Untie your sacks and let me see,
Maybe I will know all three of them
Lady Karin beat herself on the chest,
She went up to Pehr Tyreson
- There are three herdsmen on our courtyard,
They have slain our daughters.
Pehr Tyrsson grasped his sword,
He slew the two eldest ones.
The third one he let live
Until he could ask him:
- What is your father's name?
What is your mother's name?
- Our father is Pehr Tyrsson in Vänge;
Our mother is Lady Karin in Skränge
Per Tyrson goes to the smithy
He had iron crafted around his waist
- What shall we do for our sins?
- We shall build a church of lime and stone.
- The church will be named Kerna
We are fain to build it.

On a non-horror side note, as I am writing this I am listening to Nina Simone. Today is her birthday. Thank you Ms. Simone for making life so much sweeter....


Franco Macabro said...

Nina Simone, her music is very special to me, so heartfelt and true.

As for Last House, this is one of those films where the villains feel real, they didnt feel like actors to me, they felt as if Craven had taken the craziest dirt bags of the street and put them on his movie.

Thats what I liked about this movie, the feeling of uneasiness it caused on me.

Havent seen the remake, but I will now! I had no idea Stephen King liked it so much, I will now have to see how much I agree or disagree with him.

Jen said...

King LOVES it! I can't wait to hear what you think..I didn't think it was "awful" just kind of pointless....