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The Last House on the Left [Blu-ray]
(Wes Craven, 1972)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Lobster Enterprises
Video:MGM / Arrow (3-Disc) Limited Edition
Region: FREE! / FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Unrated: 1:24:12.464 / R-Rated: 1:21:52.782 / Krug and Co.: 1:23:50.233
Disc Size: 34,666,297,717 bytes
BD 1 (Unrated) - 48,277,911,815 bytes
BD 2 (R-rated and Krug and Co. Cuts - 48,454,956,295 bytes
Feature Size: 26,768,535,552 bytes
Unrated- 28,655,496,576 bytes
R-Rated - 20,806,131,072 bytes
Krug and Co. - 21,303,524,736 bytes
Video Bitrate: 18.10 Mbps / 37.97 Mbps / 30.00 Mbps (both R-Rated and Krug and Co. cuts)
Chapters: 16 / 12 (all three cuts)
Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Custom case (see below)
Release date: September 13th, 2011 / July 3rd US - June 18th in the UK
Video (all cuts):
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1108 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1108
kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
R-Rated + Krug and Co. cuts:
Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), French, Spanish, none
English (SDH), none
• Audio Commentary by Director Wes Craven and Producer Sean
Brand new audio commentary with Bill Ackerman
and Amanda Reyes
Package Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Description: Future Nightmare creator and Scream weaver Wes Craven's film debut is a primitive little production that rises above its cut-rate production values and hazy, grainy patina via its grimly affecting portrait of human evil infiltrating a middle-class household. The story is adapted from Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, but the film has more in common with Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs as it charts the descent of a harmless married couple into methodical killers. A quartet of criminals--a distorted version of the nuclear family--kidnaps a pair of teenage girls and proceeds to ravage, rape, torture, and finally brutally murder them in the woods, unwittingly within walking distance of their rural home. The killers take refuge in the girls' own home, but when the parents discover just who they are and what they've done, they plot violent retribution. Along with George Romero's Night of the Living Dead and Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Craven helped redefine American horror with this debut--all three movies portray modern society crumbling into madness and horror. But, unlike his fellow directors, Craven gives his film an uncomfortable verisimilitude, setting it squarely in the heartland of modern America. While at times it's awkward and inconsistent, with distracting comic interludes, his handling of the brutal horror scenes is unsettling, and the death of the daughter is an unexpectedly quiet and lyrical moment. --Sean Axmaker
The howling and snorting about Last House's moral vacuum ring nonsensical to me: here is a film in which the two lengthy setpieces of beastly behavior are followed by sickened quietude. I think that's what gets to people; if the film were less artful, less serious about its purpose, it could easily be brushed off as another 42nd-Street revengesploitation flick. Still, in 1972 people were awfully bothered about the increased violence of movies as a result of the (then) more lenient R rating -- Clockwork Orange, Straw Dogs, Dirty Harry, Polanski's scarifying Macbeth: one film after another was reflecting the nation's soul-sickness knee-deep in Vietnam. Last House, with no stars and no name director, was the easiest target of the bunch. Of the major workaday critics, Gene Siskel excoriated it, while Roger Ebert awarded it three and a half stars (a case could be made that Ebert's influential rave greatly helped not only Craven's career but also that of producer Sean Cunningham, who went on to direct Friday the 13th, an irony Ebert couldn't be expected to enjoy). It became one of the banned "Video Nasties" in Britain, where it stirs up trouble to this day. Exhibitors would routinely recut prints of the film to their liking.Excerpt from Rob Gonsalves at eFilmcritic located HERE
LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is a tough, bitter little sleeper of a movie that's about four times as good as you'd expect. There is a moment of such sheer and unexpected terror that it beats anything in the heart-in-the-mouth line since Alan Arkin jumped out of the darkness at Audrey Hepburn in WAIT UNTIL DARK.Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left probably isn't going to look much better than MGM's dual-layered Blu-ray which sports a very high bitrate. The image is rich with grain and colors are deep and intense. There is a smattering of damage but mostly quite clean. This was shot with Super 16 in an intended ratio of 1.85:1. This mass of moving textures during the 1080P presentation is the way this is meant to look - with no aggressive manipulations to alter the visuals. This is as rough-and-ready look as you are likely to get and it belies the production roots with caustic authenticity. Contrast exhibits strong black levels and the overall image is impressive as a representation of its origins.
The film has been newly restored in 2k from original film elements, Arrow Video give us the option of 3 cuts of the film. They are all presented in 1080p at an impressive bitrate (a maxed out 37.97Mbps for the "Unrated Cut", and a very high 30.01 Mbps for the other two cuts). The first disc has the "Unrated cut" (1:24:12) whereas the second disc has both the "Krug and Co. Cut" (1:23:50) and the "R-Rated Cut" (1:21:52). They all seem to have been taken from the same source as they all almost exactly the same image quality. Though certain scenes that were added back into the film can look slightly rougher, its hardly a distraction. Arrow's transfer looks better than MGM's in a few regards. Detail is slightly better, though this may be the best it will ever look given the picture was filmed on Super 16mm. Contrast looks good, with deeper blacks, and better colors (cooler flesh tones) than the MGM.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio strives for an authentic replication of the original production, as well, with a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1108 kbps. The scattered dialogue is inherent and we can only expect the soundstage to be as faithful as possible - including David Hess' score. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
We are presented the film with the original uncompressed linear PCM mono. This 1.0 (24-bit) mono track maintains the films odd music without drowning out the dialogue. Levels are nice and I appreciate that nobody tried to separate the sounds into a 5.1 channel surround, for this would almost surely wreck the effect that the original mono track has. David Hess' score (also available as an isolated option on the Unrated BD) is here in all its WTF glory, and certain effects are clearly audible as well. One should keep in mind though that this was a very low-budget endeavor and the auditory harshness and mudiness of certain scenes only adds to the general feeling of uneasiness in the film. The optional isolated score track is presented in 2.0 channel linear PCM and it sounds great, having just been restored and cleaned up. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on Arrow's Region FREE Blu-rays.
The Blu-ray ports over everything from the previous DVD including the two audio commentaries and Blue Underground's excellent Celluloid Crime of the Century 40-minute documentary. Everything is in 480i but no fan could lament on there being an omission with deleted scenes, outtakes, forbidden footage and even 'never before seen footage'. Truly these supplements represent a complete appreciation of Craven's debut film.
Woah. There certainly are quite a few extras here, spread across 2 Blu-rays. Let's start with the newest stuff, including a wonderful commentary with Bill Ackerman and Amanda Reyes on the Unrated Cut (first disc.) The two have a vast wealth of knowledge on this film, and film in general. The information comes fast and rarely slows down, resulting in a track that is a great listen for fans of the film. Also available here are 2 previously available commentaries, one with writer/director Wes Craven and producer Sean S. Cunningham, and one with stars David Hess, Marc Sheffler and Fred Lincoln. Also here is the choice of watching the film with an isolated score, one that has been newly remastered from the original 17.5" magnetic tracks. This is a welcome feature for a film that has one of the strangest scores in film history, and the music sounds great here. Next up is another new extra, "Junior's Story". Running about 14-minutes,it is an interview with actor Marc Sheffler about his work on the film. Speaking of Junior, on the second Blu-ray we get the feature, "Marc Sheffler Q&A", this 12-minute interview is from a 2017 screening of the film at The American Cinematheque. There is another brand new interview with makeup artist Anne Paul, running about 14-minutes as well, this extra is entitled, "Blood and Guts". "The Road Leads to Terror" is a brand new featurette revisiting the film's original shooting locations, running about 6-minutes. Not to be missed is "Extended Outtakes and Dailies" a 48-minute extra featuring tons of footage that has been newly transferred in HD. "The Craven Touch" is a brand new 17-minute featurette bringing together interviews with a number of Wes Craven's collaborators including Sean S. Cunningham, composer Charles Bernstein, producer Peter Locke, cinematographer Mark Irwin and actress Amanda Wyss. "Early Days and Night of Vengeance" is a 9-minute extra with filmmaker Roy Frumkes remembering Wes Craven and "Last House...". "Krug Conquers England" is a 24-minute archival featurette charting the theatrical tour of the first ever uncut screening of the film in the UK. "Songs in the Key of Krug" is a 10-minute interview with actor David Hess. This is an interesting extra, for example who would've ever guessed Hess' acting icon was John Garfield. Also of note is Hess explaining why he made the soundtrack so incongruous with the images on the screen. Also previously available is "Tales That'll Tear Your Heart Out", an 11-minute unfinished short film by Wes Craven. Many more previously available featurettes are also included here including; the 15-minute "Still Standing: The Legacy of The Last House on the Left", an interview with Wes Craven, the 40-minute "Celluloid Crime of the Century" - a documentary featuring interviews with Wes Craven, Sean S. Cunningham, actors David Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Marc Sheffler and Martin Kove, and the 29-minute "It's Only a Movie: The Making of Last House in the Left". We also get "Forbidden Footage" which has the cast and crew discussing the film's most controversial sequences. There is also the 10-minute "Scoring Last House", an archival interview with actor/composer David Hess. Arrow also give us a deleted scene, "Mari Dying at the Lake" which is what it sounds like. Included here as well is an archival 40-second introduction to the film by Wes Craven. There are some trailers (yes, that trailer), TV, and radio spots and image galleries. Also included in the package are 6 collector's postcards and a double-sided fold-out poster. There is a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork. Inside is a limited edition 60-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing on the film by author Stephen Thrower. Finally we get a third disc, a CD soundtrack housing the film's complete newly remastered score over 20-tracks.
MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray
To avoid fainting, keep repeating, its only a Blu-ray, its only a Blu-ray. The Last House on the Left has quite a strange appeal. Wes Craven's first foray into feature-filmmaking is an interesting take on Bergman's The Virgin Spring, which is itself an interpretation of the medieval Swedish ballad, "Töres döttrar i Wänge". Originally titled "Night of Vengeance", the film is quite brutal in its depiction of rape and violence and yet Craven also constantly avoids glorifying such moments. The soundtrack creates a dissonance that only increases the eerie quality of the film. You can see lots of Craven's future work reflected here, with his constant interest in the nuclear family's survival amidst chaos, and an ending that mirrors the 'Home-Alone'-esque booby-trapped-house denouement of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "The Hills Have Eyes" (Of course, Craven would eventually flip the script, having the 'Rube Goldberg-as-Deus Ex Machina' literally become a house, with a perverse nuclear family inside its walls, in his underappreciated classic, "People Under the Stairs"). Having this new 2k transfer of Craven's first film, and an isolated score soundtrack (and a billion other extras) only solidifies this as the ultimate release of this film. I highly recommend this newly restored 2k Blu-ray set, with CD, from Arrow!
September 10th, 2011
June 23rd, 2018