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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Last House on the Left [Blu-ray]


(Wes Craven, 1972)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Lobster Enterprises

Video: MGM



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:24:29.189

Disc Size: 34,666,297,717 bytes

Feature Size: 26,768,535,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.10 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 13th, 2011



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)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -3dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps



English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



• Audio Commentary by Director Wes Craven and Producer Sean Cunningham
Second Audio Commentary with David Hess, Marc Sheffler and Fred Lincoln
Still Standing: The Legacy of The Last House on the Left (14:54 in 480i)
Blue Underground's Celluloid Crime of the Century (39:34 in 480i)
Scoring Last House - interview with David Hess (9:44 in 480i)
Tales That'll Tear Your Heart Out (11:29 in 480i)
Deleted Scene (:59 in 480i)
Never Before Seen Footage (5:36 in 480i)
It's Only a Movie (29:01 in 480i)
Outtakes (14:01 in 480i)
Forbidden Footage (8:12 in 480i)
Theatrical Trailer (2:00 in 480i)





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 Film:

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.

















Audio :

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.



Extras :

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.



Admittedly not to all tastes - Craven's sloppy, hillbilly orgy of gore and crudeness has hidden merits as well. His legion of fans shouldn't hesitate in nabbing this Blu-ray for the most penetratingly pure digital representation likely ever to come along. 

Gary Tooze

September 10th, 2011



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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