Blu-Ray Review: Last House on the Left (Arrow Video)

Arrow Pulls Out All The Stops For One of Their Most Impressive Releases to Date

by robotGEEK

There's no mistaking Last House on the Left's legacy as one of the most imitated and visceral horror experiences of all time. The film, especially at the time, was a tour de force of Grindhouse filmmaking that shook you to the core and offered you a completely different angle to the revenge genre that we really hadn't seen before. Sure, if you were to watch it for the very first time today it might come off as amateur and not nearly as gory as you'd expect, but by 1972 standards, it was genre-defining and blindsided an unsuspecting public. Wes Craven's unapologetic view of raw interpersonal violence became a genre-defining classic, paving the way for a new sub-genre in the horror field and countless imitators.

But it wasn't a runaway success initially. Digging through the ample amount of extra features located within this excellent Arrow release, I learned a number of surprising things. Like LHonL went through several name changes while still in theaters because it just wasn't pulling people in. The title that we all know so well now actually came from someone else other than Wes Craven. Or that the film itself came about because local Drive-In theaters actually financed it, as was the case for many low-rent films back in the day so they could throw it in as a second feature after their main attraction.

Regardless, LHotL has remained one of the most legendary horror classics for nearly 50 years and it's status only continues to grow, with the culmination of this incredible new Blu-Ray set courtesy of Arrow Video, which includes not only the film, but 3 different cuts of the film, including the legendary uncut version. You also get a plethora of extras to indulge in, and just speaking from experience, you will need an entire weekend at least to dig through all of it. So let's dig in.

  • Three cuts of the film newly restored in 2K from original film elements
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • 6 x collector's postcards
  • Double-sided fold-out poster
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
  • Limited edition 60-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing on the film by author Stephen Thrower
  • Soundtrack CD

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the Unrated Version
  • Isolated score newly remastered from the original 17.5" magnetic tracks
  • Brand new audio commentary with Bill Ackerman and Amanda Reyes
  • Archival audio commentary with writer/director Wes Craven and producer Sean S. Cunningham
  • Archival audio commentary with stars David Hess, Marc Sheffler and Fred Lincoln
  • Archival introduction to the film by Wes Craven
  • Still Standing: The Legacy of The Last House on the Left - archival interview with Wes Craven
  • Celluloid Crime of the Century - Archival documentary featuring interviews with Wes Craven, Sean S. Cunningham, actors David Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Marc Sheffler and Martin Kove
  • Scoring Last House - archival interview with actor/composer David Hess
  • It's Only a Movie: The Making of Last House in the Left - archival featurette
  • Forbidden Footage - the cast and crew discuss the film's most controversial sequences
  • Junior's Story - a brand new interview with actor Marc Sheffler
  • Blood and Guts- a brand new interview with makeup artist Anne Paul
  • The Road Leads to Terror - a brand new featurette revisiting the film's original shooting locations<
  • Deleted Scene: "Mari Dying at the Lake
  • Extended Outtakes and Dailies, newly transferred in HD
  • Trailers, TV Spot and Radio Spots
  • Image Galleries
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the Krug & Company and R-Rated cuts of the film
  • The Craven Touch - a brand new 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" - filmmaker Roy Frumkes remembers Wes Craven and Last House on the Left
  • Tales That'll Tear Your Heart Out - unfinished short film by Wes Craven
  • Q&A with Marc Sheffler from a 2017 screening of the film at The American Cinematheque
  • Krug Conquers England - archival featurette charting the theatrical tour of the first ever uncut screening of the film in the UK
  • CD featuring the complete, newly remastered film score

One of the most amusing aspects of nearly all the documentaries both new and archival, is the fact that one of the films stars, Fred J. Lincoln, who played Weasle in the film and was actually a porn actor and director in real life, despises this film. Every interview you see him in he blasts the film as garbage and hints not so subtly that he should have gotten a co-directors credit, since he claims that he is responsible for a lot of what happened in front of and behind the camera with things like showing them how to properly wield a chainsaw, effects tricks, camera setups, acting tips and so on. Yet in the same breath, he talks about it's abhorrent and vulgar quality, which I really can't understand since he was such a huge part of this films production. I mean, he was there and saw what they were filming and doing a large part of those moments himself. Lincoln also states that he's been asked for decades to attend conventions and autograph signings, but has always refused. Yet he's agreed to do sit-down interviews several times throughout the years for various releases of this film. So again, I'm a bit confused about why the constant bashing and refusal to participate in promoting it's legacy because of how much he despises it, yet he will do interviews.

Though I'd seen this film maybe once or twice before, having watched it again recently at an adult age, I was able to look at it in a completely different light. I can see now what Wes Craven was trying to accomplish, whereas before I took the whole semi-documentary approach as just being amateurish. And it still comes across as very amateurish to me even today. The editing is pretty all over the place and even though I understand a lot of the style was made up on the spot, it's the type of film that's painfully obvious that it's the director's first film. I understand the documentary-style approach gives it a raw look and feel, but it also works against it in my opinion. But those were my only real gripes because the performances, especially from the menacing David Hess (as the killer's leader), elevate the film significantly. And you have to remember, none of these actors were pro's. This was Hess's first film, and a few of the other's actually came from a porn background, while other's were acting for the very first time. I think one of the most amusing bits of casting was a very young Martin Kove (Rambo: First Blood Part 2, The Karate Kid) as a bumbling deputy.

One of the other elements that I hadn't appreciated before, but was just full-on in love with this time around, and that is the films score and soundtrack, all courtesy of none other than David Hess himself. Hess was a musician before he was an actor, and supplied all of the music found within the film, oftentimes purposely making the music choice for a specific scene juxtapose that very moment to an eerie effect. And guess what??? Arrow has included David Hess's incredible soundtrack and score on a separate disc located within this massively impressive set.

I could go on and on about this release, about all of the things I learned for the very first time, of all the things I re-discovered, about every facet of the production, but in this case, it's probably best you discover them for yourself. The mountain of extra content will make even the most jaded collector happy and it's a blast to dig through.

Last House on the Left is available from any number of online retailers and personally speaking, worth every penny.

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