The Remake Of “The Last House On The Left” Can Suck My Balls And Die

Other than seeing this putrid waste of film, my only regret is not seeing it during its theatrical release.  This way I could’ve at least warned others sooner of just how bad a horror remake can be.  I mean, I really didn’t dig Rob Zombie’s take on “Halloween”, but this movie takes it to a whole new level.  (Note: The rest of this post is riddled with spoilers of both the original and remake of “Last House,” so if you have any interest in seeing either, please do it before reading the rest of this.)

In case you were unaware, the original “Last House On The Left” was released back in 1972 and was the directorial debut of Mr. Wes Craven.  For it’s time, the film was extremely controversial, as it pre-dated scapegoated films like “Cannibal Holocaust,” “I Spit On Your Grave,” and most notably “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”  The story of two girls abducted, raped, and murdered by a gang of miscreants was not received well by many theater owners, who either banned the film entirely or cut scenes out themselves until they deemed it acceptable for their audiences.  It’s a miracle that a complete version of the film still exists.  To this day, almost 40 years from its debut, there are certain scenes that are genuinely difficult to watch.  Not necessarily because of the gore, but because of the overall sense of reality and seeing just how terrible people can be.

Now for as much as I love the original, I know that it’s not perfect.  Among other things, there are some really awkward attempts at comic relief that don’t fit.  Also, seeing as this was Craven’s first film, he wasn’t able to stifle his compulsion to include booby traps in the last act (also seen in “The Hills Have Eyes” and “A Nightmare On Elm Street”).  However, with “Last House,” Craven pushed boundaries as far as he ever has in his career.   If you’re gonna remake this film in 2009, you can’t puss out.  And that is exactly what this new version did.

Unlike the latest version of “The Hills Have Eyes” (which should serve as a blueprint on how to remake a film), the most recent inception of “The Last House On The Left” did almost everything within its power to avoid controversy and comfortably place itself in multiplexes next to Pixar films.  Here’s a rundown.

The Girls

In the original film:  The girls are put through both physical and psychological torture, forced into embarrassment and violence against each other.  Phyllis is sexually abused and meets her end after being repeatedly stabbed.  Mari is raped (in an extremely disturbing shot which only shows the faces of the victim and her attacker) and shot in the lake, dying shortly after.

In the remake: Phyllis is stabbed three times (one of the only effective uses of gore in the film) and is left to die.  Mari is raped (with mainly wild angle shots used, seemingly distancing the viewer from the reality and brutality of the scene) and is also shot.  Though unlike the original, she lives through the film.

The fact that Mari survives might be the biggest copout of all.  The whole point of the original was to not pull punches and show the dark side of humanity.  Also, killing off Mari halfway through the film, who was the main character up to that point, shocks the audience and makes them realize that anything can happen.  Off hand, I can only think of two other movies that do this (“Psycho” and “Hostel”).

The Gang

In the original film: They are seen as detestable people who maliciously kidnap these two girls to appease their own sadistic tendencies.  The only one with any conscience, Krug’s son, still is directly responsible for abducting the girls and winds up killing himself out of guilt.

In the remake: They are seemingly forced into kidnapping when they arrive at their hotel room to find the girls hanging out with Krug’s son.  The son is seen as an innocent who predictably “goes good” at the end of the film.

By the gang not having a premeditated plan to do what they do in this movie, the feeling of depravity is lost.  In some ways, you could justify the abduction as something they had to do to avoid being caught.

The Parents  & The Gang’s Demise

In the original: When Mari’s parents discover what the gang has done, they do not seek escape or help.  They immediately go for retribution, resulting in grizzly deaths for all of the culprits.  Sadie, the only female in the gang, has her throat slit.  Frank (AKA Weasel) has his penis bitten off by Mari’s mother.  And Krug is hacked with a chainsaw by Mari’s father just has the police arrive.

In the remake: Because Mari survives in this version, the parents find her near lifeless body and first try to get to a hospital.  It is only after realizing a clean getaway is impossible that they take their fitting revenge.

Once again, the new version tones down the brutality and the justification for it.  This caps off with Krug meeting his maker by having his head put in a microwave.  I’m not kidding.  They put his fucking head in a microwave.  This movie is supposed to be based in reality and they put his fucking head in a microwave until it exploded.  Why not just bring in Bruce Campbell with a chainsaw arm to perform the coup de grace?

My biggest beef with this movie is its lack of respect for the original.  It took a great film and just tweaked it until they had 110 minutes of footage that would sell enough tickets to turn a decent profit (which I sadly contributed to).  It would be like if they remade “Rain Man” and Dustin Hoffman’s character just magically stopped being autistic and everyone lived happily ever after.  Seriously, one of the last shots in the film shows the family on their boat heading to a hospital with Krug’s son aboard, almost to infer that the parents are going to take him in.  I can see the conversation now:

MOM SAYS TO MARI:  “Um, Mari.  Remember when that guy raped you and left you for dead and his son just sat there and didn’t help you at all?  Well….Meet your new brother!”

(Note:  Just one other thing that pissed me off about this movie:  About five or six years ago, I started writing a script for a “Last House” remake, just for fun. I had slight variations in mind and music picked out, among other things.   I only got about 15 or 20 pages into it when I found out it was already being remade.  I figured I’d stop writing it, and I lost it forever when my hard drive crashed a few months ago.  One of the songs I had picked out was Death In Vegas’s “Dirge.”  Well, guess what song plays at the closing credits of the new version?  Yup, motherfuckers!)

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7 Responses to “The Remake Of “The Last House On The Left” Can Suck My Balls And Die”

  1. Nickie Says:

    I hate you right now more than anything.

    • jamesdolata Says:

      Watch the original, then you’ll realize how tame the remake is. And if it’s any consolation, I would’ve done this post even if you hadn’t have told me not to.

  2. Cassie Says:

    I’m utterly disturbed…I don’t think I can read another blog for awhile. I read because I don’t give a shit about movie spoilers for horror movies. I’ll never know because I can’t sit through them, but I got just as much gore as if I watched the damn movie just from reading you analytical criticism and recommendations. Yikes!

  3. Cassie Says:

    Also, I think a lot of films in the past few years have been watered down and “comfortable”. I still hate horror films, and I’m sure I won’t watch this one, but I wait for when movies in general stop sucking.

  4. Jenny Says:

    I haven’t seen the remake. Just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Thanks James…I now know it was a good thing I didn’t.

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