The Last House on the Left

Release Date: March 13, 2009

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“The film has always caused a furor,” says Wes Craven, reminiscing about the time his directorial debut, The Last House on the Left, was released. “During the first year it ran in the US, people actually rushed to the projection booths trying to get to the print and destroy it. Theatre owners were bodily threatened, there was a fist-fight in one theatre, a heart-attack in another...reports of grown men weeping.”

The original film was released in 1972 and was highly controversial for its time due to horrible scenes of rape, murder and intestines. It ran with the tagline, “To avoid fainting, keep repeating it’s only a movie… only a movie.” Multiple versions exist on DVD with varying degrees of cuts.

After Rogue Pictures finalized a deal with Wes Craven back in 2006, the remake began shooting in the spring of 2008. This at least has Craven on board as producer and also the original producer Sean S. Cunningham.

The movie is directed by Dennis Iliadis, who is himself no stranger to controversy, with his previous and only directorial work being the adaptation of Hardcore in his homeland Greece. That film told the story of two young girls who get caught up in the world of prostitution and drugs. With Craven being a fan of that film, he tracked Iliadis down to direct the remake of The Last House on the Left, citing how he wanted “somebody who is a real artist who can give it his own vision,” suggesting that audiences can expect something new and different rather than another rehash.

Rogue Pictures achieved great success with The Strangers during the crowded summer of 2008, taking $52 million domestically against a small production budget of $10 million, and must be expecting similar results here. As with previous gory remakes such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes and Halloween, the story and plot developments follow the original quite closely. So you might be more inclined to pick that up if you’re really interested, because apart from the small cost (which hasn’t been revealed, but looks to be less than $20 million) and expected returns, it’s a little difficult to see straight out what’s so unique here to warrant a remake in the first place.

John (Tony Goldwyn) and Emma Collingwood (Monica Potter), along with their daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) take some time off at their summer lake house, which according to true horror movie convention is the only house for miles. Mari decides to visit her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac). Unfortunately they both end up kidnapped by prison escapee Krug (Garret Dillahunt), his lover Sadie (Riki Lindhome), and his brother Francis (Aaron Paul). Mari manages to escape but is shot. One can take an unpleasant guess as to what happens to Paige. Left for dead, Mari is astonishingly still alive, and struggles back to her parents. But it’s more bad news, since they’ve unknowingly given her attackers a place to stay at their lake house. When her parents finally learn the truth they plot to take bloody revenge.

'I-kinda-recognise-them' defines the cast involved, with Sara Paxton leading as Mari, having previously starred in Superhero Movie and Aquamarine. Also joining her is Monica Potter as mummy Emma, after having served a small stint on Boston Legal, and Tony Goldwyn as daddy John, who most would remember as bad guy Carl from Ghost. Other notables include Martha MacIsaac as Paige, previously seen in Superbad and Garret Dillahunt as Krug, an actor you might recall from Deadwood, No Country For Old Men and The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

How will it compare with previous remakes? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre leads, costing a minuscule $9.5 million and eventually grossing $80 million domestically, resulting in a prequel. The Hills Have Eyes took $41 million domestically against a budget of $15 million, which was enough to release a sequel. Lastly, Rob Zombie’s Halloween had a production budget of $20 million, grossed $58 million and a sequel is planned for 2009. The Last House on the Left is likely to fall somewhere in between, which means that someone might be commissioned to write The Last House on the Right. (Shalimar Sahota/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Last House on the Left
Main Cast Garret Dillahunt, Rhys Coiro, Martha MacIsaac
Supporting Cast Riki Lindhome, Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter
Director Dennis Iliadis
Screenwriter Adam Alleca
Distributor Rogue Pictures
Screen Count 2,401
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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