Parents' Guide to

The Last House on the Left (1972)

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Amateurish bloodbath that became a cult-horror hit.

Movie R 1972 91 minutes
The Last House on the Left (1972) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 18+

Intense low budget thriller by a great director; as violent and disturbing as it gets

"The Last House on the Left" is the debut film of Wes Craven, who would later go on to direct 'Nightmare on Elm Street' and the 'Scream' franchise. While said famous contributions to the horror genre had their gory moments, they were still easier to handle than this hard edge rape and revenge flick, and were more mainstream as well. Based on Ingmar Bergman's 'The Virgin Spring', it evolves around a gang of criminals who sexually assault, torture and kill two young women before seeking shelter at one of their parents' house. For all its violence and disturbung moments, it is not without its deeper thoughts and moral, questioning the viewers' expectation on grindhouse cinema and exploitation films, who were generally celebrating their brutality. "The Last House on the Left" does the exact opposite: it is not much fun to watch, and is far from being over the top and silly, as most other flicks of its genre were. This is why it ultimately succeeds in so many ways. It is a clever yet gruesome thriller, something above the ordinary, and often with an artful and almost poetic touch (e.g. the foreshadowing, the way music is used, the pace and use of the three different plot lines [the girls, the police and the parents],...). Nevertheless it is not for everyone. It doesn't aim at everyday horror viewers, is not the faint-hearted and sure, it is a bit dated. But just right for lovers of rebellious and challenging 70s cinema. //// "The Last House on the Left" is disturbing, bloody and violent throughout. Two girls are tortured with knives, repeatedly raped, forced to rape each other and urinate, stabbed, have letters carved into them, their stomach cut open, and more. An arm is severed. Very bloody and realistic. (SPOILERS) Later in the film, the parents take revenge in equally brutal fashion. The mother seduces one of the murderers and performs oral sex on him before biting off his penis. We catch a glimpse of her violently shaking her head to rip it off, but don't see the genitals. Two women fight and one of them is hit and thrown into a pool. One of the killers commits suicide by shooting himself. We see the aftermaths (some blood on the wall and coming out of his maw). The head of the gang is killed off-screen with a chainsaw (the room is full of blood). (END OF SPOILERS) Due to the sexual nature of the violence there is nudity throughout the movie, as well as sexual talk and strong profanity. Drugs are verbally refered to in several scenes. The girls want to buy marijuana, also one of the murderers is a heroin addict. This movie is extremely graphic and disturbing, even for adults.
age 13+

Wes... this is so you!

David Hess is a scary buttocks killer as the role, if you have a little girl she might get scared if she watches this! This film does deal with extremely explicit content, involving rape, molestation, urination, murder, torture, and violence, MIGHT want to watch this movie with your kids

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (11 ):

Done on a shoestring budget with no-name actors (some moonlighting from porno flicks), the dreadful Last House on the Left became a "grindhouse" hit. A few appreciative critics call it a classic -- others condemned it as vile garbage -- though amidst grubby production values and community-theater acting, there are only brief hints writer-director Wes Craven would later be hero to young, thrill-hungry moviegoers for masterminding the Scream and Freddy Krueger film series.

A comment-worthy touch here: the idea (brought out better in Craven's even grislier The Hills Have Eyes) that "ordinary" people, one of them a doctor, could commit appalling slaughter, just as heinous as the villains here -- so what makes them any better? Still, it takes an effort for modern viewers to look past the outdated hairstyles, muffled dialogue, and primitive visuals that horror-fanciers have found so compelling. Especially painful/jarring are the moments of would-be comedy relief and a wildly uneven grab-bag of soundtrack songs, ranging from spacey hippie ballads to a jug-band and kazoo (!) fanfare.

Movie Details

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