There is plenty of hoopla one way or the other about this film by writer-director David DeFalco and it really does not deserve all the attention it is getting, so I figured I would just give it a little more. A lot of the chatter is directed at the opening statements of the film that are given in a serious "safety film" tone about the dangers that can befall careless teenagers and young women each year. There are even murder statistics quoted for some reason in the Jack Webb style narration. It reminded me of those Criswell intros to some of Ed Wood's cooler films really. It is really as if Defalco believes this load of rubbish has some sort of socially significant message and will save lives. On the DVD version I have there is a commentary by DeFalco and the film’s producer about a review by Roger Ebert that pans the movie. They seem to feel Ebert misses the point of their “valuable” film and go on and on trying to redeem it in a sometimes point by point rebuttal. At one point goofy looking DeFalco says (paraphrased) that Ebert never said it was bad film (technically I assume he means) but that Ebert did not approve of the film’s “stark realism and ultimate nihilism” (quotations and phrase are mine). Okay, then let me be clear: this film is inept and amateurish. The film making is shoddy and simply void of any talent. It makes Murder Set Pieces (a review is coming up soon here at The Uranium Café) look like a David Lean epic.
The acting (especially by usually reliable Kevin Gage) is not always bad though the actors seem to be hamming it up for fun at times, as if they know they are trapped in a bomb and are going to enjoy the ride until the check comes in. In the end however the film lacks any humor or wit. This it could be argued by supporters of the film (and there are more than few on the net) was the intention of DeFalco because how could you imbue such a socially serious subject with anything other than despair and gloom.
The Last House on the Left plot is very simple and in more talented hands (or hands with some talent) the film could have been an homage to Satanic stalker, Manson family, psycho revenge films of the 70’s, rather than this exercise in gratuitous and meaningless excess. Okay, okay movies do not have to have deep meaning here at the Cafe, but they cannot simply suck either. Real quick: A group of drugged up social misfits target and brutalize anyone that crosses paths with them and wind up in a cabin in the woods (I forget how and refuse to rewatch the film to remember) and are soon bored and send out Sage Stallone (Sly’s fat little boy) to bring back some chicks to have fun with. Of course there are two “nice girls” who can’t help but rebel against mommy and daddy so that when they arrive at the usually-pretty-safe-to-be-at (unless you wander off with strangers) rave they are so taken away with Sage’s moody, aggressive “so do ya want some free ecstasy or not” charm they decide to wander off with him into the woods to the cabin full of sexually deranged psychos. They are immediately set upon and tortured and assaulted and chased through the woods and caught and killed in horrible and, yes, disgusting fashion. However the deaths are far from the most brutal deaths ever put to film and the movie is in no way as shocking as all the banter would lead you to believe.
Eventually the killers wind up back at the house of one of the girls with her parents aware of who they are and what they did (ala Last House on the Left). Unlike Last House we are treated to an ending not where the killers receive their just desserts of warm revenge but an ending where everyone but Chaos (Gage) is killed and he leaves to continue his bloody rampage on more ecstasy hungry rave goers… so like the opening monologue preaches… beware young ones who you wander off into the woods with for free ecstasy, HE IS STILL OUT THERE! So please listen to ex-wrestler and amateur porn star David DeFalco and watch his “training” film on how to survive raves and bad hitchhiking experiences!
Ultimately the problem with this film is not the so called brutal murders but the lameness of the film making and script. The DVD commentary is entertaining but the movie is pointless in a pathetic way while taking itself way too seriously. It fails on all points and even Kevin Gage is a let down. He was far more menacing in Heat as DeNiro’s protagonist and hooker serial killer. I saw a review on the net that says it best. Just keep telling yourself… it’s only a rip off, it’s only a rip off…