Wes Craven, Why Must You Put Us Through Such Things?

i might just be the most productive person in the world.  i have papers to write, papers to grade, books to read, etc.  but i spent the day doing all manner of things unrelated to the above.

for instance, i shaved my legs.  i looked at nataliedee.com. i wrote emails to people all over the united states.  and i re-traumatized myself.

years ago, i saw last house on the left, and i felt justifiably enraged by it.  upon this, my second viewing, i find it even more abhorrent, and let me see if i can’t explain why.

i know in the past i have discussed my feelings on including rapes in horror films.  on an intellectual level, i find it a little too easy to link sex and violence in such an obvious way.  on a personal level, i feel like it often tells a story in such a way that the discussion is no longer productive, and we (the viewers) are left with an almost glamorized version of the act.

having said that, i think this film is particularly problematic in terms of the rape narrative. 

mari’s friend phyllis is a bad girl.  (i am sure you can see where this is going.) phyllis is the first rape victim in this film.  why?  because she is the bad girl.  and bad girls get what’s coming to them.  (and according to many horror filmmakers, rape is what is coming to them.) ask wes craven.  i am sure he could not avoid saying something exactly like this.  he repeats this in his film the hills have eyes (only adding bad guys with physical deformities).

now, they don’t immediately decide to do the same to the virginal and angelic mari.  no.  first they force mari and phyllis to have sex with each other.  you see, they can’t destroy mari without first tainting her and making her that bad girl.  it’s madonna or whore, ladies.  take your pick.  during this male gaze determined lesbian-style sexual assault, phyllis tries to comfort mari, which is problematic on a-whole-nother level.  not only is phyllis the bad girl who then taints mari, but she coaches her into her badness and seems almost comfortable in this role.  she further extends the idea that bad girls should expect these things to happen, and they should carry them well.

now, of course, phyllis has to be murdered (and dismembered).  the bad girl can’t live.  no. no. no.  so that happens while mari is trying to convince the methadone addict somewhat simple brother to help her escape to her house, which is just through the woods–the last house on the left.

while simple brother and mari are en route to her home, they are stopped by the other three psychos, and krug, the baddest baddie of them all, pulls mari down to the ground and carves his name into her chest while the creepy businesslike man hold her arms above her head in the dirt.  you see, krug is claiming ownership, another common element of the rape narrative when it is inserted into the horror film.  and we know what happens next.

we are treated to a painful shot of mari’s face with krug’s cheek smashing it into the ground with phyllis’s blood still on his cheek.  this is mari’s rape scene.  and it lasts for just a minute, but that minute is longer than any minute i have ever seen (except for i spit on your grave).

and of course, mari is now tainted and owned by the baddie, so she must die too.  in fact, mari would take care of this herself if possible.  post-rape she vomits in the grass and begins to walk into the creek.  but her destruction cannot be her choice.  krug has to take ownership of this as well.  he shoots mari multiple times while she is walking into her (presumably) cleansing waters.

and then the revenge comes in.

apparently nancy is not the only one with the know-how on “booby-traps and other improvised anti-personnel devices.”  it all started with mari’s dad, who sets the house up in a manner almost exactly like nancy’s on elm street (admittedly less advanced and far less funny).  and he has a shotgun with a single shell.  and a chainsaw.  and you can imagine what happens to krug.

but this is nothing compared to what mari’s mother goes through to seek her revenge.  she has to play sex kitten with business baddie.  yes, she pretends she wants to fuck him (with HIS hands tied behind his back).  and she does this why?  so she can bite his penis off while she is giving him a blowjob.  (and people wonder why i find blowjobs so disgusting… besides the obvious lesbian factor.)

she is also the one who slashes the lady’s throat in the pool and leaves the scene disgusted.  i haven’t said much about her.  i think i can’t.  she is vaguely gay, and the representation that provides is truly one of the most offensive i have ever seen.

the trouble with this kind of narrative is not that craven put on film, but that he doesn’t seem to care that much about the dialogue into which it fits.  he doesn’t care about the notion of the invisible rape victim–something bergman neglected to address in his film too (yes, i am talking about the virgin spring).

now, there are other flaws that are not thematic so much as… um… ridiculous?

why did we need to bumbling inept cops as comic relief?  that shit is not scary, and it killed the the tension of the film over and over again.  fuck those cops.  they suck.  and the younger one is a serious doucher (who i am pretty sure ended up in one of warhol’s films at some point).

and let’s not forget the seriously racist representation of the black chicken truck driver ada.  yes, she is actually toothless.  can you even fucking believe that?

and the music.  fucking the music, man.  fuck.

that whole thing was just abusive… to everyone involved.

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~ by acaseofyou12581 on April 25, 2009.

3 Responses to “Wes Craven, Why Must You Put Us Through Such Things?”

  1. I call this the Lame House on the Left. I can’t stand this movie either!

  2. I’ve seen this at least five times now, and I can’t deny that it works. It does just what Craven wants it to. But I can’t say I enjoy it or that I think it’s justified.

    I will say that the film it’s based on, Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, is pretty amazing.

  3. […] there anyone out there who is not creeped out by him?  Every time I see him I have flashbacks of Last House on the Left, and I don’t want to do that, man.  It’s like, BOOM! Witness his face smashing into […]

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