This film made me sick. I know that my last post praised the masterpiece horror in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre due to the film's mastery of sensory emotions. But I must immediately raise another rapturous celebration for Last House's achievements in exploitation horror. Where Tobe Hooper succeeded by manipulating the objective correlative, I will claim that Wes Craven's success derives from his mastery of structure. Last House frames itself as a Shakespearean tragedy and revenge tale placed in the backwater town road outside a city (it may be New York, but the effect of the film does not require an specific location). I say Shakespearean because of the comic relief scenes involving the police officers. Just as the Gatekeeper in Macbeth disrupts the aftermath of the murder to inject a comic soliloquy, these police men brilliantly pull the audience out of the pit of overwhelming pathos. Another Shakespearean element is the gripping frustration at how close the tragedy came to being avoided. Just as Shakespeare denies Juliet seeing Romeo before he takes his life, Craven brutally denies Mari and Phyllis salvation from their captors even though both the police and Mari's home are tantalizingly close during the entire ordeal of bloodthirsty abuse, torture, and murder.
I repeat, this film made me sick.