You don’t hear much about The Last House on the Left outside of hard-core horror circles, and it definitely isn’t something that you should indulge in if you don’t have your grade-A gorehound face on. But it helped launched a darker strain of horror in the early 1970s, when Watergate and Vietnam left our national mood right for such nihilism. It also marked the breakout success of Wes Craven, who adapted Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring for the grindhouse crowd and found something potent and terrifying in the results. It was a trick Craven would reproduce a number of times in his storied career. The Last House on the Left opened 45 years ago today in 1972.
And since we’re in the grindhouse, a double-bill may be in order. John Boorman’s two-fisted chunk of neo-noir, Point Blank, opened 50 years ago today in 1967, featuring Lee Marvin dropping the hammer on all manner of criminal scumbags in the name of collecting an old debt. It doesn’t sink into full-bore insanity like some of Boorman’s later films, but deliciously sleazy ass-kicking doesn’t get any ass-kickinger than this.