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Last House On The Beach (Severin Films)

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    Ian Jane
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  • Last House On The Beach (Severin Films)

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    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: 9/23/2008
    Director: Franco Prosperi
    Cast: Florinda Bolkan, Ray Lovelock, Sherry Buchanan, Flavia Andreini, Stefano Cedrati
    Year: 1977
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    The Movie:

    When Wes Craven's 1972 sleaze-fest Last House On The Left made oodles and oodles of money around the world, it was only a matter of time before the Italian film industry cashed in on that film's success with their own home invasion/rape revenge films, many of which were very obviously directly 'inspired' by the most notorious film in Craven's catalogue. Ruggero Deodato's House On The Edge Of The Park is probably the most renowned of the Italian knock offs as it features David Hess (Krug himself) in a starring role but Franco Prosperi's La Settima Donna (released in North America under the alternate title of Last House On The Beach and then later under the simple name of Terror) holds its own in the sex and violence department.

    Eurocrime hunk Ray Lovelock leads a band of crooks (made up of Flavio Andreini and Stefano Cedranti) on the run after a recent bank job. They wind up discovering a nice, remote summer house right on the beach and decide that it'd be a wise move to hole up in there until things blow over a little bit, at which point they'll divide up the booty and party like it's 1999. When they get to the house, however, they find that it's occupied by a nun named Sister Christina (Florinda Bolkan) who is helping a small group of Catholic schoolgirls practice for their upcoming play.

    The crooks decide to make the best of their situation and they take over the house regardless of the obvious distress this causes its occupants. When one of the three hoods decides to have his way with one of the schoolgirls he finds himself stabbed in the leg and in pretty rough shape. This doesn't stop the other guys from playing a few games of their own with the girls and Sister Christina, however, but soon they're going to find that they've pushed them too far and we all know that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially a pissed off Catholic woman.

    Essentially a remake of Craven's film (which itself was essentially a remake of Ingmar Bergman's masterful The Virgin Spring) with a few characters and the primary setting changed, Last House On The Beach is a seedy and sordid affair that makes really drives home the grisliness of its rape scenes. Lovelock plays his character like the snake that he is, worming his way into the minds of a few of the young girls and attempting to gain their trust while his cohorts bumble their way around the house causing as many problems as they can. Florinda Bolkan does a nice job of playing the chaste and genuinely gracious nun thrust into the depths of Hell by her intruders and director Franco Prosperi (best known for Professional Killer) really drives this point home by using some very obvious and heavy handed Christian symbolism just in case we're not paying attention.

    While the film is almost completely predictable from the first fifteen minutes onward, it does benefit from some very slick and competent cinematography and a good cast. Sure we all know how it's going to turn out and most of us could probably even guess how it'll happen but the movie is quite well made which makes it worth a look for Eurocult enthusiasts despite (or possibly because of, depending on what side of the fence you're on) its filthy content and dirty, dirty set pieces.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Severin's 2.35.1 progressive scan anamorphic widescreen transfer on this DVD is quite good. The film looks very nice on this release with accurate color reproduction, fairly strong black levels and only a slight amount of print damage noticeable in the form of a few specks here and there. A few of the darker scenes exhibit some moderate grain but never enough to really prove distracting. Flesh tones look lifelike and quite natural and there are no problems with mpeg compression or edge enhancement.

    The disc comes with a serviceable Dolby Digital Mono. This mix is on par with most dubs from European horror films from the time period in that it sounds a little canned but overall it's a pretty clean mix and there aren't any problems to note with hiss or distortion. The film's score and sound effects sound pretty clear and the dialogue is always easy to understand and to follow.

    The only really substantial supplement on this release is Holy Beauty Vs. The Evil Beasts: Featurette With Star Ray Lovelock (28:29). Here, with cigarette in hand, Lovelock talks about his character in the film, how he came on board the project, what it was like working on the film and about some of his co-stars. He notes that he has some specifically positive memories and he discusses the final scene in a fair bit of detail. He also discusses some technical details about how certain scenes where shot. Overall it's a pretty interesting supplement and a welcome addition to the DVD. This interview first appeared on the Sazuma DVD from a couple of years back.

    Aside from that, look for Italian (2:51) and German (2:53) theatrical trailers for the film in anamorphic widescreen, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    The film has been available on DVD in Japan and Europe but never before in North America. Now, thanks to Severin, fans on this continent can grab themselves a nasty slice of Eurotrash with ease! The transfer and audio are pretty good and the bonus interview with Lovelock adds some value.
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