Director – Ruggero Deodato
Cast – David Hess, Annie Belle, Christian Borromeo, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Marie Claude Joseph, Gabriele Di Giulio, Karoline Mardeck, Lorraine De Selle
Release Year – 1980
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I was pretty stoked for this the first time I read about this flick, mainly due to its awesome storyline and a title that stuck with me as creepy in its own right. Somehow, I had not realized that this film came directed by Ruggero Deodato(Cannibal Holocaust, Last Cannibal World) until the opening credits rolled, and that only increased my desire to see what this flick had to offer. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed in this one, and while it is not a bad film by any means and is in fact a mostly-positive horror experience, it was just not as great as I expected it to be thanks to a screenplay that drags on numerous occasions and fails to achieve the full potential this awesome storyline and great director have to offer.
When scumbag lowlifes Alex and Ricky come across a young couple asking for their help with car trouble, they accept the offer and invite themselves to tag along for a lavish party. After being mocked by their high-class snobbish hosts, the duo subjects them to brutal punishment and torture as payback.
If you know me then you know that I love revenge themed films, and when you give me a revenge themed film with a prominent Italian director you have my devout attention. Oh, and if you haven’t guessed by now, this Italian drive-in fodder flick is heavily influenced by Wes classic debut effort, The Last House on the Left. Writers Vincenzo Mannino and Gianfranco Clerici are credited with this awesome story, which gives us the diabolical yet charming-in-his-own-right Alex and his moronic sidekick Ricky as two sleazy thugs looking for some late-night fun. I loved the idea of them crashing the lavish party and trying to blend in with their upper-league hosts and the hosts taking full advantage of them for their own amusement. Ricky falls victim to them right away, being lead to dance like a fool and then lose all the money in his pockets during a poker game, and when Alex decides that enough is enough and calls out the hosts for their un-hospitality all hell breaks loose. Alex was well-written in both dialogue and in his actions, which were the selling point of this The Last House on the Left inspired flick. In fact, Alex was much like the lead antagonist in The Last House on the Left, and I am sure the fact that David Hess stars as both characters is not a coincidence. Nonetheless, Alex provided awesome conflict in this piece, however the film’s faults seem to come as a result of the over-usage of Alex. We get long bouts where either nothing happens or the events going on take too long and become dull, and I think it had much to do with the fact that pretty much only Alex contributed conflict to the film. At first our male protagonists fought back as best as they could against Alex, but once they were subdued, which was early-on into the carnage, we were not given much resistance to Alex after that, and it simply bored me. This went on for way too long and despite the film’s awesome climax, which contains a unique and gratifying twist, the film’s end result had already been solidified by the time the final sequence kicked in. Also playing into the long bouts of nothing happening was the fact that we get very few kills in this film. Granted, the story is not about killing but more about torture, and in order for torture to be effective the victim must be alive, so I can be forgiving for that.
Director Ruggero Deodato did an OK job with this piece, giving us great usage of our antagonists to provide some good shock and horror. David Hess was his usual incredible self, and he showed that over a decade later he still had the persona and cool style to portray a charming yet sadistic psychopath. The subject matter written into the film may not be pleasant to some as it involves rape and other forms of torture, but Deodato seems to not take that into consideration as we are given full-frontal nudity and plenty of sleaze as well. That is exactly why I love Deodato; he holds nothing back and does as he pleases, something directors rarely do these days. His sets used were positive, and the home that most of the film takes place in gave the proper secluded atmosphere needed to portray the daunting situation our protagonists are in as they are far from any nearby help. We do not get much as far as gore goes, which surprised me given Deodato’s…reputation for gore, but frankly this film was not so much about killing but more about torture, so there is at least a plausible reason for the lack of gory goods.
Overall, The House on the Edge of the Park is a mostly-positive effort with a cool overall storyline that suffers pacing faults despite its awesome subject matter. Much in the vein of The Last House on the Left, The House on the Edge of the Park is not for the squeamish, and given this comes from director Ruggero Deodato you can expect a full-frontal experience of this tasteless and sleazy subject matter that takes a true sick bastard like myself to appreciate.