At this point in his career Wes Craven was known for the mindless sadism and cruelty of The Last House on the Left (1972), an amateurish and vile exercise in screen grotesquery that he has since spent a career trying to defend. I’d have much more respect for Craven if he were to admit that his repugnant debut was an implement purely intended to make money. Instead he lives up to his surname by suggesting it is more than what it is. This shows contempt for the horror audience, a contempt he has shown throughout his career. But despite this obvious disdain, horror fans have, by and large, bought into Craven’s assertions about his debut film. Some will even argue that The Last House is a classic! Personally I’ll stick to The Wicker Man (1973) and Suspiria (1977) and anyone who wants scenes of women being made to piss themselves are welcome to them. The thematically similar The Hills Have Eyes (1977) however is far superior, and showed at least that Craven could actually a decent looking film. He took this visual competence a step further with his third theatrically released feature film Deadly Blessing. The film is notable for its lack of savagery and sadism. This is a sanitised Craven on his knees begging for entry to a mainstream he always craved. It is little more than a rural slasher, and although Craven enters into the realm of sub Halloween (1978) trickery (this just goes to highlight how inferior a filmmaker he is to John Carpenter), Deadly Blessing still manages to emerge as a lot of fun.
© Shaun Anderson 2011