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Sep 13

The House on the Edge of the Park

houseontheedgeoftheparkGenre: Horror
Year: 1980
Country: Italy

original title: La Casa Sperduta Nel Parco

Director: Ruggero Deodato
Starring: David Hess, Annie Belle, Christian Borromeo, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Marie Claude Joseph

 

Delivers shocks to the maximum… pushes the limits of acceptability

 

Alex is a mechanic in New York City and he enjoys taking his semi-retarded friend Ricky out to explore the disco scene, get down and boogie and pick up some young women. And if the girls don’t agree to have some intimate moments with him, Alex has no trouble raping them and even murdering them after he is done.

One night before Alex and Ricky has had time to close up shop, a young couple comes driving in with a car problem and persuades them to fix it. When they mention that they are on their way to a party, Alex invites him and Ricky along with them and when they arrive they start to have a party the way they like it, violent and bloody.

The House on the Edge of the Park is a film that has been compared to the infamous Last House on the Left. It is easy to see why since they do share some similarities and both have Dave Hess in the role of a brutal rapist, but I still wouldn’t call this a rip-off and would rather call it a mixture between Last House on the Left and The New York Ripper.

This film became one of the video nasties and it is easy to see why. The entire film seems to have been made simply to show sleazy violence. It couldn’t have taken long to write this film and the only originality they had in it was to add a surprise twist at the end that just came off incredibly stupid. There is some rich vs. poor comments added in it, but it’s not really given any time. The film also does feature humiliation of a very young and sweet girl named Cindy, played by Brigitte Petronio that is bound to shock and upset people. She has one of the most haunting screams here and she seems genuinely terrified, it is a standout scene in this film and in the history of exploitation films.

While the film has no story, it does have a very disturbing atmosphere. It feels sleazy and dirty, almost like it wants you to enjoy the atrocities you are watching. It might question your own morality while watching it since it doesn’t try to hide the fact that it is violent for the sake of being violent. If movies such as Saw and Hostel could be labeled torture porn in the early 2000’s, then I don’t know what you can call a film like this since it is far more superior in making you feel uneasy than any of those.

A good movie will make you feel something. It doesn’t matter if it is laughter, sadness or happiness, if it makes you feel something then it has succeeded somewhere. And that’s what this film does. It might not be feelings that you enjoy, but it certainly won’t leave you unaffected and it is not a movie you will easily forget. For that alone, I think it is a good movie and for fans of sleaze it should be a must see film.

Ruggero Deodato was no stranger to controversial films before doing this. He was and will always be remembered for delivering the ultimate shocking film in Cannibal Holocaust. As he did with Cannibal Holocaust, he got the genius Riz Ortolani to do a music score for this film. There is something about Ortolanis scores that projects a sad and hopeless atmosphere and Deodato utilize it very well. It should also be mentioned that the movie is filled with dated disco music that is bound to make people laugh these days.

It’s probably not that fun to be known for playing violent rapists, but David Hess did do it very well with both his roles on The Last House on the Left, Hitch-Hike and of course this one. I like him a lot in his portrayal of Alex in this film. He is downright scary as this psychopath with good social skills that has no problem fitting in with any type of company. There seems to be more to him than an average cinema serial killer and I’m willing to bet that this is mostly due to Hess himself and not the scriptwriting.

Giovanni Lombardo Radice is equally great as Alex’s sidekick Ricky. He seems like a guy that would never become a part of anything like this if it wasn’t for his friendship with Alex, but he also just don’t know any better to stand up for himself and make his own decisions. Radice is also another great actor who is mostly remembered for being a part of violent films, which I’m sure is not very fun for a classically trained actor but for us who love horror films we are more than happy for his performances in these films.

The House on the Edge of the Park would be a good fit on a double bill with The New York Ripper since it shares some of the same sleazy and dirty atmosphere. This film is not for cinema fans who enjoy a good story, but rather for those who are after a film that will make you feel uneasy. It is a film you either will love or hate and I fall in the first category.

 

 ★★★½☆ 

 

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