Judge David Johnson recommends staying away from the last house in the woods. The second-to-last? That one's okay.
Italian horror has returned.
The story may be familiar—hapless outsiders find themselves enduring g a living nightmare in a house full of inbred, cannibal weirdos—but this import carves a nice reputation all its own.
Facts of the Case
I love the opening sentence of the disc case synopsis: "Young lovers escape a group of bullies." That's an understatement. Our two protagonists are accosted by a group of deranged wannabe rapists, far from bullies, who force them to take solace in the home of a mysterious couple.
It's not long until the sanctuary turns into a hellhole. The family is messed up something fierce. There's dad, the hornball, mom, the sadistic matriarch, their two sons, the mentally challenged murderers and their little boy, a cannibal with sharpened teeth. The blood flows freely and one by one, whoever enters the house ends up sucking on the business end of a chainsaw.
This is the third film I've reviewed under the "Ghost House Underground" moniker and it is easily the best. Director Gabrielle Albanesi has brought back Italian horror in a big way with this release; a bloody, creepy splatterfest that draws inspiration from the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Then again, I guess it's near impossible to make a horror movie about a family of cannibal yokels and not be compared to the classics.
Anyway, the film doesn't waste much time getting into the nitty-gritty. Once our young lovers end up in the house, Albanesi stomps on the accelerator and cranks up the bloodletting. In the commentary he said he wanted to keep the graphic violence to a minimum, but I'm not seeing that here: chainsaws hack off limbs, ragged leg stumps spew arterial spray, throats are opened up, knives are buried into torsos and a young boy tears out large swaths of flesh with his mouth. Really, quart for quart, this may just be one of the messiest, goopiest slasher flicks I've seen in some time.
An added bonus: the characters are more than the typical target practice. The boyfriend/girlfriend duo are sympathetic, mainly because of how they were terrorized in the beginning, but also because of the sheer physical and emotional abuse that is foisted upon them during their stay in the titular house. Towards the end of the film, three more characters enter the fray, and Albanesi has some fun playing with preconceived notions, flipping former douchebags into characters I was rooting for. The villains are memorable as well, especially Evil Mom and her whacked-out Evil Human Flesh-Eating son.
Finally, points awarded for the bizarre ending and the reveal of the purpose behind the family's grotesque actions. There's one shot—you'll what it is—that's really out there.
So The Last House in the Woods: a fine piece of Italian cannibal slasher horror, something that does its ancestry proud.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen is solid, if low-budget. Two stereo tracks for the audio: English and Italian. Extras include a commentary by Gabriele Albanesi, a short film starring more creepy kids, behind-the-scenes footage and trailers.
Splatter-happy and demented, this is a horror outing worth tracking down.
Not Guilty. Molto bene!
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.