1/18/09

Dollar Dealicious: House on the Edge of the Park (1980)

Tonight's feature is a triple threat. First off it's from a low priced package of DVD's. Secondly, it marks the second appearance by both Ruggero Deodato and David Hess this month. The Ladies of the Lair of course covered Last House on the Left with Mr. Hess a couple of days back. And who can forget two weeks ago when we faced the Jungle Holocaust with old Ruggero as our guide? Those were good times..ahem, relatively. For tonight these two powerhouses of exploitation cinema collide in a little flick I like to call..
The House on the Edge of the Park (1980) starring David Hess, Giovanni Radice, Annie Bell, and Christian Borromeo. Directed by Ruggero Deodato. 


It's a happening night in NYC, and Alex (Hess) and Ricky (Radice) are about leave work and hit the town, but before they can split, a couple brings their car into the garage for them to look at. Lisa and Tom are on their way to a party, and after some quick repair by Ricky, Alex manages to get them invited to the party. 

Once they arrive at the party, the mechanics begin to cause trouble. Alex pulls a straight razor after a card game goes wrong, and they begin to hold everyone hostage. The duo terrorize the women, beat down the men, and don't hesitate to hurt anyone who crosses them. However the party is not all it seems, and secrets are kept until the bitter end. 

Film Facts

--David Hess rewrote most of his dialog. 

--Annie Bell also appeared in 1976's Black Emmanuelle, White Emmanuelle.

--Giovanni Radice was in the cast of  Cannibal Apocalypse and Cannibal Ferox

--Cinematographer Sergio D'Offizi worked with Lucio Fulci on Don't Torture A Duckling and The Eroticist. 

The Bug Speaks

This is one of those films that makes you just say something over and over while you watch it. It becomes your mantra, and you begin to have a zenlike peace about the plot-holes, the inconsistencies, the inane behavior of characters. The only way to achieve this state during this film is to simply, incredulously  in your mind ask, "Really?"

Everyone gets a quick repair job and then invites their mechanic along to fancy dress party.  "Really?" It's perfectly normal to get to the party, and for one of the mechanics to start doing a terrible striptease. "Really?" I know our captors have been out in the hall for a while, and there's probably some way to get out of this situation, but I think I'll remain right here. "Really?" Oh, a bit of rape, very nice. "Really?"

But I digress, for the moment at least. First off I'd like to say this is a brutal film. Unlike Last House on the Left none of the rape is implied, and some of the rape is even played out as if it was consensual. Now there's plot reasons that I can't spoil for why person X might do thing Y with her V, but in context it makes little sense. David Hess also administers a few thrashings of the men, and he goes to town with his razor on the skin of an uncomfortably young looking girl. This is a movie with a mean spirit, and it's not afraid who knows it. 

That being said, the movie does play out like a one person show almost. Even in the few scenes he is not in, David Hess is the not so proverbial elephant in the room. He truly is believable as a psycho bastard, but while playing against a bunch of blank slates, there's no room to explore anything about Alex except his brutality.

 The brutality and the debate over the civilized nature of man is a running theme in the work of Deodato. He seemed to be taking something overdone in the Last House on the Left clone genre and doing it more gutturally violent and depraved as possible. The juxtaposition between the classes and the level and types of violence they incur all seemed to be on his mind. 

However the film is hindered by making any statement by the actions it takes to do so. The somber mood of the picture is pervasive and quite wearing after a while. The treatment of women in this film has been given great debate, and deserves it more so than Last House on the Left. I also have a great deal of problems with the ending which I won't spoil here. However I will say that the resolution came far too late in the falling action, and after the events of the earlier portion of the film, I felt that needed to feel more satisfying. 

It is a film I'm glad that I've seen. However I am hesitant to recommend it. Just know that this is a film that lives up to the Deadato hallmark, and if you can get a deal like I did then it's well worth it. For less than a dollar, this film had a nice transfer and a couple of genre heavyweights bringing what they do to the screen. Really!
Bug Rating

4 comments:

  1. err I don't think that Radice was in Cannibal Holocaust, though he was in Cannibal Apocolypse and Cannibal Ferox. Regarding the latter Radice, incidentally, doesn't seem to have a single good word to say about the director Umberto Lenzi.

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  2. I stand corrected, sir. I see the mistake I made after rereading some of mu notes..

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  3. Its easily done mate, besides Radice doesn't particularly like the movies he was in so if he had read that the blood pressure may have finished him off. :)

    Incidentally when I emailed him a while back to interview him the stuff he said about lenzi I decided not to print on the blog for fear of legal action- despite the fact the dude is known for gory horror movies he does not like them. He also mentioned that he hasnt seen City Of The Living Dead and the only Fulci he had seen was the Psychic.

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  4. I'll have to keep an eye out for this one. . .

    Thanks for the review LB!

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