Horror Remakes that Stand Up to the Original, Part II

In my first installment of horror remakes, I discussed Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) remake. What a great take on a classic character from my adolescent nightmares. To hear the opening notes of the theme song, duh duh duh dun dun DUH, chills me to the bone ’til this day.

Now I want to tackle Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left (1972). What a gruesome film. Two teenage girls, Phyllis and Mari, are on their way to a concert. They take a detour to try and score pot before the show and run across a band of crazy convicts who brutally attack them. The next day, they drive the girls into the woods and, unbeknownst to the criminals, the woods are near Mari’s home. Each girl tries to escape and is viciously murdered by the gang. Phyllis is stabbed to death, her head cut off, her insides removed. Mari is shot to death and left floating in the lake.

The Last House on The Left


Later that stormy night the criminals take refuge in the home of Mari’s parents. Her mother overhears the crew discussing the rape and murder of the girls. They go to the lake, find their daughters body on the shore, carry her home, and take their revenge on the clique. And what grisly revenge it is. There is nothing that these parents wouldn’t do for their little princess, and that includes carrying out their own brand of justice for her murder.

The Last House on The Left

In 2009 director Dennis Iliadis put his own personal spin on the story with a bit of updating to reflect the times. Tony Goldwyn, best known for his roles in Ghost and as President Fitzgerald T. Grant on ABC’s Scandal, along with Monica Potter, from Along Came a Spider and NBC’s Parenthood, star in this remake as the parents, John and Emma Collingwood, of one of the tortured and raped girls. This rendition is definitely darker than the earlier showing. Where the original film is full of gore and in your face violence, the remake is menacing, calculating, and driven by raw emotion, adrenaline, and two parents’ need for retribution in the name of their daughter.

What’s interesting about this remake is that the daughter, Mari, survives and makes it back to her lake house after being shot and left for dead in the lake. And one of the gang, Justin, a decent kid who is just caught up in the whirlwind of his crazy family, doesn’t want to be a part of what has/will happen to the Collingwoods. He is the one, in a covert manner, that alerts the family that something is amiss with their daughter. You feel empathy for this kid that cannot seem to escape his circumstance…his insane, sadistic family. But what you also see in this story, this film, is that there is dark side within us all. We are all capable of darkness, especially in the behalf of someone we love. John Carpenter once remarked, “Monster’s in movies are us, always us, one way or the other…The part of us that’s vicious and cruel…” Well, Mama and Papa Collingwood may look like Ozzie and Harriet but they carry BIG sticks…they have teeth, and knives and were not afraid to use them.

This gory remake has depth of character to go along with the carnage and it is worth the watch.

Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah Beyah
Khuwailah "Cookie" Beyah hails from North Carolina. She is a pop culture nut and loves all things Nathan Fillion. Ms. Beyah has a passion for the macabre and the horror genre. She serves on the "Nevermore Film Festival" selection committee in Durham, NC and attends several comic and horror conventions each year. She holds an MA from Duke University, but is a dyed in the wool North Carolina Tar Heel fan! She also enjoys writing and reading creative non-fiction.

What do you think?