Episode 6

The Last House on the Left (1972)

The sixth and final film in our Self-Aware Horror cycle is the landmark exploitation film, The Last House on the Left (1972). 

Made off the proceeds of a successful pornographic film, this genuinely gonzo horror film sparked the careers of two kings of horror, Wes Craven and Friday the 13th creator, Sean Cunningham. On the surface, this rape-revenge exploitation film plays it straight: shock, rape, murder, revenge. But beneath the schlock is an avant-garde rip current that is essentially a middle finger to American Exceptionalism, a canary in the coalmine for a desiccated and fraying empire. This is a bizarre juxtaposition that never really settles right in your stomach. What is depicted vs what you feel seems separated by a grand canyon of satire, which is why we chose this as our final film in our Self-Aware Horror series.

For our chaser film, we try to decipher The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967). It is a lark, a common parody, or is there something more going on in Roman Polanski's first major studio film. The year after Vampire came out, modern horror began with The Night of Living Dead. We try to decide whether Vampire Killers was a harbinger or an anachronism.