The House on the Edge of the Park (1980)

If you manage to make it to the end of The House on the Edge of the Park, director Ruggero Deodato’s controversial thriller, the overriding question you will be left asking is why? Why would someone want to make such a film, and why would anyone want to watch it? David Hess, of The Last House on the Left (1972) notoriety, stars as a cocky car mechanic, who gets his kicks from terrorising random women before killing them off, but who finally gets his comeuppance with an unexpected twist, in a film with little reason behind it.

Psychopath Alex (Hess) and his simpleton friend Ricky (Giovanni L. Radice) find themselves unexpected guests at a party of some upper-class, but equally degenerate young people, at their grand house in suburban New York. However, what starts as an innocent, if slightly sleazy get-together, soon spirals into a night of unrelenting horror as each group begins to show their true intentions.




The real problem with this schlockfest is that everything takes too long, drawn out interminably in an attempt to play on the viewers squeamishness for as long as possible. What might be mildly unpleasant if briefly glimpsed, becomes nauseating as we are subjected to a man having his face reduced to pulp when it’s repeatedly smashed into a table and a razor being lovingly sliced across a young girl’s bare body to name but two toe curling scenes.




There’s also a fundamental difference between a film which gives the viewer a scare (some might even say a fright every now and then is healthy) and something which is repulsive. If you listen to interviews with Hess and Deodato concerning the film, they have discussed the aspects which interested them in its story – mainly that everyone, rich or poor, can be an animal if pushed to breaking point. However you often feel when hearing film makers justify their work in this way that it’s just an excuse, and really what it boils down to is that they actually like violence and making a film can be a ‘legitimate’ way to exorcise their fantasies – which is often why a lot of people watch this kind of film too. Ultimately they could make their point just as effectively but less sickeningly, but then who would remember them for that?
Cleaver Patterson

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