The Film: The House On The Edge Of The Park (1984)
The Principles: Ruggero Deodato (director) Gianfranco Clerici and Vincenzo Mannini (writers) David Hess, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Lorraine De Selle, Christian Borromeo, Annie Belle, Maria Claude Joesph, and Gabriele Di Giulio (principles)
The Premise: David Hess basically plays Krug in an Italian exploitation film directed by the guy who made Cannibal Holocaust, Jungle Holocaust, and Cut And Run.
Is It Good: Well…..that depends. If you’re a fan of Italian exploitation, then you may dig it, but it certainly is a strong film. There’s a high level of misogyny on display, and EVERY woman is humiliated and naked at some point in the film. It’s quite an extreme film in that regard. Deodato had already made Cannibal Holocaust at this point, and that’s a film that is still shocking to this day.
Some will be turned away by the extreme acts committed in the film, while others will be glued to the screen and see how the film just continues to up itself with more and more depraved acts.
Now don’t get me wrong. Compared to other more recent films, The House On The Edge Of The Park could seem tame, but those films tend to rely on gore for the most part to shock audiences, and there’s actually very little of that in the film. This is one of those productions that has a heavy tone as well as the high level of depravity aimed at women. It’s extreme in a completely different way without having to shock people with gore effects like most modern horror films.
Take the film that it most obviously takes after. The Last House On The Left. The film was and still is regarded as a classic in the exploitation genre for having a documentary feel to it due to being shot in 16mm on a very low budget and just being plain shocking with its unflinching violence towards two girls, and then the violence dispersed onto the villains and villainess by the parents of one girl.
The House On The Edge Of The Park follows that plot fairly closely, and while it’s wrapped up with a fairly nonsensical twist (it’s laughable), the film still manages to throw out another intriguing performance from David Hess. The same man who played the lead villain, Krug, in The Last House On The Left. The man really knew how to play the scum of the earth. His Alex character is one that you immediately hate right from the beginning where he assaults and strangles a young girl while driving through the streets of New York. That’s the opening scene folks. It is intercut with some interesting cuts black that are almost like a “strobe effect”, and that only serves to make the scene all the more disturbing.
Then we meet his buddy Ricky. A simple minded fellow played by famed Italian character actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice (credited as John Morghen in the film) and he’s got one of the best scenes in the film. He does a silly dance that he performs in the titular house for all in attendance. His dance is as ridiculous as the one Crispin Glover does in Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter.
Speaking of the house, as is the case with most Italian productions from the late 70’s early 80’s, the title isn’t as accurate as it should be. The House is nowhere near the park, let alone the edge. It’s just a house that is sitting on quite a bit of land in the city.
Alex and Ricky get invited to a party at the house due to fixing up a couples (Christian Borromeo and Annie Belle) Cadillac, and since “It’s too late to go boogieing” they go with them. The party only has 3 other people in attendance, and therein lies another interesting aspect to the film.
The film is almost like a small play. For the majority of the film, it’s only these 7 people. Just in the house. Very rarely are we given glimpses of the outside. Towards the end of the film another character is introduced, and during a chase sequence outside a man walking his dog is seen, but other than that it’s just these people in this one location. Sure that has to do with the low budget, but you don’t see a lot of films that devote a large amount of their runtime to just being in one location and focusing on a few people.
Alex’s madness escalates and brandishing a straight razor he threatens and humiliates not only the women, but the men also. Pushing one into the pool out back and urinating on him and smashing the other’s face into a table. Ricky of course eventually has second thoughts about everything, but by that point it’s too late, and everyone will be scarred (psychologically and physically) by the end of the night.
Is It Worth A Look: As I said before it depends. If you’ve seen plenty of Italian exploitation, then you know what you’re in for. It’s not for the easily perturbed, but there is quite a bit of stuff that is so ridiculous that you can’t help laugh at the silliness. The dance that Ricky does, the cool music, a bald woman, and that stupid plot twist are all things that are sprinkled in between all the shocking violence.
Plus the film has David Hess in it. He always elevates whatever he’s in. He also gets a comeuppance in the film that will have you cheering!
Random Anecdotes: The movie was shot in three weeks.
The film was made in 1980, but not released until 1984.
When he first read the script, Ruggero Deodato was repulsed by the violence, but when he cast David Hess, he believed he could make him do anything with his direction.
Cinematc Soulmates: The Last House On The Left, Hitch-Hike, Death Wish, Death Wish II