House on the Edge of the Park
Sick, Perverted, Crazed, and demented…only a few of the words you can try to use to describe House on the Edge of the Park. You either love it or you hate it. There is no middle ground to distinguish your opinion. This highly under-ratted classic proves Deodato’s talent as a director and visual genius. After three viewings of the film in one sitting, it kept getting better and better. Although it originally wasn’t like I had expected, the second time around it was a lot more entertaining. Not as graphically violent and gruesome as other movies of its time, House in my opinion is a grade “A” exploitation film that can use mind games and visceral abnormalities to shock you and leave you on the edge of your seat.
In a sleazy tale of the urban working class vs. the witty and sophisticated Jersey suburbians, you’re introduced to two cruel and unusual characters. Alex, played by David Hess, the demented sociopath we all know and love from Craven’s Last House on the Left, is teamed up with Giovanni Lombardo Radice, in his first film role as Ricky, Hess’ moronic and socially misfit sidekick.
The opening of the film sets up Hess’ character Alex as a force-full yet controlling individual who will go out of his way to get what he wants. Stopping his car in front of young girl’s vehicle, he runs over to her and immediately rapes her out in the middle of a park. The following evening, a young couple bring their car in for repair at Hess’ auto shop. While Radice fixes the alternator, Hess manages to talk his way into having both himself and tag-along Radice go with them to their party in upper class Jersey, where he feels he can spice things up with his charm and like ability. After the group of rich snobs have their fun with Radice, toying with his slightly retarded sensibility they soon decide to take all his money in a fixed poker game. Hess, who becomes easily seduced by the voluptuous Annie Belle, is driven to further extremes when he unsuccessfully tries to lay her. Hess is smart enough to play the game but fiends for self-depravity. In a role of male bonding with Radice, they play with the gray line of homosexuality and un-fostered violence. After Hess and Radice are made a fool of for the enjoyment of the snobs, his Krug-like character sees it fit to take matters into his own hands.
Attacking Howard, the party goer with the only balls, Hess has now successfully gained control of the entire house and while holding it hostage has his own fun with everyone individually. Victim number one, Gloria played by Lorraine De Selle, is chosen as first pick by Radice, who Hess orders to rape in front of everyone. Radice, scared and confused, refuses and puts Hess in a positon to show how it’s done. Ordering Belle to give him oral sex, smashing the life out of Tom, Christian Borromeo’s face, and scaring the others into a state of unrenowned shock; Hess has made his point. The climatic point of the film is around the time were introduced to Cindy, the un-lucky friend who stops by the house looking to party. Once Hess gets her into the house he exploits her in front of everyone, ripping away at her clothes from head to toe. Upon the discovery that she is a virgin, Hess’ character is put in a mind-state more ruthless and deadly than ever before.
Fastening her to the couch, Hess uses the infamous razor blade, synonymous to the international cover art, to torture and eventually murder her. Radice who notices Hess has been driven to the edge, try’s to stop him from murdering her…only to be gutted by the blade himself. Once Hess realizes he’s attacked his best friend he vows to end the lives of all the hostages. Unfortunately, for Hess’ sake, Tom has grabbed his gun from the living room drawer and stopped Hess from doing anymore harm by shooting him first in the leg then several times in other parts of the body. You learn of Tom’s relation to the girl Hess raped in the park the evening before, and his motive behind the whole setup and how killing Hess would wind up as self-defense.
House on the Edge of the Park, or House of the Park on the Edge as the Italian’s translate it, is crude, cold, and bitter. Your left wondering how easily a night of sheer torture and random acts of violence can be commonly found in today’s society. In one of David Hess’ most demoralizing roles he doesn’t fail to give a 110% in this true display of Savage Cinema.
Facts about the Movie-
DeSelle and Radice made this film a year before Cannibal Ferox so all promotional material calling them Ferox Alumni is rather faulty. Hess claims that this film is the middle in his trilogy of sociopathic characters. With Last House on the Left (72) being first, and The HitchHike (77) being third. House on the Edge of the Park was released in 1980 so it is actually the third in final film in his trilogy.
Deodato claims that he was out of work for five years after the controversial release of Cannibal Holocaust in 1979, However his next film House on the Edge of the Park was released a year later in 80.
The film occasionally credited with a release date of 1984 was actually filmed in 1979 and released theatrically in 1980.
Running Time: 91 mins.
Language(s): Italian (English Dub)
Distributor: Shriek Show [A USA-Based Distributor]
Rating: UN - "Unrated. This film has not been rated by the review board."
Features: Anamorphic Widescreen; Interviews With David Hess and others; Original Theatrical Trailer
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