HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980) – The Dungeon Review!

‘House On The Edge Of The Park’ was a recommendation left for me some time ago. Directed by Ruggero Deodato the man behind ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, I was all ramped up for some extreme violence. ‘House’ has its disturbing moments to be sure but the film is actually a slow boil and is almost gore-free. It is a film that definitely gets under your skin though.

Mechanic Alex and his friend Ricky invite themselves to the party of an attractive socialite couple after they pull into his garage with car troubles. When it becomes obviously that the group are having fun at their expense Alex lays siege and terrorizes the group. But the group of attractive well-to-do’s may have their own agenda.

In the films opening scene we see Alex forcing a woman to stop her car, who he then rapes and strangles to death. ‘House On The Edge Of The Park’ is a harsh film, make no mistake about it. But for a harsh film not all that much really happens. Alex is a rather unsavoury character, but the group of young, arrogant well-to-do’s don’t exactly garner any empathy. The only character in this film I had any sympathy for at all is Alex’s simple friend Ricky. Well, him and poor Cindy, the neighbour who drops by uninvited. Poor Cindy is in the films most brutal scene, and she even gets her own theme song. I was engrossed by the stark and brutal film style and it definitely has a sleazy exploitative quality. I did have some issues with ‘House’ however. I felt really annoyed by the group’s inability, or outright refusal to fight back. This is explained to some extent in the films ending but still didn’t work for me. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the ending. On one hand it does answer some questions, but on the other hand it poses a few new ones that are never answered.

The performances are pretty good. David Hess cuts an intimidating figure and is a memorable sociopath. Giovanni Lombardo Radice is convincing as Ricky, his dim-witted friend. He emulates Alex but is incapable of being his equal. This is clear in a scene where Alex insists he have his way with one of the women at the party. Ricky cannot bring himself to violate the shaking and crying woman. Annie Belle is spot on as the snobby Lisa and takes teasing to a whole new level. At one point in the film she actually invites Alex to shower with her and refuses to see it through.

It’s not much of a surprise when Alex goes ape shit on the group. It’s clear he hasn’t come for the martinis and the good company. The group have a lot of fun at Ricky’s expense, getting him drunk and then cheering him on as he does a striptease and then stealing all his money in a rigged poker game. Meanwhile Lisa is teasing the hell out of Alex, who all things considered, seems to be on his best behaviour. But his last nerve is trampled on and all shit breaks loose. Both male party guests have the snot beaten out of them. One of the guys is thrown into the pool to cool down and is then pissed on by Alex. He spends the rest of the film tethered to the leg of a coffee table. But it’s the women in the film that endure the real humiliation.

There is lot’s of nudity in this film. The camera lingers often on the naked bodies of its female cast. Even Hess gets naked. But if you are looking for a body count, you’ll want to look elsewhere. ‘House On The Edge Of The Park’s’ strong menacing atmosphere is quite effective but it is a little slower paced than I would have expected. The inability of the victims to fight back as well as an iffy ending did leave a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, but I still found the film strangely compelling. The films soundtrack is excellent and that Cindy Oh Cindy song still haunts me. The disc we rented had a lengthy interview with Hess that is actually quite interesting, as well as considerably shorter interviews with Giovanni Lombardo Radice and director Ruggero Deodato. Enjoy would be the wrong word to use here, but I actually liked this film. Recommended…with warning.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: David Hess, Annie Belle, Christian Borromeo, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Marie Claude Joseph, Gabriele Di Giulio, Brigitte Petronio, Karoline Mardeck, Lorraine De Selle

5 Responses to “HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. austinchef08 Says:

    Great review Goregirl!!! You capture the ambiguity of this film beautifully: Its not gory but its pretty damn disturbing. Obviously inspired by Last House on the Left, this one actually left a bigger impression on me (i.e., got under my skin more). Deodato definitely has his own distinct directorial style and I think its never more present than in this one.

    And lets face it, any movie that has David Hess in it is gonna be freaky and violent!!!

  2. I must admit, the only other film I’ve seen of Deodato’s is Cannibal Holocaust but his direction in this film is quite impressive.

    David Hess is intense. I’ve never seen his film ‘Hitch Hike’ but I think I’ll have to check it out.

  3. I was thinking the same thing reading that, that it has a Last House kind of vibe going on. I guess it goes to show that torture porn isn’t something new, but this one sounds like it could really get in your head.

  4. […] some great tension and suspense. Fans of horror will be familiar with the work of David Hess in House On The Edge Of The Park and Last House On The Left and the man is definitely on his game here as Adam Konitz. No one plays […]

  5. […] Hess of The Last House on the Left, House on the Edge of the Park, Smash Cut and Hitch-Hike directed To All a Goodnight! I definitely appreciate Hess more in front […]

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