Thursday, February 17, 2011

House On The Edge Of The Park

House on the Edge of the Park
Dir: Ruggero Deodato

Ruggero Deodato immediately followed up the controversial Cannibal Holocaust, with the mean-spirited rapefest, House on the Edge of the Park. Eight years after Last House On The Left, David Hess marks his return to forced entry before the opening credits even begin. When a ride down the freeway turns into a nightmare for a young woman when she catches the eye of Alex, who is driving alongside her.

 It doesn't take long before Alex has her car cornered and scares the shit out of her before raping her, and leaving her for dead. He extracts a trophy in the process.

It isn't long before he is getting ready to go out again. But not before performing a last minute car repair for a young couple. Who invite Alex and his not altogether there friend Ricky to a "get together" that they are headed to.  Note that Alex has already donned the trophy necklace that he stole from his victim. Also it's important to gather that Alex grabs a straight razor at the last minute.

It doesn't take long for Alex to appraise the situation at the house. Ricky is incited to dance wildly despite Alex's disapproval. He knows that these rich socialites look down on him and his friend. However, he is determined to make the best of the situation.

Shower hijinks ensue. Here we get a good look at the lovely Annie Bell, who as the character of Lisa, mercilessly teases Alex. This is a highlight of the film for me. Not only do we get a guilt free view of a beautiful woman (nothing is forced here), it is also one of the few times that Alex is denied, and he accepts the denial (albeit briefly). It's hard to feel bad for a rapist. Anyhoo, before long, Alex is left alone to nurse his boner.

 At this point, the tone of the film shifts. Not only is Alex sexually frustrated, but his pride is hurt. On top of that, he comes downstairs to discover Ricky (who is an innocent) being fleeced at a game of poker. His hosts, sensing his growing anger, initiate a physical attack, this does not end well for the spoiled socialites.

Ricky, like an overexcited dog, gets caught up in the moment. Needless to say, as long as Alex is in the house, chaos will reign, as his id begins to rage more and more out of control.

 Alex incites Ricky to rape Gloria.  And despite terrorizing her, he proves unwilling to commit this act of violence. This disgusts Alex to no end.

 At this point Alex is thoroughly disgusted with Ricky, and begins to prowl the rooms for his next victim. Unsuprisingly,  it is Lisa who he chooses, as he leaves Alex downstairs to keep the rest in line. He takes Lisa upstairs, which in a strange turn, seemingly ends consensually.

 Gloria makes a run for it, and Ricky catches up with her. And at this point, something remarkable happens. Gloria takes Ricky by the hand and leads him into an act of consensual sex. It is a turning point for his character.

 As Ricky finds forgiveness, and redemption. Alex is simultaneously growing more and more out of control. As he inflicts his will on all those around him. Including a late arrival to the house, Cindy.

 As Alex toys with and tortures his female victims breast. The exact opposite is happening not  too far away. As Ricky is caressed and reassured by Gloria. Allowing her to assume the dominating position in their tryst. It would be easy to dismiss The House On The Edge Of The Park as a vile rape fantasy, but this scene in particular is well handled, and carefully edited. It is clear that it was important to Deodato that the contrast between Ricky, and Alex could not be made any clearer.

 Back at the house, defying all logic, Ricky and Gloria return, to attempt to talk some sense into Alex, and letting everyone go. But at this point it is clear, that Alex is too far gone. His dark nature is in full bloom and has taken over both himself, and everyone else in the house.

 And to demonstrate the fact that Alex is having none of it. He begins to slice into poor Cindy, who moments earlier revealed that she was a virgin. Alex tarnishes and dirties everything he lays his hands on.

Eventually things take a surprising turn for Alex, and Ricky. The House on the Edge of the Park is not always easy to watch. But well worth checking out. It is a well put together film that sees Ruggero Deodato, shift from filming in the wide open fields of the Philippines to an almost claustrophobic environment with someone much more wicked than mere cannibals at the heart of it.

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