Waiting Just For You

houseonedgeposter

It begins with a leisurely night drive and the ethereally beautiful theme song Sweetly by Riz Ortolani, setting us up for a feature-length sucker punch. David Hess stars as Alex (which is his middle name, by the way) a psychopathic auto mechanic who, along with his simpleminded sidekick, is invited by a couple of rich young customers to a party. Almost immediately, Alex begins to terrorize an brutalize his hosts and play sadistic psychosexual games with the women (including European softcore goddess Annie Bell, who seems to be the only one who’s not afraid of him). Hess is great of course, just as he was in Last House On The Left…he’s the grindhouse Burl Ives: a soulful singer-songwriter with a knack for portraying rat bastards. More troubling than the violence itself is the ambiguous morality…director Ruggero Deodato seems to want to toy with your sympathies and hidden desires, letting them shift back and forth from the mechanics to the rich kids, rest on both, or nowhere at all as you simply watch the horror unfold…even the sympathies of the victims and aggressors shift in an almost Stockholm Syndrome kind of way. House On The Edge Of The Park is a bit subtler and more finely crafted than Deodato’s most infamous creation Cannibal Holocaust…but left me with the same disquieting questions about Deodato’s intent: Is it all about shock? Titillation? Is it a statement about the human race’s razor-thin veneer of civility covering the savage instincts underneath? Or simply sick schadenfreude? Rarely does exploitation raise such questions, and make the viewer feel so guiltily complicit…It ain’t pretty but it’s art…

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