The Video Nasties #92 – House on the Edge of the Park (1980, Ruggero Deodato)

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‘Are we gonna boogie?’

House On The Edge Of The Park feels like some kind of Video Nasty All-Stars. Behind that dreadful, unwieldy name we’ve got a movie from the director of Cannibal Holocaust and the stars of Last House On The Left and Cannibal Apocalypse/Cannibal Ferox. Despite this, the film falls well short of expectations.

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As is so often the case, it opens strongly with a sentimental ballad playing over a nighttime car ride, which ends in a brutal rape/murder from ol’ Krug himself, David Hess, playing another variation on his stock slimeball character. One year later – although it could be an hour later for all it matters – Alex (Hess) and his friend Ricky (Morghen) help a couple of rich jerks with their rich-jerk car and invite themselves along to their rich-jerk party. There, they begin to dance the night away, with Morghen’s crazed striptease prompting one guest to gasp, ‘Hot diggity!’.

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The score is pretty much wall-to-wall disco over these early scenes, giving the film a propulsive energy sorely lacking from the last hour, which is punctuated by long drawn out silences. Alex believes the yuppies invited them along to make fun of them, and so retaliates by taking charge, beating up the men and raping all the women.

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It’s a troubling, problematic movie with at least one scene where the rape victim seems to enjoy it, running her hands through Hess’ hair, passionately kissing him and even getting on top. Hess gives it his all as usual, going fully nude and spitting out his lines and pissing on rich folk while laughing like a pantomime dame.

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Honestly, he’s one of the few things worth watching, as the film devolves into one softcore fumbling after another. Things really take a savage turn when poor Cindy arrives at the door though. In scenes that are genuinely hard to watch, Hess strips her, humiliates her, then slices her breasts and thighs with a razor blade. It’s one of the most horrendous scenes in any Nasty, but Deodato somehow finds a way to make it even more appalling by intercutting it with a tender love scene between John Morghen and the woman he raped earlier!

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It’s a bewildering mess, but just wait – there’s a twist coming that is the cinematic equivalent of a giant forehead slap. You see, it turns out – give me a second, I’m trying to keep a straight face – it turns out that the whole thing was a setup. The girl murdered in the opening scene was one of the revelers’ sister, and somehow, a year later, they managed to trace the crime back to Hess. You would think that with a year to plan, they could have come up with a more accessible place to hide the gun.

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The twist raises an important question too – did anyone tell Cindy about the plan? Or did they just invite her round and neglect to mention that they were planning on shooting a rapist in the balls that evening? Because if they didn’t, then those are some poor friends. In fact, the whole thing was a total fucking disaster really. Four women sexually assaulted, one mutilated for life, and two men severely beaten and scarred. Maybe they should have just shot Hess when he walked in and saved themselves a lot of bother.

God, I wish they had.

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