It's a little tough to watch House on the Edge of the Park and not see why many critics dismissed this as the "Italian Last House on the Left". I mean, both films feature David Hess as greasy yet somehow impossibly vulnerable sociopaths who get off on tormenting, raping, and torturing young woman. However, where LHOL gave us victims we empathized with to the point of disturbance, HOEP's "victims" are not only unsympathetic, we actually WANT to see them suffer, and it's this odd choice of characterization that makes HOEP more of a silly soft-core slasher and less of a Last House rip-off.
Alex (Hess) is first introduced during the film's opening credits sequence, where he rapes a young woman he's been following home, and strangles her in a fit of passion and rage. We flash forward an unspecified amount of time and see Alex and his best friend/toadie/of-mice-and-men-like-retard Ricky (the omnipresent Radice, in his first film role!) hanging out in Alex's garage. When a pair of socialites (Belle and Borromeo) pull in with car trouble, Alex and Ricky take care of them, and are invited to a little party at one of their rich friends homes. Alex and Ricky are more than glad to come along, and they are soon partying with a handful of snobby stereotypes (except for the bald black chick who looks like a stray extra from Blade Runner).
At first things are fairly innocent, with Ricky dancing like a fool for the rich kids, and Alex playing cat and mouse with the seductive Lisa (Belle). It's at this point we start to wonder a bit about who the bad guys really are. The rich kids make an amusement out of Ricky, while the temptress teases Alex to the point of getting him in the shower with her to wash her back, and then laughing at him as she leaves him holding the soap, so to speak.
When the posh bunch begin robbing Ricky blind during a fixed poker game, Alex finally loses his cool and yells at the snobs, only to be assaulted by a guy swinging a wine bottle. When Alex produces a straight razor from his pocket, however, the tables are turned, and the party guests are now party favors for Alex and the reluctant Ricky.
HOEP's comparisons to Wes Craven's disturbing and ultimately depressing Last House on the Left are rather unfair. While admittedly an important horror film, LHOL is not remotely entertaining, unless realistic rape and torture are your cup o' tea. HOEP, on the other hand, is actually kind of fun and vapid, like a good 80's slasher. Hess and Radice ham it up, while the cast of victims do one stupid thing after another to keep themselves trapped in the situation they were stupid enough to get themselves into in the first place (or were they??? hmmmmmm??) Add to that an irresistibly bad disco soundtrack, loads of hot naked chicks, and almost lethal doses of unintentional humor, and House on the Edge of the Park is clearly the more entertaining film.
Sure, some folks will see this as blatantly misogynistic tripe, but that's why it's so damn fun! This isn't a date movie, this is a trashy Euro-shocker that you watch after smoking skunk and drinking a six pack of Stella. Love it for what it is, baby!
Shriek Show's DVD is very solid stuff. While there aren't a ton of extras, there are three long interviews with Deodato, Hess and Radice that are very informative, as well as the legendary trailer and a bunch of other previews of cool Shriek Show releases. The picture quality is superb, and the mono soundtrack is clean and crisp. This is one of Shriek Show's better releases in terms of all around quality, and for fans of Deodato, Hess, and Euro-Shock, a no-brainer purchase.