Notorious debut for Wes Craven had everyone up in arms upon its initial release in 1972 (so much so that it was cut to ribbons by everyone who had scissors handy making it one of the hardest films to get a complete version of) but seen today it's not quite as shocking though there is a mood of unpleasantry and discomfort throughout most of the mid-section.
Two teenage girls (Sandra Cassell and Lucy Grantham) head off to Manhattan to see a concert and end-up being kidnapped by a gang of escaped cons led by the off-kilter Krug (David Hess, who also supplies the awesome soundtrack) when they try to score some "weed". Soon they've been humiliated, raped and beaten by the gang and end-up, in an ironic twist of fate, in the woods right by the one girls house after the car they're in breaks down.
There's even more depravity when the girls try to escape that peak with their drawn out and disturbing deaths (we get to see multiple stabbings and a sick "name carving" moment). They end-up getting theirs though when they go stay at the home of one of the murdered girls parents (who find out and head-out for brutal revenge).
While a bit dated in the dialogue department at times this is one Hell of a powerful movie. This one is definitely not for all as the crude filmmaking styles employed (which Craven has said is more of a fluke than actual talent) make what could've been just a regular exploitation flick into something that has been talked about for thirty-plus-years. The fact it all happens so close to home only helps intensify the film and strong performances by Cassell (who's character takes about as much, if not more, abuse than Marilyn Burns' in Texas Chain Saw Massacre), Fred Lincoln as "Weasel" and the aforementioned Hess (He's the man!).
This is an important snapshot of Craven's career and of the decade it was made and you'd be hard pressed to find movies that reach this level (though I Spit On Your Grave jumps to mind instantly). Now if they'd only get rid of those damn annoying comic relief policemen, they completely throw the movie off track. Craven has said he based this loosely on Ingmar Bergman's 1960 film, The Virgin Spring.
Directed By: Wes Craven.
Written By: Wes Craven.
Starring: Sandra Cassell, Lucy Grantham, David A. Hess, Fred Lincoln.