As the title portends, LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH (LA SETTIMA DONNA) was an unabashed knock-off—one of many—of Wes Craven’s notorious LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (see also NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS, HOUSE BY THE LAKE, HITCH HIKE, THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK, etc).
The director Franco Prosperi is not to be confused with the other, better known Franco Prosperi of MONDO CANE, AFRICA ADDIO and GOODBYE UNCLE TOM infamy. No, this Franco Prosperi is known for helming forgettable spaghetti exploiters like SLAVE OF RIME, DEADLY CHASE, WHITE CANNIBAL QUEEN and the crummy film under discussion.
A trio of violent criminals have just robbed a bank. Seeking a place to hide out, they bust into a lavish beachfront home where the sweet Sister Cristina is rehearsing a production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM with five teen school girls. The robbers’ first order of business is to beat a servant woman to death with an iron, thus frightening Cristina and her charges into submission.
As the day stretches on the scumbags torment their captors in a variety of depraved ways, such as raping Cristina in her nun outfit. They also kill the local mailman and stash his body in a boathouse. Being a resourceful woman, Cristina tries to make alliances with her captors in an effort to splinter the group.
One of the schoolgirls attempts an elaborate water escape, while back in the house another gets her head bashed in. After finding the latter’s corpse Cristina decides she’s had enough, and forcibly fights back against her captors via gunshots and lethal injection…
Filmmaking-wise there’s not much worth discussing here. By exploitation movie standards the film is competently made but quite inert from a narrative standpoint, and completely lacking in tension. It’s extremely trashy, as you might expect, positively reeking of cheapness. It’s also slow moving and, surprisingly enough, fairly tame in its depiction of sex and violence.
Another distraction is the sound design, which as in most Italian productions was dubbed in during post production, a fact quite noticeable here (note the ludicrously over-amplified footsteps and slaps, as well as the hideously dubbed dialogue). Other problems? The “teenage” supporting cast all look to be in their twenties, the music is shrill and distracting, and director Franco Prosperi has an annoying penchant for unmotivated slow motion. By the time the heroine and her charges get around to dispensing their own brand of righteous revenge (in a sequence that appears to have inspired the final scene of Quentin Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF), it’s strictly a case of far too little, way too late.
LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH (LA SETTIMA DONNA)
La Magirus Film
Director: Franco Prosperi
Producer: Pino Buricchi
Screenplay: Romano Miglioni, Gianbattista Mussetto
Cinematography: Cristiano Pogany
Editing: Franco Malvestito
Cast: Florinda Bolkan, Ray Lovelock, Flavio Andreini, Sherry Buchanan, Stefano Cedrati, Laura Tanziani, Laura Trotter, Karine Velier, Annalisa Pesce