Last House on the Beach (La Settima Donna) (1978) Reviewed by Bryan Schuessler
Last House on the Beach is the story of a group of men that go and rob a bank, drive until they find a secluded and very large seaside villa on the top of a hill, along the lovely coast. Once they break into the house, they find it is the home of a nun and a dozen young girls who are there to study for school. The gang of robbers soon find themselves taking out their sexual fantasies and frustrations on the helpless young girls and their nun!
The film really has an all-star cast, in terms of cult and horror icons, including Ray Lovelock (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) as Aldo the leader of the gang, Florinda Bolkan (Flavia the Heretic) as the nun, Sister Cristina and co-stars Laura Trotter (Nightmare City) and Sherry Buchanan (What Have They Done to Your Daughters?). The films’ title is definitely trying to capitalize on Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left’s success and title, and this film would possibly be its European counterpart if it were much more violent and bloody. I think that the film falls flat in regards of its depravity, violence, and levels of nudity/sex. EuroSleaze such as Last House on the Beach were so rampant that a large portion of them seem quite repetitive, as did this one. The pace of the film and the amount of action was just too slow for me at times. Also, the action in the film was lackluster in terms of style and panache. The film just overall fell short in shock-value and keeping things interesting for the viewer.
There was one particular camera shot that really downshifted itself from being really artistic to just being straight-up annoying. The camera starts off by going around the room, stopping for a second in a close-up at one actress, then on to another, then on to one of the bank robbers, then back to another of the actresses, then back to another, and so forth and so on, all during one particular scene, filmed as if it was to be the most intense portion of the whole film. I wanted to just scream because it was a scene where the nun is forced to undress and put on her nun wardrobe with all the girls and all the robbers watching, but the director never even had the camera show all of the actual undressing,only her breasts! They showed everyones’ shocked reaction, but no titillating nudity. It was just a tease!
The film just had too many slow points in it that were uninteresting and a little bit boring. When you have all the action of film taking place in one setting, such as this beach house, you need to have interesting dialogue or some violence, blood, gore or just plain old sex and nudity, especially if the film is going to be an exploitation picture of any kind. The film just did not have enough of any of the aforementioned categories. I was quite a bit disappointed in the film overall.
If you want to call this a nunsploitation flick, aspects of it were, but I can think of quite a few other films that have far more exploitation of nuns in them, particularly many of the Japanese films exploit nuns fairly well, such as School of the Holy Beast or Wet & Rope, to name just a couple.
I think director Franco Prosperi made some masterpieces with Mondo Cane and Africa Addio, but this film could have been much better if he upped the ante in the gore, violence, and nudity department. The film showed a large amount of point-of-view camera shots involving the robbers beating on the women in the film, some very stylized shots with the camera for some of the final shots of the film, and those were some nice scenes of cinematography, and it should be noted that the film was shot very well and technically speaking, I enjoyed the artistic shots most of all. The pace of the film just had some scenes that the dialogue just fell flat on in some cases, failing to intrigue the viewer. Cristiano Pogany was responsible for the camera-work and he did a very fine job.
There were a large amount of rape scenes in the film, so if misogyny is not your bag, then this film may not be for you, either. I guess you can’t have an exploitation film of any kind with a bunch of women and no rape. Last House on the Beach tried to shock the audience with its rape scenes, violence, and scenes of humiliation but it just did not make the cut in my book. It was better than average in terms of style and technical aspects, but fell a little bit short in the plot and script. I was hoping for more nudity, violence, and gore.