When fledgling director Wes Craven took this film to the MPAA, they slapped it with an "X" rating. Wanting an R for wider release, Craven went back and removed ten minutes of footage. However, this still wasn't enough and the film still got an "X" rating. Once again Craven removed footage, this time taking out 20 minutes. It still wasn't enough. Finally, Craven put all of the original footage back in, got an authentic "RATED R" seal of approval from the film board from a friend of his, put it on the film and released it.
When this movie was first released in '72, most critics found it disturbing. However, Roger Ebert gave it 3 and half stars and he got letters from people asking him how he could possibly support a movie like this.
In the 1980s, the American video versions contained additional text after the film had ended, reading: "Coming soon to a theatre near you. From the producers of Last House On The Left, and the director of Friday the 13th Part V, ... The Last House On The Left, Part II. You won't believe your eyes!" No sequel ever materialised.
This movie has been banned several times in the UK by the BBFC. Originally, in 1974, it was rejected for a cinema certificate. In 1984, it was banned again when it became a "video nasty", and remained that way until 2000, when it was once more rejected for a cinema release. In 2001, it was rejected and remained banned. Finally, a video version in 2002 was passed with around 30 seconds of cuts for an 18 rating, ending a 28 year streak of being banned. It was finally passed fully uncut by the BBFC in March 2008.
Due to his size Martin Kove was originally up for the role of Krug. However he declined it in favor of the smaller comedic Deputy role, and suggested his friend David Hess for the role instead. Hess wore extra padded clothes for the audition but was given the role anyway, as well as being offered the music score.
The film was seized by the Australian Customs Board in October 1991, after a package containing this film and several other banned titles was discovered. It was finally released in Australia uncut in November 2004.
The ads for this movie had a narrator saying, "...keep telling yourself..." then, an audience chanting over and over again "...it's only a movie" it was destroy muted by Amervlcan International Pictures in 1972.
The film was submitted for censorship in Australia in 1987 under the title "Krug and Company". The Australian Classification Board banned the film and responded with their reasoning as follows: "The Board of Review felt that, regardless of the degree of explicit sexual violence, butchery and cruelty remaining after heavy editing, the film is inherently so dehumanised and insensitive (and totally unrelieved by the inappropriate comic interludes) that release on video could not be justified. The Film Board of Review accordingly confirms the decision of the Censorship Board to Refuse to approve the classification of Krug and Company (aka The Last House on the Left) pursuant to Section 25 (3) of the A.C.T Classification of Publications Ordinance 1983."
The original script of the film was intensely pornographic, to the point of being absurd according to the stars, however the actors refused to do the film as scripted. The pornographic elements were cut from the script and the emphasis was instead placed on the shocking violence.
According to Wes Craven he never anticipated the extreme reactions that audiences would have to Last House on the Left. Audiences were said to have vomited, fainted, and (rumored to have happened to one unfortunate moviegoer) had a heart attack during initial screenings of the film.
Sandra Peabody was so genuinely frightened during shooting that she walked out on it one evening during production. Eventually the filmmakers caught up with her and convinced her to return and finish the film.
The scene when Weasel walks up to the apartment door when Krug knocks on the door, Weasel asks "Who is it?" In which Krug responds "It's J. Edgar Hoover.". J. Edgar Hoover was the first director of the FBI from 1935 until his death in 1972. He died on May 2nd, 1972, 3 months and 28 days before the film's release.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
On the R1 DVD one of the actresses claims that for the "piss yer pants" scene, real urine was used. However, this contradicts David Szulkin's book on the making of the film, which states that a wet makeup sponge was concealed in Lucy Grantham's jeans.
Wes Craven originally wanted Mari's father to kill Krug by slicing him multiple times with a scalpel during the climatic fight. Sean Cunningham insisted that the fight be more explosive and voted to have Krug killed with a chainsaw instead.
Originally the shot panning across the pond after the gang washes the blood off of them ended on an image of Mari, alive and clinging to a branch. The shot was altered to dissolve to the next scene when the movie was edited to have Mari's character never found alive.