Last House on the Beach / La settima donna (1978)

3.5 out of 5

Ray Lovelock plays a handsome hoodlum who along with two utterly moronic partners-in-crime holds teacher/nun Florinda Bolkan and her nubile charges hostage at their own beach retreat after a botched and bloody bank raid. The resultant narrative is a nail-biting affair that lacks anything in the vein of the incongruous and clumsy comic relief interludes of Wes Craven's more famous 1972 film.

Like Meir Zarchi before him, director Franco Prosperi presents the two rape scenes in such a way that few people could find them anything but utterly repugnant or distressing. Thankfully they don't go on for anything like as long as Zarchi's. Of course, like most exploitation film-makers he's exploiting what he condemns: as with Craven, Zarchi and even old Michael Winner's infamous shockers the purpose is to get the viewer riled up into a state of vengeful fury, waiting on tenter-hooks for the inevitable cathartic payback. La settima donna certainly succeeds in this respect, although not anywhere near as skilfully or effectively as Lado's Late Night Trains.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics