LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT Star David Hess Dead at 69
David Hess would have gone done in history as one of the slimiest creeps in the movies if he had appeared in nothing except the 1972 rape and revenge classic LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT as the repellent lead villain Krug. Director Wes Craven’s first film was one of the most notorious movies ever made, offending nearly everyone who saw it, and 40 years later, it hasn’t lost any of its edge. (Garrett Dillahunt was actually fine as Krug in the 2009 remake but any actor would have come off as Mr. Rogers compared to Hess’ sadistic portrayal). His character is so brutal and abhorrent that even his fellow murderers are afraid of him. In one of the movie’s most memorable scenes, Krug orders one of his accomplices, more precisely his own son (played by Marc Sheffler) to “…blow your brains out!”, at which point the terrified kid shoots himself in the head. Hess unofficially recreated the character for two more films well worth tracking down. In Ruggero Deodato’s HOUSE BY THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980) Hess was a razor-wielding psycho terrorizing and raping a group at a high society party and was at it again as another rapist-psycho in the exploitation “road-thriller”in HITCH-HIKE (1977). His other film roles included another villain in Craven’s SWAMP THING (1982) and as one of the doomed Israeli athletes in the terrorist docudrama 21 HOURS AT MUNICH (1976).
Less known about David Hess is that he began his professional career as a songwriter. Using the pseudonym David Hill, he composed “Start Movin'” for Sal Mineo and “Rockin’ Shoes” for the Ames Brothers. He penned tunes for Elvis Presley through the 1950s and 1960s, including hits “Come Along” and “Sand Castles.” In 1963, Hess wrote “Speedy Gonzalez” for Pat Boone, which became a #6 hit single and composed songs for LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Hess was a fixture at horror movie conventions and in 2005 I had the honor of viewing his personal 16mm print of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT while he, and the three actors who played the other killers, delivered a live running commentary. David Hess died yesterday (10/8) of a heart attack at age 69.