Male Gazing: “House on the Edge of the Park”


Annie Belle tempting David Hess in House on the Edge of the Park


If you were producing a twisted, psychosexual thriller 45 years ago, your go-to-actor to play the bad guy had to be David Hess. Lantern-jawed, dark, and muscular — but with a crooked smile and threatening leer — Hess resembled an archetypal hero who was just a bit … off.

Think what you will of movies like Last House on the Left and House on the Edge of the Park, there is no denying the power of Hess’s performances. When it came to playing villainous creeps, he had the acting chops.



It just so happened that he was routinely cast in low-budget films that are now more infamous than famous.

Long before the era of “intimacy coordinators,” Hess was humiliating female co-stars on screen by teasing, torturing, and — if Hess’s own words are to be believed — occasionally enjoying unsimulated sex with them.



In House on the Edge of the Park, Hess enacts a story-opening rape scene … with his real-life wife, actress Karoline Mardeck (above and below). Hess rips off her clothes, briefly exposing her full-frontal nudity.



Hess was then asked to: 1) simulate sex with co-star Annie Belle in a scene that he described as not simulated; 2) tear off the clothing of black actress Marie Claude Joseph, revealing her breasts; and 3) strip and torture a “virgin” blonde played by petite Brigitte Petronio.

Italian director Ruggero Deodato seemed hellbent on ensuring that viewers got full-nude views of every actress in the cast. This parade of female nudity commences after Hess’s character and his mentally challenged buddy turn an innocuous suburban party into a harrowing home-invasion.

It’s difficult to imagine the following scenes in today’s Hollywood, in which political correctness rules. All the scenes involve the physically imposing Hess:


Scene 1:  Hess assaults real-life wife Mardeck. Oh, to be the proverbial fly on the wall when this rape scene was choreographed by Mr. and Mrs. Hess and director Deodato.



Scene 2:  Hess tears off the top of actress Marie Claude Joseph, who is inexplicably bald. He later corners her and gropes her breasts. She is inexplicably nonplussed.



The video:


Scene 3: Belle seduces Hess by allowing him to grope her at the party and then showering in front of him. Eventually, they wind up in the sack.



The videos:



Belle, perhaps realizing her mistake in not contributing any crotch scenes in House on the Edge of the Park, atoned for that inexcusable error a few years later in 1984’s The Alcove (below).



Hess plays an excellent cad. Seems like he might have been one in real life, as well, judging from some of his comments about his notorious sex scenes.


From an interview with Hess about House on the Edge of the Park


Question:  “Out of the other cast members, who really sticks out in your head?”

Hess:  “Annie Belle, who played Lisa. She was just this crazy, little, young, and wonderful kind of actress that had no predispositions about what to do or what not to do. As long as there’s a sheet, let’s fuck! Literally.

“Anything that went on between Annie Belle and I, even on the screen, was real.”



From an interview with Hess about his rape scene with actress Sandra Peabody (Sandra Cassel) in Last House on the Left


Hess: “I scared the living shit out of her, man. She really thought I might — I started to pull her pants down and grabbed her tits and everything.

“Pulling her pants off, right? And then drooling in her face, which I did intentionally. It just so, it humiliated her. There was all of a sudden this look. It would have been easy to fuck her, right there on the set. I mean, because she really gave in.”


Scene 4: The only sequence not directly involving Hess. His pal “Ricky” assaults actress Lorraine De Selle, who later enjoys consensual sex with him. Yes, you read that right: consensual.



Scene 5: Poor Brigitte Petronio. Her character inadvertently walks into the home invasion. She is then stripped, groped, and tortured by Hess while other members of the cast bear witness.



The video:



House on the Edge of the Park predates home-invasion movies like The Strangers, but with several twists on the formula. For one, the villains do not target their prey and then break into the house. They are invited to a party.

The surprise revelation at the end of the film works well even though, in retrospect, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

But thanks to copious, often gratuitous female nudity and Hess’s amusing scenery chewing, this house party from hell is never dull.


Director: Ruggero Deodato   Cast: David Hess, Brigitte Petronio, Annie Belle, Karoline Mardeck, Lorraine De Selle, Marie Claude Joseph, Giovanni Lombardo Radice  Release: 1980


(Credit to AZNude for the videos)


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