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David E. Durston
Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury,
A young rich orphan loses his fiancée to voodoo doll mischief on the part of his housekeeper who is jealous of his attentions. He digs his girlfriend up, cleans her out, stuffs her, and ... See full summary »
An explicit thriller detailing the feasibility of producing and distributing snuff films, which are still only considered to be an urban legend. Driven mad by his failure to sell a ... See full summary »
After serving 1 year in jail a guy decides to repay the society by making some snuff-films. Four people are captured, tied up and held as material for his project. One by one they are killed in scenes for the camera. A woman has her limbs sawn of while he keep her concious. Another victim is killed by a power drill. Written by
Working titles for the film were "At The Hour of Our Death" (visible on the slate during the behind-the-scenes footage of the movie) and "The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell," which director Watkins said was inspired by the Kurt Vonnegut Jr. novel, "Mother Night." See more »
At 4.15, the cameraman's shadow is clearly visible on the dead girl's body. See more »
"You have either seen LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET, or you haven't."
No, no, NO, NO!! Listen not to the critics, my brethren: LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET may be the most important horror film you can seek out this summer. I will make one and only one apology for the film: It is either a "love it" or "hate it" affair. There is no middle ground, and that's a shame -- this is advanced viewing material that will leave casual watchers in it's dust. You watch it as a ritual, or rite of passage. The phrase should be:
"You have either seen LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET, or you haven't."
That may sound stupid & pompous, but then again this is one of the most rewardingly stupid & pompous movies ever made. Find me any 24 year old self-proscribed genius artist and likely 99% of what they create will come across as stupid & pompous. That is to be expected, and so you can't hold it against poor Roger Watkins for being true to his nature. For all he knew at Oneonta in 1972 he actually was the next Orson Welles and James Dean wrapped up into one chain smoking, leather jacketed, greasy haired, dope crazed maggot chattering on like a speed-freak chipmunk. That he created one of the most effective, disturbing and legendary horror films in history in such a state is proof that you're not bragging if you can do it, and he did it. Here is his 1%.
People will dislike this film, not because it is "evil" or "reprehensible" or "too real", but because it was filmed for less than $2000 and is self-consciously unpolished. The special effects probably "suck", in common Idiot Speak. The film also has no pretense of an artifice of reality: It is just as scummy, scuzzy, claustrophobic and idiotic as those plaid polyester suits we see characters wearing in the film. Fashions change and our sensibilities about "horror films" have evolved with thirty plus years of Jason Vorhees, Freddy Kreuger, Aliens, Poltergiests, Shinings, and other technically adept & bigger budgeted epics. But I wouldn't trade one frame of LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET's surviving 78 minutes for all of the SAWs, HOSTELs, WOLF CREEKs and other trendy junk horror breakfast cereal movies that owe their very core & fiber to Watkins' film. It got there first, it got there cheaper, it got there more directly and with less fuss, and is the stuff of legends. Those are entertainments for people numbed by five years of the War on Terror who want to *FEEL* something again when watching a movie -- After seeing 3,000+ people die live on TV, it's kind of hard to get worked up over any one person's fate, lest they be sliced in half while still alive to watch it happen to themselves.
Mr. Watkins had the same inklings in 1972 after seven years of carnage on the daily news courtesy of the Vietnam War, and his film is just as painful, wounding, confrontational, raw, unapologetic and disturbingly brilliant as it was then, even if the original 172 minute version called THE CUCKOO CLOCKS OF HELL is lost to all eternity. Together with Charles Manson (what company!) Watkins may have invented the urban legend known as Snuff Films, and at one point I was working on a thesis idea stating that people had seen this film and were so stupid or so overwhelmed by his film that they thought this was the real thing. Snuff is often associated with underground porno, a world in which much of this film is set, and Watkins himself went on to direct a string of under-achieving adult films that served to fulfill his own destiny as prophesized by LAST HOUSE. He knew exactly what he was doing.
It may take more than one screening since the film exists in a truly rotten state, as a series of grainy, under-lit, discolored full frame DVD versions padded out with bonus material and commentary tracks that like it's history will probably prove more interesting to many than the film itself. But for those with a taste for stark, raw, direct, unapologetic ultra-low budget Grang Guginol horror like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (which came a year after this was made) or the first EVIL DEAD film will be absolutely riveted by the concluding thirty minutes. The film starts slow, slowly builds it's tension by building a world of despair, then bludgeons viewers with a sledgehammer blow of gore, sleaze, trash, and filth that -- YES!! -- is made all the more potent by the ultra-low budget, tattered remaining print elements, and completely nihilistic air. Almost exhilaratingly nihilistic: Nick Cave fans will be in heaven.
So don't listen to the Negative Nellies in Sector Nine. Seek it out, watch it with friends, talk about it, and let it's images stay with you. They will: My favorite was of the cameraman smashing through a wall to film a murder, then laughing hysterically. The only reason I give it an imperfect score of eight is that I don't think Watkins pushed himself enough with his opening forty minute section, and didn't seem to know when to stop. The film ends in a manner that suggests that they simply couldn't afford to shoot any more scenes. Watkins was not responsible for the 78 minute cut, so many of his ideas are missing and might have answered some questions about the film. Yet in a way it's best that they are never answered, and that the film exists as a legend or an enigma that extends beyond the DVD versions currently available. Nothing could ever quite live up to such hype, and yet this does. Or doesn't. It all depends on your point of view, which in itself sort of proves that in the end, this is art. It isn't pretty and not everyone will like it, but sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbles.
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