Last House On Dead End Street - Roger Watkins (1977)

A lot of people talk about snuff movies, this urban legend running for years about amateur movies showing real murders on screen. But what is really a snuff? Because if it's only a murder caught on a tape, we can witness a lot on the magic box called TV. Is the video of the bullet passing through Kennedy's head a snuff? Is the exploded skull of Budd Dwyer in a live conference on TV a snuff? Or the videos of executions live from death rows, the defenestrations of a hundred of people from the 11/09 are snuff? Most people would say no. Maybe so it's a movie showing a chosen victim suffering, screaming to death under torture, showing visually shocking and repulsive details... Mondo films, like the most famous one « MONDO CANE » from 1962, are considered as the snuff pioneers I guess, as for many years people thought these fake documentaries about violent rites from old tribes were real. Such as all the trials and rumors about CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST or japanese GUINEA PIG series, especially the first two The Devil Experiment and Flower Of Flesh And Blood. In the 80s, tape trades had become the number one hobbie for the rare and extreme movie collectors, and Guinea Pig's were receiving a good success due to the controversy around the veracity or not of the murders and tortures. Fall of the 80s, this film series gained notoriety with the arrest of a japanese serial killer TSUTOMU MIYAZAKY, gore films addict and especially of Guinea Pig, the fourth volume had been found in his giantic collection made of thousands of tapes, then in 1991 when Charlie Sheen (Platoon, Hot Shots, you know...) denouced ''Flower of Flesh And Blood » to authorities, the director had to prove all the cast was still alive. But these last years, the buzz surrounding snuff movies is bigger than ever, thanks to the internet, where we can find and broadcast videos as easily as spitting on the floor. Ive heard a lot these times about so called real videos of ''bum fights'', these clandestine fights where homeless people beat each others to death like modern urban gladiators. The thing is that I've searched a lot but never found any vbum fights videos that seemed real. Urban legend or weird reality? Both wont estonish me. «What this son of a bitch is talking about anyway? » you're probably sayin'. Here it comes.

More than 30 years after its release (officially from 1977, even if the film was ready since 1973), LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET has earned a cult film status in the underground, and this for many reasons. First of all, until recently, no one knew who really directed this movie, and we only know the truth a few time before ROGER WATKINS' death, who says many times on the internet he was actually the director. Secondly, all the stuff said about the violence of the flick, the rumors after the midnight showings in dirty filthy theatres, gloomy drive in, and tape nights where young adults asking for more brutal and sadistic visions met. Last House On Dead End Street was introduced – and you can still see the words on cassettes and dvds covers – as « the most vile and disgusting film ever made ». The kind of shit that everyone knows what its all about, but none have seen it or find it to really see what was hiding behind the myth. Thirdly, because of the quality of the picture, close to amateurism, of the too-real atmosphere of the crimes and tortures and of the subject : snuff movies.

Terry Hawkins (played by ROGER WATKINS) just goes out of the joint for drug possession, hatred is rotting his guts and he wants to find a way to make his revenge, he doesn't know well against who or what, but he's sure of one thing : somebody gotta pay. He decides to take his revenge against his old partners, all in the grimmy cheap porn milieu. These gays have not much to do with his arrest, or it is not said clearly, but Terry's mind is fucked up and his thoughts are a mess. He succeed to bamboozle two guys and two girls as an Evil guru (Charles Manson, anyone?), and encourage them to help him directing « real snuff movies », where « stars » would be persons having no direct link to them. After a beginning quite long, Terry and his 'partners' kidnap four Terry's old friends and bring them to the ''House'', which is actually not a real house but an abandoned warehouse, and which is not the last, neither in a dead end as the title could let us think. Yeah, the title was surfing on the success of Last House On The Left released few years earlier (strangely, some versions of Dead End Street were known and sold under the names Fun House or Cukoo Clocks From Hell). 

Terry ties the four victims in the warehouse, and from that moment until the end of the movie follows my favorite scenes. What i forgot to tell you is, by lack of money i presume, their wasn't any sound takes during the shooting, so all the voices and sound effects were added during the editing. It gives to the film a creepy as fuck atmosphere, like all the voices were coming straight from Terry's head, with a distorted echo and bloodcurdling noises. The whole pack, with fucking weird masks on, comes with a camera in front of their victims and begins their humiliation series. An anthologic scene marked me. A woman is standing up with no shirt, his big breast out and a creepy smile in front of her prey, starts to unbutton her fly and lets appear a motherfuckin' deer leg, like a giant penis taking a breath! Surreal. Terry and his partners force the guy to suck the deer leg like a whore, he loves it so much to watch his actresses on his fuckin cheap porn sets. Then tortures, murders and gore scenes worthyof HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS' ''Blood Feast'' follow.

This is certainly not the best film ever, the directing is bad, actors will never win oscars and the picture is kind of shitty, but despite that LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET is a real disturbing movie and, by his defaults, succeeds to win points for its twisted, sick atmosphere, in particular for the voices with echos, psychopathic masks, bad quality of the picture as a bloody amateur film, and all this make Dead End Street a cult movie. Just for the anecdote, Roger Watkins had had 3000 dollars to shot the movie, but he spent so much money in dope, he finally used only 800 dollars, and was constantly on amphetamine to direct Last House On Dead End Street..


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