The Last House on Dead End Street (1977) Movie Review
Written By: K.M.C
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Roger Watkins (Victor Janos)
Producers: Roger Watkins
Writers: Roger Watkins
Date Released: May 1, 1973
Roger Watkins as Terrance “Terry” Hawkins
Ken Fisher as Ken Hardy
Bill Schlageter as Bill Drexel
Kathy Curtin as Kathy Hughes
Pat Canestro as Patricia Kuhn
Steve Sweet as Steve Randall
Edward E. Pixley as Jim Palmer
Nancy Vrooman as Nancy Palmer
Rating = 2.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
After being released from jail on account of drug charges, Terry Hawkins convinces himself that people seek more shocking and extreme films. Hawkins then decides to gather an ameteur production crew and starts to film real snuff films. As his vision becomes reality, the horrors of his actions within the film start to spill into reality as he affects more people than just his victims in his films.
There is one scene in particular that puts The Last House on Dead End Street high up on the gore scale. Although the rest of the movie has no snippets of blood gushes, the combination of one throat slash with this particular scene encompasses exactly the right amount of gore that should be incorporated into the film.
The Grave Review
There are many interesting aspects to The Last House on Dead End Street that rank it one of the most disturbing, disorienting, and arthouse-centered films pertaining to its decade. At first, the audience is made to believe that this is a slow drag film encompassed by terrible ad-lib, sexual perversion, and half-lit shots that give it its artistic flare. But as the film goes on, it starts to transgress social boundaries from black face to non consensual sexual acts that perhaps during it’s time, would have gotten a few furroughed eyebrows but for todays audience, would cause upheaval. The inspiration of the film is from Charles Manson’s killing sprees, so it’s no wonder the audience feels uneasy after watching it.
Originally screened as The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell and released as The Fun House, The Last House on Dead End Street recognition not only for the plot, but also due to the fact that no one knew who the actual director was. All of the names in the credits are pseudonyms. No one knew who the real director was until Watkins came forward in 2000. Watkins even noted that he was not aware the film had even hit the big screen until 1979.
It’s important to note that the film was a product compiled by former and current university students, university stock music, and university equipment under a $3,000 budget. In fact, $2,000 out of the $3,000 budget was spent on amphetamines during production which is why the disorienting factor is more real than fictional. Although the film is problematic and disturbing on many levels, it is an impressive work given these low-budget circumstances. People even started to speculate that the killings were real because of how no one was being identified in real life. The film’s distributor encouraged this in order to get more notoriety. Which is one of the many reasons why the film is still relevant to this day even though the rumors were debunked years later.
The film would have made a greater impact if it wasn’t for the poorly edited ad-lib. Aside from this major aspect, the acting was sub-par and even frustrating, given that the actors could have taken their scenes by the horns and gotten their fiery shining moments. The use of light, articulately curated shots, aggressively shocking acts, and impressive costuming is what gave The Last House on Dead End Street it’s spot in the art-house world.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives The Last House on Dead End Street (1977) two and a half graves out of five graves.
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