‘It’s back! The evil that had you screaming… It’s only a movie!’
The Last House on Dead End Street is a 1973 horror feature film. It was originally released in 1974 as The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell and is also known as The Fun House.
Its 1977 re-release was delayed after one of the actresses apparently threatened to sue the director over the use of softcore footage filmed of her.
The story concerns a disgruntled man, recently released from prison, who takes out his anguish by making snuff films.
Few knew who actually directed the film until a man named Roger Watkins posted on Internet message boards in 2000 saying he was behind it. Watkins himself was not even aware the film had been released until someone on the street recognised him as “the guy from that movie that was throwing animal guts around”.
The film was virtually unavailable until a belated DVD release in 2001.
It is not to be confused with the myriad of ‘house’ films which appeared in the 1970s, including The Last House on the Left, even though some of the marketing utilised the same infamous tag-line “It’s only a movie”.
The film’s production was a virtual one-man band effort having been written, directed, produced, edited and starring Roger Watkins under a variety of pseudonyms:
Writer: Brian Laurence
Producer: Norman F.Kaiser
Director: Victor Janos
Editor: Brian Newett
The film has developed something of a reputation, often bundled into the furore surrounding supposed ‘snuff films’, though the mystique was accentuated by the long period it was only available on nth generation bootleg copies, only finally making an appearance on DVD in 2001, when Barrel Entertainment released a superb 2-disc set with many extra features, including a documentary on Watkins himself.
Heavily edited in its released form, the film relies far less on plot than the grisly set-pieces and hallucinatory creepy masks which still make it a required watch for fans of off-kilter cinema. It features a notorious scene showing a man forced to fellate a severed deer’s hoof, which is either the clincher for you to seek it out or your cue to check the weather.
The film is certainly a tough watch, not necessarily for the intended reasons, although its lack of a UK distribution meant that it was never necessary for the BBFC to act in any way in terms of bans or cuts at the time they were chopping their way through many genre films in the early 1980s.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA
“The movie looks and sounds not just cheap and amateurish but grimy and wrong. Technical shortcomings only add to the rank air of freakish believability. Nothing in the film looks like an actual snuff killing, yet the scum-bucket studio that later released the movie to theatres in 1979 certainly encouraged rumours that the killings were real. More than anything, the feral, disgusting people on-screen come off as legit.” Mike “McBeardo” McFadden, Heavy Metal Movies
There is a lengthy review and short interview with Roger Watkins in Nightmare USA by Stephen Thrower.
Buy Nightmare USA from Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation IndependentsAmazon.co.uk | Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation IndependentsAmazon.com