The Last House on Dead End Street



IMDb Rating 5.1 10 2175

Plot summary

March 20, 2023 at 02:28 AM


Roger Watkins

Top cast

715.97 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 17 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Kelly G. 8 / 10

A gory nugget of gold lost on the dusty video store shelf.

Every fan of horror cinema enjoys searching the back recesses of their local video store looking for that those obscure little gems that they can call their own. "Last House on Dead End Street" is one of my favorite flicks, a movie so obscure, I've only been able to find it at one video store. (And I bought their copy when they went out of business, so THERE!)

This bargain-basement production has a small-time director of homemade porno films discovering that his distributor no longer wants to buy his movies, claiming that they are boring. Desperate to find something new, he discovers a brutal series of "snuff" films made by an ex-convict and his demented friends. Realizing that actual death on tape could be the next big thing, but unwilling to make a film himself, he steals some the convict's movies and takes the credit for himself. When the true filmmakers discover what happened, they kidnap both the thieving director, the distributor, and their respective wives for an evening of torture and humilation back at their wharehouse hideout, all of it to be captured on tape for another "snuff" film.

Sure this is disgusting with all manner of nasty acts committed by sleazy characters. But what makes this memorable in my book is its suprising sense of humor. This film about snuff directors is actually designed to look like a snuff film itself, with credits that consist entirely of pseudonyms, grainy handheld camera work, and even a movie box that is tailored to look homemade. It's that creepy attitude that, along with the look of the film, is something that just can't be duplicated. Happy hunting!

Reviewed by drownsoda90 10 / 10

One of the most unnerving films ever made--the "enfant terrible" of exploitation films

In 1972, Roger Watkins filmed this macabre picture about a disgruntled ex-con named Terry Hawkins who decides to kidnap four people and, with the help of his "crew" of movie makers, film their murders inside an abandoned building-turned makeshift studio. Originally running at almost three hours long, the film was re-titled numerous times and the original cut became a lost film, leaving us with the 78 minute "Last House on Dead End Street" as we know it today.

Quite frankly, this is maybe the most nihilistic film I have ever seen. It parallels works like Wes Craven's "Last House on the Left" in both title and grisliness, but it's about ten shades darker because, unlike in that movie, there is no subtle humor here to provide even the slightest relief; there is no safety in this film.

Like many have said, the entire film plays out like a bad dream, and even worse than that, it's a bad dream that looks like a Manson family home movie. The narrative is basic, almost skeletal, but that's not really the point of the film- what we have here ultimately is a stylish exercise in unease and demoralization. The film was made, literally, on less than a thousand dollars (Watkins admitted he used a great deal of the film's budget to buy drugs), and amazingly is not brought down by its budgetary shortcomings.

The photography in the film is apt and sometimes borders on surreal, with the camera following Hawkins and his group of hippie auxiliaries; armed with hand-held cameras, they don sinister translucent doll faces and oversized Zardoz masks as they gallivant through the abandoned building, torturing and killing their abductees. The self-reflexive murder scenes are indisputably the hallmark of the picture, and they are grotesque; drills, amateur surgeries, and branding sticks- need I say more? It is horrendous and shockingly realistic even today, so it's no wonder that it was rumored to be real thirty years ago.

If the trippy visuals and macabre murder sequences aren't enough to perturb, the nightmarish sound design is. According to the director, the soundtrack and sound design was comprised of stock music and soundbites which were purchased for less than a hundred bucks from a New York sound company. Had I not been made aware of this, I would have never had a clue, because the sonic makeup of the film is actually quite sophisticated. Granted, the dubbing is not great (yes, the film was dubbed), but the haunting choral score and orchestral musical accompaniment add a whole other layer to the film. The expansive, ethereal ambiance that is evoked from the score is in sharp contrast with the claustrophobic world of grit, grime, and grisliness on screen, and the film packs even more of a wallop because of it; the eerie score is punctuated by borderline-Socratic voice overs from Hawkins as he audaciously affirms his convictions.

Given the resources used to make this film, it truly is an incredible achievement. In spite of the dirt around the edges, it is well-made and almost spiritually disturbing, but above all else, it is an unusually insightful film that has more substance than one would expect or demand from an exploitation flick. "The Last House on Dead End Street" is perhaps the most unnerving and haunting film I have ever seen. It is a living, breathing nightmare, a meditation on death and power, and an exposition of depravity. 10/10.

Reviewed by jpilkonis 10 / 10

Why this movie is scarier than anything you've ever seen before...

You'll read plenty about the background of this movie, how it was nearly lost, miraculously saved and lovingly restored. You'll read about the trials and travails of Roger Watkins in the making of this film (much of it revealed by the excellent deluxe edition DVD release; nice work, Barrel Films). But what you might not read about is exactly why this film works as well as it does.

The thing is, it really shouldn't work at all. The viewer should be scoffing and snorting from scene one at the appalling acting, the flimsy plot (especially in the first half of the film, where the plot has to hold us), the muddy sound, poor lighting, and so on. This film should be dismissed out of hand and roundly ignored.

Just try it.

If you allow yourself to be carried off into this film, however, you'll find something so utterly engrossing, so roundly terrifying, that you may very well have to tell yourself, "It's only a's only a movie." In its weird, hell-bent way, the film's inadequacies trap the viewer in the madness on the screen. Unlike a normal slasher film, the viewer doesn't get a chance to step out of the horror to rate the special effects, or even to laugh at the badness of the thing. This movie grips you by the throat and doesn't let go.

I've read comments about this film saying that the first half of this film is the worst horror film you'll ever see and that the second half is the best horror film you'll ever see. That's a very accurate assessment, and it's this aspect of the film which adds to its impact. By the time the real horror starts, the viewer is unprepared for its intensity.

Watch this film in a dark room, all alone. Let this film pour over you and drown you in its madness, and it'll scare the hell out of you more effectively than anything else you've ever seen. This movie is unique. There's nothing else like it, nor will there ever be.

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