THE LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET (1977)
Article 5101 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Roger Watkins
Featuring Roger Watkins, Ken Fisher, Bill Schlageter
What it is: Exploitation horror
An ex-con with a chip on his shoulder decides to become a snuff filmmaker. When he is cheated by his producers, he decides to make them stars in his latest production…
My love for horror films has its roots in the experience of sitting in front of the TV on Saturday nights and watching old horror movies on my local Creature Feature. It did not grow out of the experience of sitting in grindhouse theaters to catch the most disgusting and exploitative examples of the genre that could be conjured up. And that’s why I never quite know how to react to movies like this where the sole purpose seems to be how best to disgust those who don’t like this sort of thing or pander to those who do; they align themselves with the exploitation film market, and I’ve never been big on exploitation myself. According to IMDB, the movie was made for 1500 dollars in 1972, then sat around for years before it was cut down to about two-fifths of its original length and released. All of the credits are pseudonyms, and it’s reputation thrived on the difficulty of seeing it, the rumor of it’s actually being a true snuff film, and the fact that for decades no one admitted to actually having been involved with the film. It’s exudes seediness and depravity, but I also feel there’s some slightly arty touches that do clue me in that it is, indeed, “only a movie”, and director Watkins does show a certain amount of skill given its budget. Apparently, the director felt that an ending voice-over that claimed the moviemakers (in the movie) were caught and punished for their crimes ruined the movie, and I suspect it’s because it has the air of making apologies for a movie that was meant to be unapologetic for what it was. In the end, however, I can’t say that I either enjoyed the movie or that it totally shocked my sensibilities; in the end, it felt just like another one of those movies that I had to get through to continue my series. And, as for the full 175 minute version that apparently exists, let’s just say the 74 minute version I saw was enough for me and I’ll leave that full print for someone who simply loves this sort of thing.