The Last House on Dead End Street/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
In a time when many infamous films of the past are now only classic films of a time long gone, there still are a few films that live up to their infamous reputation, this is one of them. Roger Watkins, with a minimal budget and some influence from the Ed Sanders book "The Family," a classic book about the life and times of Charles Manson and his gang (The original idea of this possibly being sparked from the "Getting the Fear" chapter which dealt with the rumors of snuff films being made by the Manson Gang), went onto create one of the most unique experiences in 70's Grindhouse cinema history. Dark and twisted, this was mainly filmed improvised with the original version running about 175 Minutes, a version that's no longer in existence, but even in its 78 Minute cut, the effect is very strong.
The story surrounds on Terry Hawkins (Watkins), released from jail and ready to spark more mayhem, using smooth talk to gather a small group of friends to help him make some "really weird" films when in reality would actually be snuff movies. The victims of this group are linked to one of the members of the gang meeting up with a play-around who's husband makes Porno films for someone who's not been very happy with his recent presentations and ready to check out what Hawkins has to offer. After finding out that Hawkins is not getting any credit for these films, he sets up a revenge for the trio who's luck just ran out finding out the hard way how he makes his films, with the gang caught in a Manson Family like state as whispers of "Terry is the way" can be heard in some moments, top honors going to Watkins in a classic over the top performance as well as to Ken Fisher as the Ex-Slaughterhouse worker and also to Pat Canestro who will forever be known as the "Deer Hoof Woman" in one of the final moments in the torture of the Porno Distributor, played by Steve Sweet.
The feel of the film is the ultimate example in a low budget actually creating some of the tension rather than showing a film's weakness. Although it's understandable that the off-center dubbing, mainly due to the carelessness of the person responsible for the theatrical edit, would be a major irritation for Watkins, it adds to the sleaziness of the film itself, a perfect example of the type of film that would lead to rumors and infamy. The music picked for the film is perfect, especially in the murder scenes, and the actors led by Watkins' classic performance are all great in this setting. The slight moment when things did not work at all was in the irritating ending voice-over inserted by the first Distribution company, who thought that some "Justice" to the story would redeem the sordid events within in the old Roadshow fashion when in fact that was a very dumb move in The Late 70's, but the action in the film was strong enough for the final words to be overlooked quickly while the heartbeats that start and end the film hammer in the final "Getting the fear" effect.
Last House on Dead End Street is one of the legends of Grindhouse Cinema history that should be experienced.
Reviewed by Screen13