Review

Shaun vs. Last House on Dead End Street (1977)

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An ex-con gets out of jail and decides to get back at the world by making friends with filmmakers and making his own snuff films. 


Directed by Roger Watkins (as Victor Janos)

Starring Roger Watkins, Ken Fisher and Kathy Curtin

To be quite honest, the history surrounding the movie is much more entertaining and comprehensible than the movie itself.  The director/star, Victor Janos, was an amphetamine addict and spent the bulk of the $3,000 budget on drugs and only used about $800 for the actual film.  He cast the film with current or former students of the theatre department at the university and when filming was done had a final run time of three hours!

Originally released in 1973, under the title of “The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell,” the film caused riots at the theatres in New York City and Chicago.  It was released again by a different distributor in 1977 under it’s more well known title “Last House on Dead End Street” with the running time significantly cut down to a barely tolerable 78 minutes.  The film was released in limited quantities on VHS and kind of disappeared for a while.

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During this time, the identities of the cast and director were hard to find out because everyone used a fake name.  Anyone trying to find them never could.  This led to rumours of the film containing real murders since it was such a small film with no identities of the cast to confirm or deny.  Of course, it’s all fake, but the title became a little urban legend in some cinema circles.  It wasn’t until the director came out of the woodwork in 2000 to reveal he wasn’t Victor Janus, but actually named Roger Watkins and was the mastermind behind “Last House on Dead End Street.”

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“I said I wanted final cut!”

So after all that, is the movie any good?  Hahaha, no.  First off, this is a surrealist film, admittedly not my type of film to get that out of the way, so it’s very oddball to start.  The film centers on Terry (Watkins) who just got out of jail for drug possession.  About half his dialogue is actually internal monologues about how shitty his life is.  Wanting to get back at society for his lot in life, he wants to make horror movies but to kill real people in them.  Sounds like a torture porn film, but the “artistic” choices done to make the film as it is, at least as far as being a horror film, don’t make a lot of sense nor is it any good.

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“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

The list of things that are terrible in the movie is quite long.  Even though the movie was filmed in English, the entire film is dubbed, which is a weird combination to have with the internal monologues.  It’s hard to tell if people were talking or thinking.  The acting is amateur, the pacing is off, the effects are bad aside from one gory scene where someone gets their legs cut off with a saw and gets her guts ripped out.  It was filmed terribly, but it’s probably the only scene I really enjoyed.  The film is quite boring and feels long even with the short running time, I can’t imagine the film being three hours long!  

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“Now…lick it….brilliant!”

The film had to resort to having scenes that were too looney to take seriously, though I can imagine it being unsettling 30 years ago.  There’s a party scene where a woman dresses in black face and gets whipped by a freaky midget.  Now that reads like something terrible, and of course it is, but it gets to the point of hilarity that she takes about a hundred licks and barely flinches.  She should be dead!  Maybe the most bizarre scene of all is when Terry and his friends kidnap the director and make him fellate a deer hoof from between the legs of a woman.  I have no idea where that came from or what kind of sense it makes.  Maybe it’s not supposed to but that’s what you’re getting into with this flick.  It’s absurd for the sake of being absurd, but it’s not scary.

So the movie is mostly bland, which is disappointing after reading about its notoriety, but that’s the only reason to watch it in the first place; to see people stoned trying to make an artsy horror film.     Watch at your own risk.

TL;DR

Story: 5 – Sadistic drug addict kills people for real in movies.  It sounds like it could be a gory treat if it weren’t for being a poorly made film in every respect.

Blood: 5 – Starts off lame but works it’s way to some decently gory stuff towards the end.

Nudity: 3 – Unsexy black and white stag flicks and rape scenes really turn me off.

Overall: 2 – A bizarre, hard to watch film, not because it’s graphic, but because it’s fucking awful in every way.

Trivia

-The movie derives its title from the film “Last House on the Left.”

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