Film Review: Last House On Dead End Street (1973)

Also known as: The Fun House, At the Hour of Our Death, The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell
Release Date: 1973
Directed by: Roger Watkins (as Victor Janos)
Written by: Roger Watkins (as Brian Laurence)
Music by: James Flamberg, Roger Watkins
Cast: Roger Watkins, Ken Fisher, Bill Schlageter, Kathy Curtin, Pat Canestro

Cinematic Releasing Corporation, 78 Minutes, 175 Minutes (lost original cut)


This is a motion picture with a really interesting history. It was made in 1972 and initially released in 1973 as The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell. This version was nearly three hours and supposedly caused riots in multiple theaters in New York and Chicago. The rumors of riots weren’t true but the film quickly disappeared, only to be re-released in 1974 as The Fun House. This version was half the length of the original cut. Then it was re-released again in 1977 under its most recognized title Last House On Dead End Street. The film primarily played in 1970s grindhouse theaters and never really got any sort of wide release.

During its theatrical runs, it was considered to be one of the vilest and most disgusting films ever produced. It developed a strong reputation for being nothing more than psychotic blood-soaked pornography. It was full of gore and nudity, guts and titties. If anyone even liked this film, they must be some sort of serial killer pervert. At least, that’s what its critics thought.

The film features lots of strangulation, repeated stabbings, limbs being sawed off, viscera being flung about and a man being killed with a power drill. It even has a woman using a severed deer’s foot like a penis, as a victim is forced to give it head. Yeah, the film is pretty fucked up.

The weird thing, is that this film disappeared for decades. Some people still talked about it. It got to the point where the film was almost a legend. People even argued if the thing ever actually existed. It became a myth.

But then it resurfaced. After that, the director claimed his work, as he directed it under a pseudonym. The cast also worked under pseudonyms. This added to the legend and mystery of the movie, in that many people thought it might legitimately be a snuff film.

The story of Last House On Dead End Street is pretty spectacular. But like most legends that eventually get exposed, the myth is often times a strong oversell.

Last House On Dead End Street was a festival of gore, once that part got going, but it was pretty uneventful until the last twenty minutes or so. And truthfully, there is just one really gory scene. Even though it was pretty intense, that scene didn’t live up to the legend that was built up in my mind for years. But it was certainly extreme for moviegoers in 1973. Also, who’s to say what was cut out of the three hour version.

The movie has a plethora of flaws. It is very poorly edited, to the point that there are a lot of brutal chops and not of the gory kind. It is also poorly shot. The lighting is bad and the cinematography apparently wasn’t even a concern for anyone working on this picture.

The sound is awful and for some strange reason, the voices are dubbed in bad English dialogue. The baffling thing, is this is an American movie, didn’t these people already speak English? Or was the audio handled so badly that they literally had to re-record all the dialogue?

The movie was still fairly interesting, however. It had my attention from beginning to end and I was never bored with it. I was really just waiting for the shit to hit the fan and it took a long time to get there. All in all, I would never want to revisit this film again. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the experience.

I’m glad that I finally got to see Last House On Dead End Street because most people will never watch it. It also ends years of trying to uncover the truth behind the legend. Although, I kind of feel like Indiana Jones spending a lifetime fighting Nazis and Soviets for some mythological treasure only to see it taken away by the damn government or CGI aliens in a flying saucer.

Rating: 2/10

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