Last House on Dead End Street – Last Call Theater Special!
Damn right, he was Directing the Moo-vay!
Manchester, Conn. – 5-6-77
Roger Watkins’ infamous Cuckoo Clocks From Hell better known as Last House on Dead End Street seriously is one of the greatest examples of what I call Last Call Theater – a film made in 1972-3, held up due to trying to find a distributor and problems with one of the actresses in the film, and winding up with a low-level distributor by 1977 during Grindhouse’s End when many of the smaller screens were trying to fill some seats, and then winding up with cinematic Releasing who had connections to Sun Video who released the legendary tape some of us grew up with.
Unlike many older films from the past getting a few dates here and there, or some Imported Horrors that arrived a little too late to join in the fun of 74-5, LHODES, or the Fun House as it was first promoted under, was all-new for the time and one of the jaw-droppers who’s credits were all fake which left a legend that was uncovered only through the DVD age. Even the Three Houses of Hell show that was playing like crazy of the Blood Trilogy which appeared at Drive Ins on a regular basis seemed quaint compared to this outburst.
The extreme Horror of Last House on Dead End Street fitted perfectly with the New York City of the Late 70’s, the ran down houses in the smaller towns, some small theater desperate to fill seats (sometimes in the Strip Malls), a Downtown theater usually right next to a theater showing something like Bruce Vs. Bruce, an SRC re-issue of some Schoolgirl Report flick once released by Hemisphere under a different name, or some other true Last Call classic, an occasional once-glorious movie theater like the ones in Chicago and Miami which had a way to make it look more extreme, and finally the days your Mom and Pop stores which were desperate to fill the shelves enough to get lucky with the Sun Video release of this title. It had a few good play dates, but this was a film that was really right for the darker side of the American Cinema industry.
This movie was Danger, and by the time the classic Halloween showed up for a cool and very playable style of Horror, this was even more of an underground-style trip considering it’s ultra low- budget, raw style, and the growing myths surrounding it. John Carpenter whipped up a film for everyone, but who was this Victor Janos that made this extreme freak-out that was perfect for the extreme team? To whip up Michael Weldon’s classic question, would you have even admitted to seeing it then?
6-8-77, Alameda, CA
…and West Palm Beach
in Chicago, this appeared with a few screenings of Lucio Fulci’s The Psychic – making that Eibon Symbol from Fulci’s The Beyond link with LHODES in a strange and cool way!
10-11-79, the choice of Trouble Brewin’ as the cartoon short was possibly a perfect choice at this Ukiah, CA Drive in!
10-12-79, The next day, this short run would be replaced with a Mexican Biker Horror film! Interesting!
More to add to the legend!