Heads Up, Ears Down

This blog accurately identifies depictions of violence and cruelty toward animals in films. The purpose is to provide viewers with a reliable guide so that such depictions do not come as unwelcome surprises. Films will be accurately notated, providing a time cue for each incident along with a concise description of the scene and perhaps relevant context surrounding the incident. In order to serve as a useful reference tool, films having no depictions of violence to animals will be included, with an indication that there are no such scenes. This is confirmation that the films have been watched with the stated purpose in mind.

Note that the word depictions figures prominently in the objective. It is a travesty that discussions about cruelty in film usually are derailed by the largely unrelated assertion that no animals really were hurt (true only in some films, dependent upon many factors), and that all this concern is just over a simulation. Not the point, whether true or false. We do not smugly dismiss depictions of five-year-olds being raped because those scenes are only simulations. No, we are appalled that such images are even staged, and we are appropriately horrified that the notion now has been planted into the minds of the weak and cruel.

Depictions of violence or harm to animals are assessed in keeping with our dominant culture, with physical abuse, harmful neglect, and similar mistreatment serving as a base line. This blog does not address extended issues of animal welfare, and as such does not identify scenes of people eating meat or mules pulling plows. The goal is to itemize images that might cause a disturbance in a compassionate household.

These notes provide a heads-up but do not necessarily discourage watching a film because of depicted cruelty. Consuming a piece of art does not make you a supporter of the ideas presented. Your ethical self is created by your public rhetoric and your private actions, not by your willingness to sit through a filmed act of violence.

The Last House on Dead End Street

The Last House on Dead End Street. Roger Michael Watkins (as Victor Janos), 1977.
Edition screened: Included on Vinegar Syndrome Corruption Blu-ray #098, released 2015. English language. Runtime approximately 78 minutes.

Summary: Explicit slaughter house footage. The blood drains from the head of a just-killed cow, 9:59-10:35.

This bloody scene is real “found footage” cut into The Last House when a character mentions that he formerly worked in a slaughter house. It has nothing to do with the film and probably was included simply for shock value or to set a horrific tone early in the viewing experience.

The Last House on Dead End Street is Watkins’ first film and some aspects are substandard or amateurish, notably the impulse to include the unrelated cow killing. But many of the story ideas, visual compositions, and the creative use of props are among the finest examples found in this type of horror film. Through costuming, blocking, and minimal dialogue Watkins creates and sustains moods that are truly horrifying, perfectly nightmarish in a way we rarely see portrayed.

Note that The Last House on Dead End Street is included as a secret bonus on Vinegar Syndrome’s Corruption Blu-ray. Access the film by scrolling down to the bottom item on the main menu, then push ‘down’ six more times. The /t/in the title Corruption at the top of the screen will gain a shadow. Select and play.