Mar 5, 2012

The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell

When I heard about the film The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell (2011) directed by Ron Atkins, an exceedingly trashy apocalyptic work featuring lunatic-leads of truly obscure cult cinema, Terry Hawkins (the anti-hero of Roger Watkins’ 1977 cult masterpiece Last House on Dead End Street that was played by Watkins himself) played by Jim Van Bebber (director of Deadbeat at Dawn and The Mansion Family) and Harry Russo (the anti-hero of Ron Atkins’ Schizophreniac: The Whore Mangler and Necromaniac: Schizophreniac 2) played by John Giancaspro, I was a tad bit skeptical of such an ambitious movie scenario, especially considering the film was shot in digital video; a medium in stark contrast to the gritty 16mm film used for its extremely influential predecessor Last House on Dead End Street. I initially watched The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell at 4am on a Thursday night, which turned out to be a wholly surreal and hypnotic (if thoroughly mentally deranging), but strangely pleasurable, sort of scenario, which proved to be just as power on subsequent (and more mentally cognizant) viewings. After all, hearing Jim Van Bebber incessantly yelling, “NIGGER” whilst giggling like the maniacal midget ‘Hombre’ from Werner Herzog’s classic Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) is even a delightfully idiosyncratic experience for such a fundamentally contra politically correct individual like myself. While The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell is unsurprisingly a tribute to the Schizophreniac films and, most specifically, the late Roger Watkin’s sole masterpiece Last House on Dead End Street, the film is also an unhinged libertine homage to the iconic American film The Wizard of Oz (1939), featuring apish white-men in monkey masks and a wicked bitch witch with suave neo-psychedelic style.  Although featuring a plot, the individual segments of The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell, which range from frenzied quasi-vaudevillian comedy acts to mock-snuff footage, are ultimately more significant than the whole. After a brief lover’s spat upon initially meeting in Las Vegas, Terry Hawkins and Harry Russo, a virtual Beavis and Butthead from Hell, become unwaveringly loyal comrades of carnage and search for the mysterious “Nigger of Cause” whilst following the magnificent “Nigger Brick” road. On their magical mystery tour for the unholy desert grail, the two playful psychopaths rape Jewish bitches, humorously hail Uncle Adolf, malevolently murder negro-like monkey-men, and share plenty of laughs, among many other splendid activities. 

Aesthetically and thematically, The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell is easily Ron Atkins’ greatest and most ambitious accomplishment as a filmmaker. While the film does feature a number of realist home-video-style scenes that Atkins is well known for, The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell also features a storm of potent picturesque outdoor scenes as Hawkins and Russo cruise the Nigger Brick Road, as well as a number of colorful skits of Giancaspro performing as a variety of quotable personas, ranging from a stereotypical china-man to an abortion-venerating pseudo-Dracula. If Atkins goal was to infuse The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell with the aura and atmosphere of a truly trashy post-apocalyptic scenario, he indubitably succeeded, as I felt like I was watching a film discovered in a trailer park time-capsule left from some imaginary second American Civil War. Undoubtedly, the vigorously violent (yet hilarious) racial hatred that permeates throughout The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell would be a major catalyst for such a scenario. During The Cuckoos Clocks of Hell, Watkins candidly describes his transformation from being racially apathetic to a staunch and unrepentant racist. In such fanatically politically-correct times, the mainstream proclivity towards ‘racial sensitivity’ seems to have only fanned the flames of race-hate in a country that now has its first mulatto president. In my most humble opinion, the greatest achievement of The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell is providing a therapeutic outlet for those individuals that find themselves increasingly intolerant of so called tolerance and repelled by the putrid stench of pc-swill. While featuring a wealth of brutal rape and kindred-spirit killings, The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell is ultimately an unconventional “post-modern” comedy that is highly conscious of both obscure cult cinema and America's most critical (and unspoken) domestic issues. 


While filming Last House on Dead End Street, director Roger Watkins was consistently high on amphetamine. Although he spent about $3000.00 on the drugs that would fuel his film direction and infamous performance as Terry Hawkins, Watkins only spent around $800.00 on the actual production of Last House on Dead End Street, which is undoubtedly a great achievement on his part. Jim Van Bebber has also admitted that he had partaken in mind-altering substances during the production of The Manson Family (2003), so it is only befitting that he would later play the role of Terry Hawkins in The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell. I can only hypothesize that the same, somewhat reckless, recreational activity went on during the making of The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell as such subversive behavior is merely part of a long and grand tradition of cult filmmaking. I must commend Ron Atkins for The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell considering that not only is it his movie Magnum opus, but it is also a worthy and canonized tribute to Last House on Dead End Street and the filmmaker’s late friend Roger Watkins. Not merely parroting the legacy of its predecessor, The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell is Last House on Dead End Street seen through the lens of Ron Atkin’s own distinct and pleasantly peculiar universe.  In short, The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell is mandatory-viewing for any true fan of cult films, especially those individuals that don't get yeast infections from hearing wonderful words like "chink" and "spick."

Roger Michael Watkins (September 17, 1948 – March 6, 2007)

Throughout The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell, the character of Terry Hawkins continuously looks on with a smirk at the loony antics of Harry Russo in gleeful approval. I believe that is how Roger Watkins would have responded to The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell had he lived long enough to see it.

-Ty E


Anonymous said...

Oddly enough today is the 5th anniversary of Wadkins death.

Anonymous said...

In a way maybe its better never to watch a film like "Last House on Dead End Street", that way it retains its legendary cult status.

Phantom of Pulp said...

Eager to see this; Jim is a friend, so I'm doubly revved to indulge its charms.

Buschly said...

Last House On Dead End Street is on equal ground with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre being the two best American films of the 1970s. This looks fucking amazing and I'm glad to see Jim Van Bebber doing ANYTHING, he needs to direct another fucking movie! This DVD is $30 from the website, yikes, but I'll get it based on this review.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

The tin geezer looks like a cowering little queer.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

In the picture of the two geezers laughing with Uncle Adolf in the background it is very unfortunate that the geezer on the left looks like that loathsome and odious British faggot Stephen Fry.