First of all, saṃsāra is the cycle of birth and rebirth. Within this cycle there is an unceasing flow of consciousness - not to be identified with a person, though - that passes from existence to existence. The only way out of saṃsāra is nirvāṇa - this is your "dead end". To reach this state all accumulation of new karman has to stop and all accumulated karman has to be extinguished. Unless nirvāṇa is attained at some point, the samsaric existence is without end. Without beginning, it is anyway.
Now, at the end of one existence, the flow of consciousness - vijñāna-srotas - is thought to enter the womb of the mother to form a new being, if rebirth takes place in the human sphere. other than the human sphere, there are five other spheres of rebirth. They are galled gati - more or less "gait", but also "way" or "station", sometimes, in Mahāyāna also loka - "world". These are the spheres of: gods, demons, animals, hell-beings and hunger-ghosts. Check here for more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desire_realm
I'm not hundred percent sure, but this seems to be rather a mahayanic conception. Note also, that salvation - escape from the cycle of births - is only possible in the human sphere, since for example gods are just to blissful, to feel a need to stop this process.
To get back to your question, in popular Buddhism there may well be a hell or different hells, where people are also thought to be punished according to their deeds. To confirm this, there is the famous Wewurukannala temple in Sri Lanka, called the hell temple, which is full of rather gruesome pictures of these hells, see, for example, here: http://lanka-houses.com/sightseeing/wewurukannala-hell-temple.html
Buddhist doctrine would rather explain these hells as painful states of mind.