Don't Go in the House review by Matt Fuerst


The Evolution of Matt's Thought on the Chronology of Slasher Films, by Matt.

So, the 80's happens, you're a young kid and want to watch all the prohibited horror movies... Eventually one Halloween you catch a Friday the 13th Part [1-13] and thus begins your understanding of the horror slasher genre. Maybe a few years later you hear that Friday the 13th isn't the bees knees, that some cat named John Carpenter really invented the Slasher genre years beforehand with the Halloween series. (Ok, maybe most kids figured this out quicker, or knew from the get go... I was a slow learner, OK?) So Halloween is pretty cool with Jamie "Undescended" Lee Curtis doing her scream queen thing and whatnot and you accept the gospel. Maybe a few years later you're older, wiser and have had a few Milwaukee Light's under your belt, you read up on this gent named Bob Clark, the Bob Clark that directed A Christmas Story of all flicks, directing a movie years before Halloween called Black Christmas. Black Christmas has all the makings of a slasher flick, the first person POV shots, nubile and tender college co-eds, incompetent police force, the whole ball of wax. I was ready to call it quits after Black Christmas as the starting point for the Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees' of the world, but the pesky Internet, full of information, always has a hidden gem stored away from you. A visit to Ain't It Cool reveals that Quentin Tarantino's fav slasher is Don't Go in the House, a flick produced 2 years previous to Black Christmas. Is it time for me to reset my timeline back yet a few more years? Hell, more importantly, is it a good movie?

Donny is a lonely soul. He works at a garbage incinerator (not exactly a job filled with upward mobility) and lives with his sick mother. We are introduced to Donny at work, just as his coworker has a pressurized gas can explode on him, engulfing him in flames. Donny idly stands by as his coworker burns in front of his eyes. It's not panic that freezes Donny, it's not even curiosity. Donny has sheer apathy for another man burning to death. Donny, feeding an unhealthy maternal connection returns home to take care of his mother, only to find her dead in her rocker. These two events are enough to push Donny over the edge. Years of physical and mental abuse from his mother, with his newfound freedom, means he can start returning the favor.

Donny goes on the prowl for a victim, and snookers the local florist into his ride. "Hey baby, want to come home and meet my mother, she's really lonely." Do women fall for this? It's amazing that (fugly) serial killers land into more poon that I am able to buy. Anyway, Donny's first victim is his most brutal on screen kill, where he takes her to his specially designed room and gives her a similar treatment that his mother once gave him, except on a much grander scale. Donny eventually pauses for a moment of clarity and visits his local Church, talking with his priest. Donny decides he's heading down the wrong path, so he decides to follow the straight and narrow. What's a few kills on the tally sheet of life anyways?

All goes awry when a Disco Queen is pulling Donny onto the disco dance floor. Donny snaps and flashes back to his mutha tugging on him back in the day, when she was delivering her old school beat down on him, so Donny starts playing "Smack a Ho" on the dance floor... Even in the druggie disco days I hear that wasn't too cool. Queue up the big finale with Donny's only "sorta" friend/coworker and the local Priest entering into the "naughty den" to see what Donny has really been up to on his own time.

Don't Go in the House is most known for it's fairly well shot out first kill. It's pretty obvious that the producers had access to someone with some good pyro knowledge, since there are a LOT of fire effects in the movie. Still, despite a little repitition for a low budget 70's movie they are very well done. The acting and dialogue are a bit hammy at times, but I felt they were appropriate. The phone conversations between Donny and his buddy Bobby are almost realistic: there are pauses and weird breaks in the conversation that give it a more natural than scripted tone. And let's admit it, we don't all sound Mr. Cool on the phone all the time.

The flick is decent, but will be viewed as formulaic and boring by todays standards. Weird guys with voices? Check. Child abuse? Check. Serial killers? On NBC nightly. So in that respect I can't really give Don't Go in the House a super enthusiastic thumbs up. For the time and the budget, it's an effective piece of work I can imagine audiences in the 70's having a blast with at a drive in. Sadly, the DVD quality does not help the movie out much at all. This is the first movie I've ever seen that has NO menu at all. If you hit the menu button on your controller, the movie just resets to the first chapter. Oh, and chapters? There are 2. Two! It's almost like the chapters are along the lines when you'd flip the Laserdisc or something, which may well have been the source of the print. The print is flecked and marked all over. Colors are pretty washed out and poor. The audio is a fine enough presentation, there isn't much interference but you're not going to be taxing your system.

Well, Don't Go in the House was indeed produced before Black Christmas, but I am going to say Black Christmas gets to keep the Slasher crown from me. DGitH is campy good fun, but not a mandatory entry in anyone's collection.

5 out of 10 Jackasses
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