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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2008
Back when I was a small child in the mid 70's, Horror movies expectedly frightened me. Big time. Even movie trailers on the TV would have me running into another room. But by the time I reached ten or eleven something happened, my Dad got us cable. There I was barraged by uncut Horror classics running 24 hours a day, on several channels, and I couldn't escape. Nor did I want to.

One of the first then-modern day Horror films I saw there was 1980's Don't Go In The House. While films like Halloween and Friday The 13th were already made by the time this movie came out, it was this movie with it's strange feel & it's one shocking scene that stuck in my head for years to come. Now after one completely botched earlier DVD release, Horror King Wannabe's Shriek Show has released the film in a special edition that may have you asking was it worth it in the first place?

Starring Dan Grimaldi, who eventually would go to play key-character Patsy Parisi in The Sopranos throughout it's entire run, this film is about Donald Kohler, a young man tortured throughout his life by his smothering & abusive mother. During a key moment in his youth, his mother punishes him for having "impure thoughts" by holding his arms above a burning flame. Eventually it's this flame that warps his mind and leads him down his insane murderous path. As a man, he has a job as a garbage man incinerator operator (surprised?). One day he sees a co-worker catch on fire and instead of helping him, he just stands there mesmerized by the flames and goes home. But at home he discovers that his mother has died in her sleep, and he's finally free of her...or is he? But in true "Psycho" fashion, he decides to not tell anyone, keep the body (not without a payback first), and live out his dark burning fantasies. After seeing a flamethrower with full uniform in a shop window (not the usual window shopping affair), he brings it home, sets up a steel wall plated room in he and his mother's huge creepy old-style house, and lets the revenge begin.....

DGITH is NOT a superb film. In fact at times it's slow, Grimaldi's acting is as stiff as his victims, and for a Horror film doesn't have many scenes that would qualify it, especially in this day and age. But it's it one redeeming yet deplorable scene involving Donny's first female victim in gruesome detail that in my opinion makes this film memorable. For 1980 I don't think a film ever went this far into what we now would now consider "torture porn", yet miles away in degree of what we'd see a just few years later. Without it, the movie would probably be pretty much a waste of time to all but the most dedicated Horror fanatic.

And I think that's why Shriek Show has given this film the "golden" treatment. Originally released back on DVD in 1999 with a terrible 4:3 picture and no menus to boot, this time it gets a new 1.85:1 presentation that looks miles ahead of it's original, yet not without it's flaws. While the color quality and high bitrate are excellent, the master still has print damage that was not corrected, but considering how it was made to begin with, it should be forgiven. Also are a new commentary by Grimaldi, an 11 minute video interview with him, trailers, and one interesting yet unadvertised feature called "Hidden Behind The Matte". Y'see, even though the cinematographer insisted that this DVD release be shown in it's "original" ratio, certain scenes seem more appropiate in the 4:3 format. So what Shriek has done is give you those two scenes in that format here as well. One being the most famous scene now being shown in it's full in-the-buff glory, the other the disco hall one that just shows now the discoballs on the ceiling. But these are from the 4:3 master and remind you just how bad this film once looked. So for extras, this movie's on fire!

Oh and by the way, this film has one Easter Egg, and I'll be happy to give it to you! Choose "Extras" from the main menu, then go all the way down until you highlight "Main", then press up to highlight a yellow button in the shape of the original movie poster's image in the upper right hand corner (be careful though, once you highlight it you can't get out of it without playing the Egg or pressing "Top Menu" on your remote.). There you will see the film's Ad Sheets, newspaper advertisements. Not the greatest Easter Egg, but yeah, this Disc has them too!

Overall, this film has stuck with me ever since that midnight showing over twenty years ago. It hasn't aged well, in fact it's disco scenes seems more dated than Xanadu! But to a fan of 80's early Horror, it's it's one shocking scene that puts it on the bloody map. As a whole not so much, but still worthy of a watch to see where films like Saw & Hostel may have received it's inspiration.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2006
Forgotten bit of early 80s horror nastiness overcomes its more graphic and mysogynistic elements thanks to a loopy performance by Dan Grimaldi (The Sopranos) and a wonderfully cheesy disco soundtrack. Watch as Grimaldi celebrates his evil mother's passing by playing his disco records REALLY loud. Truly a product of its time, Don't Go In the House ranks alongside William Lustig's Maniac in the sleazy slasher department. A guilty pleasure to be sure.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2010
Why did it take this long for me to finally appreciate a Horror flick like this!? I already know that answer. I remember buying a copy of this on an old ex-rental vhs some years back when I was a teenager. At the time, I didn't have much patience for it and quickly fast forwarded through most of it because I thought it was boring not see non-stop carnage. Boy, was I clueless or what about this kind of Horror. Haha. Well, after several years later and having seen many Horror flicks, I ran across the Shriek Show edition (nice edition by the way), of 'Don't Go in the House' and thinking, "I have to buy this! I actually need to give this flick a chance now that I've enjoyed a lot of Horrors reaching from extreme to tame to serious to silliness." After watching 'Don't Go in the House', I was shocked at how creepy and sleazy this film is; I LOVE IT!!!

The story is simple. A mean and evil mother tortures her son during his childhood years. Now he's grown up, his mother, whom he still lives with, has just died and now the son, being somewhat disturbed, really goes of the deep end! Starts hearing those pesky, evil, little voices in his head that tell him to seek revenge on his mother by killing other women. The way he fixes up one of the rooms in his house for his mother's punishment, is sick and disturbing! How he murders these women is truly brutal. Images of those charred corpses stayed in my head for awhile. Besides the one nasty, long scene that people like to point out, I found a couple more jaw dropping scenes! I compare Joseph Ellison's 'Don't Go in the House', a lot to William Lustig's 'Maniac'. I find it interesting that both films were put out in same year, 1980. It's the same situation with 'The Burning' and 'Madman'. Those two came out in the same year. But I'm not sure if Mr. Ellison and Mr. Lustig had to rush their film to be made because of news being leaked as what happened with 'The Burning' and 'Madman'. If you enjoy films such as: 'Maniac', 'PIECES', 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' and even 'Psycho', than 'Don't Go in the House' should fit right in.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2002
already a good case against this flick as it falls within the rash of knock-off "don't answer/look/open" movies which hit the scene in the late '70's - but this movie actually holds its own with some considerable sickness and a generally depraved attitude. The lead character doesn't smile once through the whole flick and hardly winces as he torches poor girls in his custom-made incinerator. Not much gore unfortunately other than some burnt bodies but this film is so humorless it makes up for the lack of grue in its mean-spiritedness. A kid abused by his mom (over the range-top burners of course) grows up to obsess about her (a la Psycho) and then take his revenge out against the innocent. A couple good jumps here and there - all in all a quality flick. Probably would have given it 4 stars but the DVD has absolutely nothing in the way of extras: full-screen, 2 (!) chapters, and thats it.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2006
I vaguely remember hearing about this film during it's theatrical run in the 80's when I was kid. I remember how critics trashed the film as being a particularly nasty example of the increasingly misogynistic direction horror films were going during that time period. There is no doubt that I did raise my eyebrows while watching this for the first time recently. The scenes of women getting stripped and torched up into flames, the whole abusive mother theme AND the scene in the disco where the protagonist's would be dance partner gets it upside the head with glass candle holder can't be argued as anything but misogynistic. However, I also picked up on the underlying homoeroticism (for this I bump my rating up a star) that runs throughout the film involving the protagonist and his co-worker. I mean, what else could one think about the co-workers odd phone calls in the middle of night and his persistance in "hanging out". Loved the disco music and the vintage feel this film had to it. I think this film is regarding as somewhat of a cult classic in some circles and I would agree. I enjoyed the film enough to buy a cheap, used copy to add to my collection. It's worth checking out at least.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 1999
"Don't Go in The House" is independent filmmaking. Not the ultra hip Miramax stuff you may be used to, but one of the last independently produced horror films of the 80's. It's a gritty little picture with unpleasant images and steals from other pictures within it's genre, but what favorite movie of yours doesn't? Except for the horrid disco sequences, "Don't Go In The House" is an unjustly maligned shocker, one that has been railed on for it's treatment of women and it's ineptness. It's not inept and it's not a primer for abuse against women. It's a spooky little horror film about a closet psycho with a distaste for his mother's style of upbringing and his resentment of society and subsequent actions against it for letting such abuse happen.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon September 16, 2003
"Don't Go In The House" is one of those classic drive-in clunkers from the 1970s and early 1980s fondly remembered by fans of low budget horror/exploitation films. Why anyone would hide in the trunk of car in order to spend nearly two hours watching this cinematic drudge is beyond me. At the same time, watching in the privacy of my own home on DVD was a good experience, so maybe there is a reason or two for risking the inhalation of exhaust fumes in order to watch this horror movie. Apparently, filmmaker Quentin Tarentino had plenty of good things to say about this film, so that may provide another reason for movie buffs to rent or buy this 1980 Psycho rip off. "Don't Go In The House" continued the tradition established by other "Don't..." films, such as "Don't Look In The Basement" and the like. This movie stars people you have never heard of, and its directed, produced, and written by a few other people you've never heard of or from again. Sure, star Dan Grimaldi turned up on "The Sopranos" and in a bit part in the film "Crooklyn," but the people who associated themselves with this film are not pulling down big buck salaries in Hollywood these days.
Dan Grimaldi stars as Donald "Donny" Kohler, a momma's boy who works at some sort of a heavy industrial plant when he isn't home tending to his mother's needs. We learn immediately that something isn't quite right with Donny when a guy at the plant catches on fire and Don does nothing to help him. Understandably, this odd behavior aggravates most of the other workers at the plant with the exception of Bobby, a rather friendly bloke who cheats on his wife and who calls Donny on the phone at weird times. These tentative maneuvers to establish camaraderie between the two never find an explanation in the film. In fact, the script gives us little clue as to what is going on in Donny's mind (at least initially). We do know that Mom was some sort of religious despot who burned Donny's arms when he was a child for some supposed transgression. But now Mom is dead, found moldering in a chair up in her room when Donny comes home from work. Whatever will Donald do now that his freedom from domineering old Mum is over? The first thing he does is smoke in the house and crank up the old stereo! Donald knows how to live, but very quickly after discovering Mom upstairs Donald starts to hear voices in his head instructing him to commit grisly crimes.
Kohler runs with these suggestions by turning one room of the sprawling house into a metallic death chamber complete with chains and hooks. Throw in a fire retardant suit and a flamethrower and you get the strong impression that Donald's interests run to indoor barbecues of a most peculiar character. It isn't long after completing this project that Kohler brings his first victim to the house, a foxy '70's gal who promptly finds herself tied up in the room. The following scene, when Donald douses this woman in gasoline and then lights her up, does possess a certain gruesome fascination and probably constitutes the bulk of this movie's notoriety. Our hero rapidly follows up with two further victims, then dresses up the three corpses in old clothes and sits them in chairs in another room of the house. During the rest of the film, Kohler occasionally revisits this room to learn that the corpses torment him with voices only he can hear. All the while, Mom remains upstairs in her chair and Bobby continues to place odd phone calls to his friend in an attempt to get Donny to go out for a night on the town. Throw in a priest, a tepid dream sequence, and some cheesy disco scenery, and a "shock" ending and you have the makings of a low budget classic destined to win over new legions of fans (!).
"Don't Go In The House" would be a complete rip off of Hitchcock's "Psycho" if it possessed any of the wonderful attributes that made that Anthony Perkins/Janet Leigh vehicle such an enduring institution. Instead, we get bad acting, terrible dialogue, bad cinematography, cheesy special effects, and poky pacing. I think I counted at least five separate times where the director used the same footage of Donny driving his vehicle around town. About the only thing that truly works for this film is the gritty, grim atmosphere of Donny's house. The place is spacious on the inside, but at the same time the Kohler abode looks so incredibly seedy that I felt like taking a shower after watching the movie.
The DVD version of "Don't Go In The House" is atrocious; it looks as though they restored the film, if any restoration took place at all, with a piece of sandpaper. Again, this lousy transfer does lend the picture a certain grimly alluring atmosphere, but for a DVD release I would like to see a better quality film. Amazingly, there are no extras on the disc to speak of: no trailer, no commentary, and no production notes. This DVD doesn't even contain a menu screen. When you put the disc in your player, it immediately goes right into the movie. I'm reminded of a VCD when I think about seeing this movie on DVD, although even VCDs have menu screens on occasion. Overall, this film does have a few things going for it, but only hardcore horror fans should apply here. If you must see "Don't Go In The House," consider renting it instead of buying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2004
As you may have figured out from reading my other reviews, I have an affinity for obscure horror suspense thrillers, but it's not necessarily a blind affection. I know a crappy film when I see it, and I don't hesitate to say so. This film, however, surprised me. I was expecting another cheapo chopped full of bad acting, lousy special affects, and crummy music. This has none of those things. It's actually quite interesting, though it does borrow some story elements from Psycho, and films like it.

Donny is a troubled young man whose mother used to punish him by holding his arms over the burners of the kitchen stove. As a result, he has grown up into a bit of a fire bug. We find this out right off the bat, when in the beginning of the film, we see him freeze at work when he sees a coworker burst into flames as the result of a boiler explosion. His sanity takes a turn for the worst when his mother dies. Now alone, and with no one to keep tabs on his actions, he begins the fun little task of inviting dumb women back to his house so that he can beat them over the head, hang them in the basement, and then barbecue them alive with a blowtorch. This method of doing away with victims was probably very unique at the time, and I don't know of any films that have used this idea since. Fairly gruesome!

The acting in this film is halfway decent, and the subtle music does a good job of complimenting the feeling of loneliness and paranoia that the protagonist feels throughout. Not a bad flick, even if it is a little bit unrealistic.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2008
The 1970's was an optimum year for horror films in almost every country in the world. From a social stand-point you could blame A LOT of things on why there were so many violent and shocking films, but personally I'd have to say that directors back then just knew how to bring chills up your spine. Such is actually the case in Don't Go in the House, a bizarre little low budget psychological horror/character study film about a quiet, little guy who was tortured as a kid by his mother using fire and the night his mother dies he just... snaps.

One thing I find interesting about Don't Go in the House is that it's NOT a Slasher film; in fact there's little Slasher film about it. There isn't even any blood! Well okay, one nose bleed, but that's literally it. The movie isn't trying to scare you with bodily fluids, it goes a completely different angle and DAMN does it work... The killer isn't some goofy super man in a mask or wearing flamboyant colors, he's a normal, ordinary guy. If anything makes him stand out from the crowd it's the simple fact that he tends to be a pretty snappy dresser (nice disco duds). His methods of murder are closer to realism, too. He doesn't go on random kill-sprees in populated areas that just HAPPEN to be isolated, he doesn't hunt, he lures. He lures women into his house, knocks them out and then... guhhh, ick... he INCINERATES them... That may not sound creepy, but the way the bodies are made in the film they look pretty realistic.

Of course, the small budget on this title shows immensely. There aren't too many notable performances save for maybe the main character, the main character's friend and one cute drunk girl ("It's a bar, dummy!"). Oh, and the main character's boss, but he was only in three scenes. The rest of the acting is mediocre at best and some of the dialogue can be grating at times... did they really have to compare idiocy to homosexuality?

One particular issue with the movie is the film is down right misogynistic. There are few females who aren't antagonized in the film either they be shoppers or mothers... in fact the only really nice ones were the killer's victims, attempted or murdered! Also, the ending didn't have much of an impact, it felt like one of those 'yeah, right' moments in attempt to insert last minute social commentary.

Despite all this though, the movie has got a very creepy atmosphere. The soundtrack actually helps a lot in establishing the dormant fear and some of the notes even give the implementation of heat. One thing I admire about the film is that the movie seems to remember that the main character is a homicidal killer; despite his evident point of childhood trauma, we're not fed any further information beyond that point and it is all left to the imagination. If anything, I felt the tie in to his childhood punishment being religious to be a bit of a cop-out, but I know for a fact it could've been a lot more hammy than that (at least no stupid mystical cult is fueling it... I hate it when serial killer based media does that). Even better is that you can hardly hear what the voices in his head are saying and they rarely make sense... it's almost like you're LITERALLY hearing what he hears.

So, if you have the room for it, get it because Don't Go in the House is one of those strange little gems of a horror film that has a lot going for it in atmosphere and originality.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2006
[brief plot synopsis]

A slasher film about a victim of child abuse (Dan Grimaldi) who grows up to become a maniacal construction worker. He stalks women at discos, takes them home, then hangs them upside-down in a special steel-walled room and sets them on fire in an attempt to forget about his abusive mother who seems to haunt him from beyond the grave.

[good things]

The things I liked in this film weren't really at all unique. The movie did have aspects of movies like Psycho (which seemed to be more than inspired by) and Deranged. The movie did serve a few really good kills and some really disturbing moments, all of which really fell flat because of the lack lustre' script. The most disturbing death had to be the kill where he strung the lady up and torched her, for some reason that's the one that really sticks in my mind.

[the bad]

The movie starts off really slow, and never really picks up. Even for the era of the movie, it still seems really tame. The acting, wasn't at all bad, and the script was well written. But, key moments in the film fell limp because of the director's inability to deliver the chair-jumping blow. The movie was just missing a alot of what I look for in a slasher movie, or even a haunted house movie-- which the movie was more a hybrid of both.

[final thoughts]

When I bought this movie for $3 used from, I didn't expect much at all. It took me almost a full year to actually get around to watching it and to tell you the truth it took me a few days to finish it. I just could not get into it. Some parts of the movie had me on the edge of my seat and five minutes later I was bored to sleep. The score does nothing for the film, and may as well not be there. So much better could have been done with it that could have made the movie easier to watch. Recommended only if you have seen everything and like to see movies that flash some bush, because there was a shot of that.
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