Top critical review
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Only worth watching for one infamous and impressive scene
on October 5, 2008
Quentin Tarantino is said to be a fan of this movie, but - apart from one infamous scene - I can't understand why. Don't Go in the House is pretty much your typical, 1970s-era, cheap drive-in horror feature that promises little and doesn't over-deliver on those promises. (Is it just me, or are all 70s horror films plagued with dark, dirty prints? Can't someone do something to clean these things up a little bit?) I did learn one thing from the film, though. Apparently, back in 1979, you could go into a gun/camping shop and buy a flamethrower and flame-resistant suit - with no background check or anything.
This is the story of a lad named Donny (Dan Grimaldi). Like most young men and women, Donny goes a little crazy the first time he gets out from under his mother's thumb: jumping on furniture, turning up the stereo, and bringing girls back to his place for some fun. Unfortunately, Donny is about thirty years old and a total nutjob, leaves his dead mother sitting in the chair she died in upstairs, and he is not the least bit interested in the kind of games men and women normally play. We learn early on that he has a sick fascination with flame because he just stands there and watches as one of his co-workers at the incinerator stupidly catches himself on fire. Thanks to a childhood flashback, we soon learn the source of this fascination - and, frankly, it makes it pretty hard to disagree with the voices in Donny's head that tell him his dead mother was evil. The next thing you know, old Donny manages to entrap a fairly attractive woman into getting into his truck and stopping by to meet his mother. Bad mistake. Remember the flamethrower and heat suit I mentioned earlier? Yep, you guessed it. Let us pause here and linger on this film's singular moment and only real claim to fame. It's a fantastic scene that deserves a place in the cinematic annals of horror and gore; surprisingly graphic, especially for its time, it is Donny's demeanor and the silence of the act that makes it so effective and memorable. If Don't Go in the House is worth watching at all, it is for this one scene.
The rest of the film is pretty predictable and ends just as you knew it would all along. Of course, no one will be allowed to leave the theatre during the thrilling disco suit-buying scene and no one could possibly want to enter the theatre during the equally memorable disco dancing scene. Throw a little unnecessary epilogue on the end in an effort to make a statement (or not), and you're done. It should be obvious that only dedicated horror fans will wring the first drop of enjoyment out of the experience.