Review: Don't Go Into The House (18) / Directed by: Joseph Ellison / Written by: Joe Masefield / Starring: Dan Grimaldi, Charles Bonet, Bill Ricci, Robert Osth / Release Date: March 26th
When his abusive mother passes away, a disturbed young man transforms one of the rooms of their massive house into a furnace for burning his unlucky victims to death. The title is not only brilliantly evocative but good advice too: a psychopath with a flamethrower is a very convincing reason to not go into the house.
Donny is a typical early 80s horror movie villain. Permed and nervous with a tragic backstory and terrible mummy issues, he relaxes in his spare time by luring pretty young ladies into his home and setting about them with an enormous flamethrower. With no mother to hold him back, Donny is free to live out his fantasies. But with such a large number of women going missing and Donny not turning up for work, it can't be long before our killer and his plans begin to unravel. He attempts to unwind by visiting a disco with his work friend, but this only worsens the situation when he uses a candle to re-enact the famous Michael Jackson Pepsi accident on an innocent woman's head.
It's like Psycho crossed with Saturday Night Fever. Someone certainly missed a trick by not having The Trammps' Burn Baby Burn on the soundtrack (an idea nabbed by Hobo With A Shotgun, to great effect). This film is very much a product of the era within which it was filmed, and is all the better for it. The disco outfits, nightclub scenes and dodgy haircuts make the film look great throughout.
The best scenes see Donny struggle with this life; outside of his comfort zone at the disco, and awkwardly shopping for dancing clothes in a trendy boutique. There's a great moment early in the film – upon learning of the death of Mother Dearest, Donny proceeds to turn his music up loud, dance on the furniture and rub out cigarettes on the tacky trinkets decorating the place. His is a great transition from mild-mannered loser to deranged psychopath in the tradition of a Silent Night, Deadly Night movie. His flamethrower outfit is wonderfully functional; like Harry Warden's mining suit or Leatherface with his chainsaw.
It's the film's grounding in reality that sets it apart from other surrealist video nasties. His victims are switched on enough to realise that Donny might be a few matches short of the full box, making fairly rational decisions and attempting to escape as real people generally would. There's a subplot with a work colleague that is sweet if a little homoerotic (Donny's chum invites him for a beer as though he were asking a girl on a date; Donny calls him up to suggest they go to the cinema) – a bromance ahead of its time. This serves to emphasise the more surreal moments – and Donny's fragile state of mind – more. What Donny does is truly horrible, but the viewer can't help but feel a sense of sympathy towards the tragic character.
There's a great vibe to the film, even during the scenes in which not much seems to be happening. It's slow to build, but the atmosphere and Dan Grimaldi's goofy performance ensure that it's always watchable. Like most video nasties revisited, Don't Go Into The House doesn't seem all that nasty – in fact, it's rather silly at times. But this silliness just serves to make it all the more enjoyable.
Don't Go Into The House has aged well, its antiquity working in its favour. It's competently acted and directed, with some great imagery, a fantastic atmosphere and a memorable killer. So, Don't Go Into The House – unless it's to find a copy of this DVD; in which case, you should probably chance it.