Don't Go In The House (1979) Review

When Donny (Dan Grimaldi) discovers his cruel mother dead, the voices inside his head tell him its party time. Instead of slicing and dicing his victims, Donny prefers to chain them in a room and torch them with a flamethrower. His mother’s ghost doesn’t like Donny’s behavior and haunts him after every kill.

The scariest thing about Don’t Go in the House is how closely it follows the script of Psycho and Maniac. Dan Grimaldi is no Anthony Perkins or Joe Spinell, but his character is very similar to their slasher anti-heroes. The ending looks like a direct theft of Maniac; zombie mom and re-animated victims attack the crazed killer. But wait, this film came out before Maniac.

Gore fans will be disappointed with the bloodless kills. The death of the first victim is really grim, but director Joseph Ellison (no relation) has the rest of the kills occur off screen. Mom’s ghost provides a couple of chills during the films more talkative sections. Those crispy corpses and a couple of burning scenes are the biggest special effects in the film.

The script tries to make Donny a sympathetic character. We see the mother torture the young Donny with fire. Yet, Donny becomes more loathsome, not scary or creepy, as the film progresses. Only one other character, a buddy from work, has any kind of development. Stalking scenes are nothing more than “Hey, need a ride.” Cut to a new corpse sitting in a rocking chair.

Don’t Go in the House is a very dull slasher. Fans of the genre may want to give it a look to see what slashers were like before writers and directors mastered the formula. Add some blood, suspense, and a good actor and this could have been Maniac.

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