The movie for today is one that Quentin Tarantino loves. I haven't found him saying it but it is reported that he considers Don't Go In The House (1980) a classic. With a title like that it is hard to see it as something one should go rush out and rent just because one famous director thinks it is a classic movie. Then again, we all have movies that we love despite the fact that everyone else hates it. I'm a little more careful with which movies I attach the term classic onto though. Does this mean I disagree with Tarantino? That I do but not as much as you might think.
Don't Go In The House is about one man, Donny Kohler (Dan Grimaldi). The story starts with Donny at work. He is a repair man from the looks of it. A co-worker catches on fire after a can explodes and all Donny does is stand there and watch while other co-workers take longer to get there. One co-worker really rags him for this but it seems that Donny is the guy most of the co-workers pick on. He keeps pretty well to himself, lives with his mom and doesn't seem to have any friends. Bobby (Robert Osth) is trying to be a friend to him and tries to look out for him at work. When Donny goes home, he discovers that his mom has passed away in her chair. At first he panics, starts to call someone on the phone and hangs up. Then he hears a voice in his head that is basicly telling him that he is free. His response to this voice is, "You mean I can play my music loud?" He goes and does just that and jumps around on a chair and smokes.
Soon after this he can hear his mom calling to him. Is he just crazy or what? He calls off from work and ends up at some flower shop and even though the place is closed he talks his way in. Donny delays the woman just enough to where she misses her bus ride. He offers her a lift and she takes him up on it instead of sticking around for the next bus since there are three guys near by making some rude comments and gesters towards her. Donny tells he has to stop at his house but its on the way to where she goes so it will only take a minute. Then after much talking, he gets her into the house. To me he was trying way to hard and that should have sent the alarm bell ringing for the woman. Anyways he hits her and knocks her out. She wakes up naked and chained in a room that Donny had put metal plates all over the room. He then comes in wearing like a fire proof suit and poors gas over her and sets her on fire with a flame thrower. Nice guy huh?
The effects are rather limited. We see the ever blacking body of his mother once in a while and the chared bodies of the women he burned. This was well done. There is a scene where they appear to be walking that looks a little funny since it is easy to tell it isn't people in make up doing the walking. The guy at the start of the film is obviously on fire and can be since he is in a fire suit but when he sets the woman I talked about on fire, it is easy to see that she wasn't on fire at all. They used movie magic to make it look like she was on fire and it didn't look good at all.
I wasn't to taken by the acting. I can't say that it was bad, I just didn't really work for me. I can't explain why really, it just didn't. The characters themselves, what few could be found, are interesting though. It seems people thought Donny was a bit off and crazy before we meet him but watching him slip further into madness is what made the movie interesting to watch. He starts to see his dead mother up and around. He can hear the voice I talked about along with his mother at times and also the voices of the women he kills. He talks to the now dead women as if they are still alive. Puts them back in the clothes they showed up with and keeps them in one of the rooms in his house. He starts to have dreams about them taking revenge on him so some part of him is feeling guilty for what he has done.
I've said before that sometimes only showing what happened after is more effective than actually showing everything that happened to a person in a horror movie. This is one time I wished they had shown a little more. After the first woman is shown being burned alive, the others are simply shown being taken in the room and then are shown again as a chared corpse. I understand why they didn't show them being burned alive, it would have been repetitive for one and since the fire effect didn't look good it is probably best they only did it the one time. Still, it would have been nice if they had maybe shown him turning on the flame thrower each time, something to push the horror of the moment just a little more.
Don't Go In The House is, in a way, about child abuse. We learn through flash backs that Donny was abused by his mother and we see the cycle again at the end of the movie. Some people thought it was also a story of Donny striking out at his feelings of homosexuality. I didn't really see that between Donny and Bobby but at one point there was a conversation that kind of goes like this:
Donny: "I thought we could just have a quiet evening together."
Bobby: "Look, I didn't go to the trouble of making my wife think I was working this weekend just to go to a movie and hold your hand."
You see, Bobby was trying to get Donny to double date with him. He had two women he was going dancing with and wanted Donny to date the other woman. Still, when things are being said like that it is hard not to wonder if there might be a bit of a read between the lines type thing going on. I didn't enjoy this movie a lot but it was an interesting character study. Donny seeing his dead mother and him hearing voices provided some creepy scenes. It wasn't enough for me to call Don't Go In The House a classic but I have to admit I liked it, just enough.
3 out of 5 Wondering why no one noticed the burnt flesh smell
4 days ago