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Don't Go in the House
Year:
1980
Country:
USA
Genre:
Thriller, Horror
IMDB rating:
5.2
Director:
Joseph Ellison
Dan Grimaldi as Donny Kohler
Denise Woods as Body #2
Jim Donnegan as Clerk
Susan Smith as Girl in Market
Johanna Brushay as Kathy Jordan
Mary Ann Chin as Woman In Street
Lois Verkimeps as Woman with Kids
Ruth Dardick as Mrs. Kohler
Charles Bonet as Ben (as Charlie Bonet)
Bill Ricci as Vito
Robert Osth as Bobby Tuttle
John Hedberg as Worker
Darcy Shean as Girl in Car
Storyline: 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.
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Reviews
Uniquely creepy!
With a synthesized musical score, chilling imagery and an intriguing perspective, Don't go in the House displayed a memorable aspect that most movies, even for its time, did not offer. It has it's flaws, most notably being a fairly strong anti-women aspect (which was more than understandable coming from the main character, but ambiguous coming from little corners of the movie), but it still does a great job of creating a surreal feeling of terror as we are treated to the 1st person perspective of an emotionally/physically scarred person. Everything else from including the mundane spoken lines fits in the movie. All the more reason as not to omit it as too misogynistic or harsh...it is a psychological HORROR movie, so the more violent or traumatizing it is, the better!

Best for the open minded horror fan and those looking for something a little different in their horror movies. 7.5 / 10
2004-04-24
A splendidly sleazy psycho horror exploitation gem
Withdrawn troubled loner Donald Kohler (a superbly intense, nuanced, and convincing performance by Dan Grimaldi, who went on to become a regular on "The Sopranos") was horribly abused as a kid by his mean and overbearing mother. After mommy dies Donny goes off the deep end and succumbs to the sinister whispery voices in his head. He embarks on a vicious misogynistic killing spree in which he brings assorted lovely young ladies to his forbidding rundown house and burns them alive. He keeps the charred corpses in the den so he can yell at them. Director Joseph Ellison does an expert job of creating and maintaining a grim, harsh, and unsparingly unpleasant tone that's both potent and unnerving in comparable measure. This movie reaches its startling apex when Donny nonchalantly torches a bound and naked lady with a flamethrower while clad in an asbestos suit. Another amazing highlight happens when Donny sets a woman's hair on fire at a groovy disco club. In a nice nihilistic touch Donny's sole jerky slimeball friend Bobby Tuttle (a perfectly obnoxious portrayal by Robert Osth) winds up being the hero of the picture. In addition, this flick deserves bonus points for bumping off an ineffectual wannabe helpful priest and for being firmly grounded in a plausibly drab blue collar reality. Oliver Wood's stark, grainy cinematography and Richard Einhorn's shivery'n'shuddery score further enhance the overall genuinely creepy, sleazy and unsettling nightmarish mood. Bleak central point: Serial killers are toxically messed-up products of severe childhood mistreatment. A nice'n'nasty nugget.
2007-06-07
Nasty Exploitation Thriller ... With Historical Inspiration??
Yes, DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE seems to be another lurid cinematic adaptation of a real-life serial killer's exploits. The first time I saw this film I said to myself "Now where have I heard about someone burning fetching young ladies to death in an asbestos insulated room before?" and the answer is Herman Mudgett, aka H.H. Holmes, Chicago's twisted "Torture Doctor" who murdered anywhere between 20 and 200 people in a self-designed townhouse on 63rd Street during the 1890s. Mudgett built a maze of false corridors, secret passageways, trap doors, sound proof and air proof killing rooms and dug vats for quicklime acid baths & a crematorium incinerator in the basement of his 3 story castle of horrors, complete with fake battlements and windows covered with sheets of steel. The most famous of which was an asbestos lined room with gas jets where he would confine victims and watch them being burnt to cinders for kicks.

It is perhaps from those basic elements that the brain trust responsible for DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE found their inspiration for a story about a steel mill worker who goes on a killing spree after his mother -- who cruelly abused him as a child -- drops dead in her sitting chair. Character actor Dan Grimaldi is very well cast as Donny Koehler, a mommy obsessed loser and budding psychopath still bearing the scars of his childhood trauma where mom attempted to "burn the evil out" of his soul by holding his bare arms over a lit gas stove, which of course created a Freudian fascination with fire, his relationship with women, his mistrust of authority figures and religion. It doesn't quite answer the question of how he became interested in disco music but what the hell, that was the fad of the time. These days he'd be obsessed with Britney Spears maybe, which IMHO would make for an even more frightening portrait of insanity.

Several things about this movie actually click and make it a rewarding ride for fans of 1980s era slasher horror, the first being the setting. This is one of the most bleak and dismal looking horror movies ever, set on Long Island during a cold, inhospitable looking February that is actually quite unique: Most slasher movies are set during the warmer months of the year to afford the cast to walk around half naked in the great outdoors. By contrast this film is set within dank, claustrophobic interiors, specifically the wonderfully creepy, empty and rapidly dilapidating house that Donny grew up in, which is photographed from an interesting vantage point to make it look all the more isolated from the rest of the world. There are no neighbors to overhear the screams of anguish from Donny's victims, who's complete lack of hope for rescue is probably more disturbing than their on screen fates.

Much ado is rightfully made about Donny's first murder of a full-breasted young florist he tricks into coming home with him after wrapping up a get well bouquet for his putrefying dead mother. She is knocked unconscious, stripped nude, hung by her wrists, doused with gasoline and lit on fire. The sequence is convincingly staged but again what struck me about the murder wasn't how graphic it was so much as that she has utterly no hope of salvation and is merely present in the story as someone to suffer horribly for the benefit of the camera. Then there is the scene in the men's shop where Donny is outfitted for a night on the town in a disco ensemble suit that would have made John Travolta envious. Others have questioned it's relevance to the story and my thought is that it depicts just how isolated Donny is from the world around him. And reflects the filmmakers' disdain for the whole disco era subculture.

Aside from the young florist no characters in this story are sympathetic, there are no good guys and even the local minister ends up a charred reminder of how the community failed Donny by turning a blind eye to his mother's cruelty. Next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store and some pathetic loser starts screaming at their misbehaving kid tell them to knock it off lest the young urchin someday grow up to buy an asbestos suit and flamethrower. Psychopathic mommy obsessed losers are a dime a dozen and you might just end up saving the life of a hot young florist with pert nipples. We need all of them we can get.

6/10
2007-03-14
Don't go near this one...unless you have a huge appetite for B-movies!
Of the several hard-to-find movies I've seen recently, very many came from a long-defunct studio you may recall as Film Ventures International. After seeing such low-budgetry in the form of CARDIAC ARREST, THE DARK, THE FORCE BEYOND, GRIZZLY, SURVIVAL RUN, and BEYOND THE DOOR (the best one), it looked like FVI belonged to a list of past and deceased B-movie studios in the face of human history. Unfortunately, their GREAT WHITE is still nowhere to be found to this day. But the so-called masterpiece DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE automatically continues to form potholes in the road forever! It looked like the highly publicized ultimate drive-in horror film based on my viewing of a trailer compilation that contained this title. If you're a serious fan of horror, don't bother! It's another lousy creation in FVI's endless list of under-appreciated movies. You need to follow along with the woman-hating Donald to get the full meaning of this. His reasons for killing them remain perfectly unclear once you try awfully hard to understand about his childhood. Sort of a throwback to HALLOWEEN, isn't it? What really irks this one up are the soggy disco music tracks plus a goofy hangout scene, all of which have nothing to do with the already inferior plot it has given! Unless you've got full faith and trust with lost little movies such as DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE, be thankful it has an eerie feeling to it. Probably the best thing worth watching is the bare lady getting burned in the fire. I hate to admit it, but some low class video publishing company out here is going to re-release this one and tag this as a SPECIAL EDITION! Most likely, I'll be wrong at that, and I hope so! There's hardly anything here to justify another shot at targeting a mainstream audience, but nothing is kept confidential anymore in recent days. If you enjoy this sort of thing, I dare you to look for NIGHT OF BLOODY HORROR starring Gerald McRaney. For completists of no-budget schlock movies only!
1998-11-22
Trash Treasure #1
The story goes like this, set during one cold winter in a coastal New Jersey town, twenty-something Donald Koher is a disturbed young man who works at the local incinary factory where he lives in a big house with his mother who severely abused him as a child by roasting his arms over the gas burner stove. When Donald (nicknamed Donny) comes home from work one night at the beginning of the movie, his mother has died in her sleep apparently from natural causes. Donny flips out and, after listening to the voices in his head from "others" since his childhood, he decides to return the favor what his mother did to him to the rest of the world. Donny builds a metal-plated flame-proof room in the house, lures a series of women into his home where he ties them up in the fire room, strips them of their clothing, douses them with kerosene, and then blasts them with a flamethrower, then he dresses up their charred corpses like his mother and talks to them, and they (in his disturbed mind) talk back (i.e. Norman Bates with a flamethrower.)

Sick as it seems, it's not all that vile as it sounds. There is only one on-screen flame-killing, but most of the film is concerned with Donny's inter torment from the voices he constantly hears in his head. It's like we are made to sympathize with Donny's plight and his torment from unspeakable childhood abuse by his demented mother, but it doesn't work, for the more we know about Donny, the more we hate him. Do we even care?

Donny is not very sympathetic at all and it's easy to see why no one around him respects him for his cold-stares, and hesitant behavior. Donny's only real friend is Bobby, a co-worker at the factory who too is unsympathetic. Bobby is a sleazeball jerk who cheats on his wife every chance he gets, and is set up at the climax as the unlikely hero.

Contents: three fire murders; one featured nude victim; cheap production values; terrible lighting; a decent performance by Dan Grimaldi and the sicko; lots of flames.
2001-11-17
Good Storyline Great Soundtrack
Our man, Richard Einhorn, once again proves his music genius in this "B" horror flick. Mr Einhorn composed this excellent soundtrack, to which, no one has been able to reproduce. I contacted Mr Einhorn trying to reserve a copy of this musical masterpiece. Unfortunately, Mr Einhorn was not able to produce a copy of the music on paper or on tape. I will attempt to purchase a copy of this movie and burn the soundtrack to mp3 format. If anyone is interested please contact me
2000-07-06
throw another bitch on the barbie
Don't Go In The House is a great misogynistic slasher flick of the same vintage as Lustig's Maniac. Interestingly, they share a similar ending but I guess that's where the similarities end. Don't Go in the House is more like a great midnight movie than an exploitation horror classic. All the same, it will appeal to fans of both horror and exploitation equally.

Donny's a wimp, a dork, a schizophrenic delusional nutjob, loving son, etc. This is another one of those "mommy made the killer do it" movies. When Donny's strict mom kicks the bucket suddenly, he starts hearing voices telling him he should do whatever he wants. Apparently what Donny wants to do now that he is free from mother is listen to his lame music loud and fire-proof a room with sheet metal so he can put on his unnecessary suit (what the hell is that anyway, like a contamination suit? doesn't matter because he doesn't need the suit, the suit's stupid) and don his homemade flamethrower and go to town on some broads he cons into coming into the house. All the while, the voices in his head help him along and after awhile, he starts seeing his zombified victims coming after him.

This is a good ol' scummy fun flick with a great scene of a naked broad being set on fire. There's also a priest set on fire and the zombie makeup is pretty good. Everything else is just icing on an already fattening cake of gritty, fiery death--8/10.
2006-06-29
Grim but memorable
This film may be classified by some as being sick as it contains some pretty ugly scenes but it is a fairly honest and believeable look of a man losing touch with his sanity. The actors aren't that great but somehow, I doubt a film like this could have been made with name actors. It just wouldn't have the nasty tone that is required. The film also is quite scary at times and the make-up effects aren't bad considering the obvious low budget. That disco the main character goes to and the music that he listens to sure brought back memories for me!
2000-08-06
Much more than meets the eye!
At first you might think that this is yet another schlocky film in the long line of "Don't" titled slasher sickos of the late 70's and early 80's (such as "Don't Go in the Woods" "Don't look Now" and "Don't Open Until Christmas" etc) but this film is so much more than that. It stars the inimitable Dan Grimaldi ("The Sopranos") as psycho Donald Kohler, who is sent over the edge after the death of his abusive and domineering mother. It seems that mother's favorite way to punish young Donald was through the use of fire and after her death he takes to kidnapping young women and implementing horrific heat style torture and death methods upon them (including a grisly scene where a young woman is burned alive). The soundtrack is chock full of catchy little disco numbers that, although highly inappropriate for a horror film, will stay in your head forever! Grimaldi puts on a stellar performance and some of the torture and death sequences are wince inducing. This film does a very good job of taking you inside the mind of a deranged killer who is slowly losing his grip on reality. The ending is rather bizarre but still, if you only watch one "Don't" movie within the horror genre, make it "Don't Go In The House".
2007-10-21
Inept is the word that comes to mind
Based on a lot of what I've read about Don't Go in the House, it seems to be a Love It or Hate It kind of movie. There appears to be very little middle ground. Put me in the Hate It category. If you take a look at some of the other stuff I've reviewed and enjoyed, you'll notice I do not automatically write-off a movie because of a low budget. Some of my favorites fall into the low-to-no budget category. But what those movies have that is sorely lacking in Don't Go in the House is talent. This is one of the most inept pieces of celluloid I've watched. It comes off as some kind of lame Psycho rip-off without anything approaching entertainment to be found in the entire runtime. It's dull, poorly acting, poorly directed, and poorly scripted. I feel like I've just flushed the $11.98 I paid for the DVD down the commode.
2006-02-13
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