Saturday, February 16, 2013

Don't Go in the House

When I was in middle school we had textbooks for Health class that had been published in the mid 70's. Everyone in the black and white photographs in that book looked greasy and sallow.  If you were to shake that book, dandruff would probably fall out.

Don't Go in the House is a movie that brings the look and feel of my old Health class textbook alive in cinematic form.  I cracked up the first time I saw this when I popped the DVD in and found there was no menu. Bare bones, ruthless, and truly ugly.

Donny is a man who has been controlled by his mother his whole life.  When his father left their home, his mother began burning his arms over a stove flame to punish him for misbehaving.  This has caused him to lose his mind.  Within the first 10 minutes of this movie he hypnotically watches a co-worker almost burn alive, is accused of "standing there like a faggot" by his boss, goes home to find his mother has died, and cuts loose like Maculay Culkin in Home Alone once he realizes he's free of her control.  That is, until he starts hearing and seeing her again.

This compels him to bring women home, hang them up in a metal-lined room, and set them on fire with a flamethrower.  The sheer brutality of the first kill is definitely disturbing.  Quentin Tarantino supposedly said that this movie freaked him out more than any other, and while that's apocryphal info, it's easy to imagine this movie being awfully shocking considering it was released in 1980.  In fact, it's no wonder Concerned Folks nationwide were feeling bad about horror cinema in general considering this and Maniac were released the same year. On the other hand, further murders are hinted at and the aftermath shown rather than several graphic killing scenes.  I assume this was due to budgetary constraints, considering this movie appears to have been made for about 20 thousand dollars.

There are many weird flourishes to this movie that I find endearing.  Honest-to-God disco music plays a big part, and there is a chorus of demonic (or at least crazy bananas style) voices telling Donny what to do that could easily be the homonculi from Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Everything people buy is super cheap - one of the victims buys a bottle of soda, some food and 3 packs of cigarettes and it costs less than $5.  I guess that part of the 70's was okay.

But yeah, this is a gross movie.  Donny's a big-time misogynist, and a world class weirdo. Every time he becomes anything close to a sympathetic figure, he immediately does something completely bizarre or wholly heinous.  The movie ends with a short scene of a little kid getting smacked around by his mom and then staring at the camera while the chorus of voices that spoke to Donny start talking to him.  Unfortunately, that didn't result in a sequel.

Tomorrow: Mum and Dad

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