It's easy to take inspiration from 'Psycho.' That was a great movie. It's quite another thing to overtly rip it off while only adding a stupid, superficial layer to the story. That is exactly what happens with 'Don't Go In The House.'
Donny Kohler (Dan Grimaldi) is a man who is hopelessly devoted to his mother. He was horribly abused by her when he was a young by when she would hold his arms over flames. When he comes home to find her dead of natural causes, he begins to hear voices and to see hallucinations. For some reason, these voices empower Donny to now take his revenge against his mother by killing women who vaguely resemble her (there are some instances where they are extremely vague). This is achieved by his use of a homemade flamethrower and a fireproof, steel room.
Will someone stop this psychopath? Will Donny be able to escape the specter of his mother? He keeps her dead body in her room, so that makes things extra difficult. Does having a crematorium in one's house increase or decrease the resale value?
It's hard to be intimidated by a killer who is a mentally simple servant to his dead mother and whose 'murder uniform' is a flame retardant suit which makes him look like a beekeeper. The victims are all of a certain type and anyone who is dumb enough to accept a ride from a weirdo who makes lame excuses to stop by his house is well on their way to having a bad evening. All you have to do is avoid the awkward man who wants you to get in his car and you'll probably be fine.
The pall of disco hangs heavily over this film. Along with hopelessly dating the movie, it turns certain scenes that could have been suspenseful into riots. It only belongs in the scene which actually takes place in a discotheque. Brief moments of generic metal popping up would have made more sense if this was geared toward a teenage crowd, but it isn't, so what's the big idea?
Some ghostly images of Donny's mother are a little spooky. Combined with an ending that is reminiscent of 'Maniac' and you have some fleeting moments of effectiveness. The key word there is 'fleeting.' If your horror movie isn't scary, funny or remotely entertaining, what's the point?
The acting is unspeakably bad, especially from the lead. Norman bates knew how to play it cool and his revelation was actually a surprise. Actually, the acting is bad all across the board. One has to put a lot of that blame on the script and director Joseph Ellison.
Special features include: none.
Aside from a tasteless (and shoddily done) child abuse scene, and one particularly nasty burning, it's hard to see why 'Don't Go In The House' would have earned as much controversy as it did. By today's standard's, it's rather tame. Perhaps that's just further evidence of us being desensitized as a society and entertainment's endless quest to outdo the controversies of the past.
More to the point, this movie is a piece of crap.
Rated R 82 minutes 1980