Don’t Go in the House (1979)

Directed by Joseph Ellison [Other horror films: N/A]

This is a movie that I’ve now seen around four times. It’s consistently a decent watch, though always tends to hover around average. Likely worth a watch if you’re a fan of 70’s horror, Don’t Go in the House is a rather dark film, and while I never loved it, it’s not without it’s strong points.

Though this has somewhat of a reputation for being overly violent, anyone who has seen this movie can attest to the fact that, for the most part, it’s pretty tame. Of course it does deal with some heavy topics, such as child abuse and the mental instability that it could lead to, but the violence itself is pretty much restricted to a single scene, which is probably one of the stand-out moments of the movie.

Which isn’t to say, of course, that the rest of the movie wasn’t good. In fact, I think that this rewatch has given me a bit more appreciation for the film than I generally have. It’s not that I ever disliked this one, but as a kid, I will admit that I probably found segments of this one a bit dull. Even now, some scenes dealing with Grimaldi feel more uncomfortable than anything else, but the same could be said for Perkins in Psycho, which this movie seemed to be influenced by, so it’s not that big a deal. It’s just fair to say that, even though many of the non-action sequences possess some charm (such as that classy disco scene), this isn’t the most action-packed movie.

With a few exceptions, most of the cast members who stood out never did much else in movies. Of course Dan Grimaldi later went on to be in The Sopranos (a show that I’ve not personally seen, but generally have heard solid things about), and he does reasonably well here playing a socially awkward character. Energetically fun Robert Carnegie (who also apparently popped up in Mother’s Day a year later) was, as stated, fun. His character seemed a legitimately decent guy (infidelity aside), and I dug all of his scenes.

Others who deserve a quick mention include the priest, played by Ralph D. Bowman, a stylish salesman played by David McComb, a heavily intoxicated woman played by O’Mara Leary (her constant slurring cracked me up), and lastly, Johanna Brushay, who was the controversial death somewhat early on in the movie (and also the only one here to throw any nudity our way, for whatever that might be worth). None of these people had much of a career past this film, but they definitely add something here, especially Bowman, who’s character is one that, for some reason or another, has always stuck with me.

Special effects don’t really play that heavily into this one. Sure, we see someone set on fire, which at times looks okay, other times shoddy, and we get some pretty basic corpses, but nothing really stands out much in this department. Far more important, or at least more indicative of the time period, was the funky soundtrack.

Early on, Grimaldi’s character listens to some disco, and then some funk rock piece. Both of these were decent, but we get the best music during the disco sequence, which was just fun overall. Personally, I enjoy some Bee Gees and KC and the Sunshine Band (“I Betcha Didn’t Know That” just slaps), and the music here, with songs such as “Struck By Boogie Lightning” (L’Ectrique) and “Late Night Surrender” (Jeree Palmer) are pretty damn catchy. Legit adding some of these tracks to my iTunes.

That some of this can come across as a time capsule really does give this movie a bit of a boost. It doesn’t make the movie that good, in my view, but it does give us a little bit more than just a gritty, late 70’s outing. Don’t Go in the House isn’t one of those films I go out of my way to watch (evidenced, I’m sure, by the fact I’ve seen this only four times in 15 years), but it’s not a bad time. It just fails to stand out near as much as I’d hope.

7/10

Author: Jiggy's Horror Corner

Fan of the horror genre, writer of mini-reviews, and lover of slashers.

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