DVD Review – Don’t Go in the House (1980)

Don’t Go in the House, 1980.

Directed by Joseph Ellison.
Starring Dan Grimaldi, Charles Bonet and Bill Ricci.


Donny is tormented by his past, in particular the way his mother would punish him. When she finally bites the proverbial biscuit, Donny starts to hear voices…

Don’t Go in the House was originally released hassle free pre-video nasty. Then along came the cut-happy BBFC version, to avoid the damning stamp of Video Nasty. However, now we can see Don’t Go in the House uncut again, hooray!

The best way to describe this film in my opinion really, is charming. Now bear with me on this one – sure, the films tagline may well be “In a steel room built for revenge, they die burning…in chains” – so perhaps not the conventional meaning of charming, but the breed of charming that sums up quite a fraction of films of the late 70’s/early 80’s where the acting and dialogue is cheesy, but the soundtrack is funky as hell.

Donny, the titular character of Don’t Go in the House is plagued by memories of his mother who would literally scold him, by burning his arms over a gas hob if he had done anything she deemed sinful. Why someone with this sort of past would decide it was healthy to work in an incinerator I’m not sure, but go with it. Donny comes home one day after a particularly difficult day at work to discover that his mother is dead. First comes the shock, but then comes the voices.

This disembodied voice takes over Donny, and unfortunately for the viewer, it is at times quite difficult to understand this voiceover, as its words of guidance to Donny are distorted by poor sound quality, which is a shame. However, you get used to this as the story progresses, and soon enough it becomes all too clear that Donny has gone completely mad. He builds a steel room, and he burns his mother, and innocent women who he lures back to the house using various techniques.

With all its charm, Don’t Go in the House is of course not a flawless piece. Poor sound quality aside, there is also the issue that some of the events progress a little too quickly, eager to reach a conclusion as Donny’s demons literally take over him. With a run time of just 80 minutes, the film establishes Donny’s character relatively well, but could do with exploring his past in more depth.

What Don’t Go in the House lacks in some of its narrative, it gains bonus points for in make up effects and creating the atmosphere of each scene. The house, which we are told inherently not to go in, is suitably creepy, very reminiscent of how a haunted house would appear to us in our darkest nightmares. What’s more, a particular highlight is a scene in a nightclub, with funky disco music juxtaposing the macabre nature of Donny, who is attempting to ‘fit in’, but failing miserably as he has to make a hasty exit when he becomes frustrated at a lady he is rather failing to impress.

Don’t Go in the House is an interesting and enjoyable ride, but it falls short in its ability to be particularly memorable.

Special features include a trailer, teasers, and Arrowdrome horror trailers. The DVD also comes with a booklet by horror expert Anthony Timpone.

Flickering Myth Rating: Film *** / Movie ***

Cat Fyson

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