The Film (4/5)
1978 could be considered ground zero for the slasher film with the release of John Carpenter's seminal Halloween. Sure, Black Christmas and Texas Chainsaw Massacre beat it to the cinematic punch by about half a decade, but the success of the Carpenter film insured over a decade of copy cats and similar films. 1979's Joseph Ellison directed, Don't Go in the House is just one of the many films to come in it's wake. It is also one of the grimiest, sleaziest, and most memorable of the first wave slashers.
The film stars Dan Grimaldi as Donny. A young man who lives with his Mother (giving the film echoes of Psycho). When he was growing up he was punished by being burned over the kitchen stove. Donny as a grown man now works at a job burning waste (there is a real fire theme in this movie, one of the alternate titles was The Burning). One night he comes home to find his Mother dead. Rather then bury her, he just leaves her in her favorite chair to rot. Donny's peace is short lived as he begins to hear his Mother's voice in his head, and act out because of it. He builds a steel lined room in his home, brings women up to it, and burns them to death.
Don't Go in the House like Bill Lustig's Maniac which would follow in it's wake the next year is in the grim and sleazy mold of slashers. It is a dark, dark film, that has a misogynistic streak quite wide. That being said I love slasher films like this one that chose to be so dark, and unabashedly creepy, so this one had me from the beginning. Admittedly the film is a hard watch at times. There are scenes like the flashbacks where the child Donny is getting his arms burned that are hard to watch.
The lead performance from Dan Grimaldi is mostly solid. There are times where he goes over the top, but at those times he was at least amusing. The film's score creates a nice dark and suspenseful ambiance that helps to set the overall mood for the piece. The direction from Ellison is solid, it's nothing impressive, and I'm not entirely surprised he only directed two films. However, the film though it feels like it feels put together quite loosely ends up feeling a lot creepier and dirtier because of it.
Subkultur Entertainment brings Don't Go in the House to Blu-ray with a quite solid 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite solid with detail, and textures being quite remarkable, colors through muted for the most part being stable, and blacks being deep. There are some instances of scratching, speckling and other assorted damage, but it is minor and not overly distracting.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono track in both English and German. Both tracks are quite suitable with dialogue and score coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues with the track. Dialogue and score were crisp and clear.
Subkultur Entertainment have provided a nice slate of extras for their release of Don't Go In the House. This includes A commentary track with Dan Grimaldi, an on-camera interview with Grimaldi, an interview with Joseph Ellison, and an open matte version of the film. We also galleries, trailers, and an alternative title sequence.
Don't Go in the House is one of the first truly grim and sleazy slasher films, and is sort of a must see. The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite nice, and has a great slate of extras accompanying it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.