DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE (1979)
Article 4559 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Joseph Ellison
Featuring Dan Grimaldi, Charles Bonet, Bill Ricci
What it is: Psycho killer
When a disturbed young man discovers that his abusive mother has died, he takes revenge on her by doing all the things she wouldn’t let him do, and by setting fire to her corpse. When her spirit still haunts him, he begins stalking women, luring them into his house, and setting them on fire.
If there’s a major difference between what I call “psycho killer” movies and slasher films, it’s that the latter generally are focused on the mayhem caused by the killer with little concern about the killer’s motivation, while the former are a lot more interested in why the killer does what he does. That’s definitely the case with this one; when you get right down to it, the killer is the only major character in the story, and the movie remains focused on him and his actions throughout. In fact, those drawn to the movie by the promises of violence may well be disappointed by this one; except for one sequence that graphically shows his method of murder, the other killings all happen off screen. Though this might have resulted in a more interesting movie, the trouble here is that the character isn’t really complex enough to sustain that much focus; even at a fairly short 82 minutes, we have lots of retreading the same ground, and there are some scenes that seem only intended to stretch out the running time (such as the scene where the killer goes to a haberdashery to buy clothes suitable for a disco). There is the occasional interesting scene (such as the one in the disco where a woman who tries to draw him into a dance inadvertently causes him to flash back to past abuse), and the movie is certainly competently directed, but it never rises above the obvious.