Although not exactly a genre in its own right, horror cinema has milked every last penny out of bunging ‘Don’t’ into a title.

Don’t Open The Door, Don’t Look In The Basement, Don’t Go Into The Woods, the list goes on and on, each with its own ominous tone.

The epitomy was probably Edgar Wright’s mock trailer which was part of the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse package, which he simply titled ‘Don’t’, along with a comical voiceover and fast cutting.

Laughs are most definitely not in evidence though in this 1979 effort, unless you find strung-up women being incinerated by a flamethrower-wielding nutjob a barrel of laughs – which I doubt many people do.

And that, ladies and gents, is about as much as you need to know plotwise for this Joseph Ellison-directed slice of grime.

Dan Grimaldi plays Donny Kohler, a billy no-mates type character who still lives at home with his mother.

Turns out his mum was the vicious type, who used to get her kicks from burning her son’s arms over the stove.

After a workplace incident that leaves a colleague with severe burns, Kohler returns home to find his dear old mother has croaked it.

While the sensible thing might be to bury her and move on with his life, the disturbed Kohler instead decides to rig up his house as a mock-incinerator, and then trawl the streets looking for gullible women he can bring back home and turn to toast.

If this all sounds particular grim and nasty, there is a simple reason – it is.

That may be why I sat through it, although it would be a bit of a stretch to say I enjoyed it.

Don’t Go In The House is the type of film I simply could not see being made today, or if it was would be ludicrously toned down.

Relentlessly downbeat, dour and pessimistic, this is pretty much the polar opposite of a feel-good movie.

The acting is nothing to write home about, although performances in this type of film rarely are.

Ellison certainly creates an impressive mood though, even if it is downright sleazy and exploitative.

There are echoes of other late 70s/early 80s psycho shockers such as Maniac – another gory opus that is difficult to sit through.

But in many ways Don’t Go In The House is in a league of its own, especially with its bizarre decision to roll out some 70s disco over the closing credits.

This fright flick will certainly not be to everyone’s tastes, but it is still pretty impressive in terms of the stain it leaves on the memory.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.