Killtoberfest 1 – #3: Don’t Go in the House

In All, Movies by Kyu

Killtoberfest continued last night with an oldie but–well, not a goodie, per se. Anyway movie #3 was the wonderfully titled Don’t Go in the House.


I saw this about… 8 or 9 years ago, at one of the QT Fests, which were film festivals programmed, attended and MC’d by Quentin Tarantino, which rocked my high school film nerd socks off. (Talking about movies with that man is just a wonderful experience.) About a third of the way through the movie, something amazing happens and QT shouts out, “BEST CUT IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA” and he is not far off, it’s a really great one.

Unfortunately I have to be even vaguer here than I was with Fallen, because the actual quality parts of the film have to do with some shocking brutality that would be much less shocking after I described it to you. The rest of the film is incredibly goofy late-seventies trash and we can rap about that instead if you can dig it.

So the flick is basically Psycho, right? Only instead of good boy Norman Bates, we have Donny Kohler, who starts out weird and has what amounts to a psychotic break when his mother dies. Donny’s reaction is essentially one of those Sundance film-type stories about characters who are suddenly liberated from their staid lives and can be free to pursue their happiness, usually by standing on desks and/or making out with a quirky girl who may or may not be autistic. Basically they get to do all the things they ever wanted to do but couldn’t because Dad/Wife/4th Grade English Teacher was standing in their way. Donny’s the same way. Only what Donny wants to do now that his Mom isn’t around to get on his case is jump on the furniture, play his disco LPs really loud… and kill women.

Donny’s psychosis takes a lot of forms, some of which the movie eventually explains (it’s ridiculous), some of which ties into his mother abusing him (as well as some very twisted Catholicism). But the murders themselves… Look, in most respects it is a terrible movie, poorly shot, written, and acted. But horror movies are weirdly immune to that stuff sometimes. This is one of those films where an inventive and horrifying method of murder basically carries the whole thing, with the best parts being the tension leading up to the kills. It’s not braindead or lazy, and I wouldn’t call the movie squalid, either. It’s too sick to be sick, so sick it’s actually fine, as in art. I will always respect a film that presents me with something that is horrifying, that is possible, and that demonstrates the human ability to imagine the worst. Even if it’s otherwise pretty damn bad.

Anyway, fuck the trailer, the entire movie is on Youtube:

You could just skip to the best sequence in the film, which really does stand alone. (You’ll find it starting at exactly 18 minutes in, and running through about 34:00.) But I think there’s value in watching the rest of a bad movie just to get to the good stuff. As Stephen King put it in Danse Macabre, you have to drink a lot of milk to appreciate the cream, and maybe you even have to drink some sour milk to appreciate the regular stuff. Panhandling for moments of brilliance in an otherwise bad movie can be a lot of fun. Anyway, that’s my pitch.