Updated: Mar 12, 2020
Review by Kelly
“A disturbed young man who was burned as a child by his sadistic mother stalks women with a flamethrower.”
Don’t Go in the House, originally titled, The Burning was released in early 1980 before the slasher boom really took off. As per Wikipedia, “The original UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC and the film later found itself on the DPP 72 list of video nasties. The 1987 UK video release was heavily cut by 3 minutes 7 secs and extensively reduced shots of nudity and graphic close-ups from the scene of the chained woman being burned alive.” With all that said about the film, I couldn’t wait for some practical effects and the burning of people alive!
Donnie is a troubled man. As a child, his mother would tell him that he is evil and that sinners would be punished by fire. As such, she would hold his arms over the flames of their gas stove. His lack of self-confidence leads him to live with his mother into adulthood. After she dies, Donnie begins to hear voices telling him to kill and “do whatever you want.” However, it’s hard to live freely after many years of trauma from both emotional and physical abuse. Donnie then starts to entrap women and burn them alive in his home with a flamethrower. He would tell that they are “witches” and “vain”. Donnie isn’t having a good time and spirals further and attempts to seek help from his local priest but he just tells him to put his evil thoughts away and Donnie is completely unable to do that. He is, however, capable of keeping his burnt victims bodies in a spare room though!
There are a lot of average aspects of this movie, including the acting and the score. I went into this movie expecting, and desiring, great practical effects from the burning of people alive, alas the kills were done off screen. However, what I came away with is a movie less about the gore and more about the psychosis of an abused man. Donnie is deeply and incredibly disturbed. It wasn’t an unpleasant surprise to see minimal blood but after reading about the movie and the cuts it went through, I would really love to see the true vision for the film. I found this movie quite underwhelming overall. I will take a mentally unwell guy with Mom issues a la Norman Bates alongside melting flesh, please!
If you are looking for the blood, guts, and mayhem that the 80s would become known for, you won’t find it here. I would go watch the other movie about a man being burnt alive and terrorizing teenagers. No not Nightmare on Elm Street! The Burning; go watch The Burning (1981).