Digital Hierarchy Movie Reviews
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So thats the overview, in many ways its a lot better than it sounds, its not at all cute, the fighting and weapons especially are quite realistic and brutal in style. For the majority of the film you're left in a half confused limbo, bits make sense here and there but not all of it.
Definately one to rent or to see, it wouldn't be my first choice as a purchase but good if you're fed up with all singing all dancing....
If you want clear music to sing along to, then this one has music pretty close to the originals. And what a fantastic bunch of songs too.
If you want top-flight production values as far as the visuals go, then steer clear.
Whatever its title, this final film from Laurel & Hardy certainly provides mixed feelings. The political satire angle is ambitious, but scarcely appropriate for comedians who rely so much on visual humor (compare with the Marx Brother's classic "Duck Soup"), although the sequence where Hardy distributes key political posts to every but Laurel (he gets to be "The People" is good. But most of the sight gags are not typical Laurel & Hardy routines and several people have claimed the best gags were cut from the film. The film also suffered because co-director John Berry was being investigated for being a Communist, which meant no major distributor would touch it. There is also the shock of the appearance of Stan Laurel, who had been ill before the production and looks like he is at death's door. "Utopia" is a sad farewell to the screen's greatest comic team.
Dan Grimaldi stars as Donald "Donny" Kohler, a momma's boy who works at some sort of a heavy industrial plant when he isn't home tending to his mother's needs. We learn immediately that something isn't quite right with Donny when a guy at the plant catches on fire and Don does nothing to help him. Understandably, this odd behavior aggravates most of the other workers at the plant with the exception of Bobby, a rather friendly bloke who cheats on his wife and who calls Donny on the phone at weird times. These tentative maneuvers to establish camaraderie between the two never find an explanation in the film. In fact, the script gives us little clue as to what is going on in Donny's mind (at least initially). We do know that Mom was some sort of religious despot who burned Donny's arms when he was a child for some supposed transgression. But now Mom is dead, found moldering in a chair up in her room when Donny comes home from work. Whatever will Donald do now that his freedom from domineering old Mum is over? The first thing he does is smoke in the house and crank up the old stereo! Donald knows how to live, but very quickly after discovering Mom upstairs Donald starts to hear voices in his head instructing him to commit grisly crimes.
Kohler runs with these suggestions by turning one room of the sprawling house into a metallic death chamber complete with chains and hooks. Throw in a fire retardant suit and a flamethrower and you get the strong impression that Donald's interests run to indoor barbecues of a most peculiar character. It isn't long after completing this project that Kohler brings his first victim to the house, a foxy '70's gal who promptly finds herself tied up in the room. The following scene, when Donald douses this woman in gasoline and then lights her up, does possess a certain gruesome fascination and probably constitutes the bulk of this movie's notoriety. Our hero rapidly follows up with two further victims, then dresses up the three corpses in old clothes and sits them in chairs in another room of the house. During the rest of the film, Kohler occasionally revisits this room to learn that the corpses torment him with voices only he can hear. All the while, Mom remains upstairs in her chair and Bobby continues to place odd phone calls to his friend in an attempt to get Donny to go out for a night on the town. Throw in a priest, a tepid dream sequence, and some cheesy disco scenery, and a "shock" ending and you have the makings of a low budget classic destined to win over new legions of fans (!).
"Don't Go In The House" would be a complete rip off of Hitchcock's "Psycho" if it possessed any of the wonderful attributes that made that Anthony Perkins/Janet Leigh vehicle such an enduring institution. Instead, we get bad acting, terrible dialogue, bad cinematography, cheesy special effects, and poky pacing. I think I counted at least five separate times where the director used the same footage of Donny driving his vehicle around town. About the only thing that truly works for this film is the gritty, grim atmosphere of Donny's house. The place is spacious on the inside, but at the same time the Kohler abode looks so incredibly seedy that I felt like taking a shower after watching the movie.
The DVD version of "Don't Go In The House" is atrocious; it looks as though they restored the film, if any restoration took place at all, with a piece of sandpaper. Again, this lousy transfer does lend the picture a certain grimly alluring atmosphere, but for a DVD release I would like to see a better quality film. Amazingly, there are no extras on the disc to speak of: no trailer, no commentary, and no production notes. This DVD doesn't even contain a menu screen. When you put the disc in your player, it immediately goes right into the movie. I'm reminded of a VCD when I think about seeing this movie on DVD, although even VCDs have menu screens on occasion. Overall, this film does have a few things going for it, but only hardcore horror fans should apply here. If you must see "Don't Go In The House," consider renting it instead of buying.