FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 4, 2019

SHOCKtober Day 4: ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? (1978)


Well, friends, it's only Day 4 of SHOCKtober and already I've learned a cruel, cruel lesson. Okay yes, I learned not to mix Pop Rocks and Riunite, nor Pop Rocks with Riunite on ice, even though it's so nice. I'm talking about a much more bitter (albeit far less messy) lesson, and that is: just because a movie appears on a double feature DVD with a horror movie, and just because a movie has a very slasher-esque title, and just because a movie has a very horror-esque poster image, and just because a movie is always talked about as being a horror movie...well, I guess that doesn't necessarily mean the movie in question is a horror movie. My bad!

No! No, I refuse to capitulate! It is not my bad. Look at this poster! Look at that title! If this isn't a horror movie, I'll eat my hat. No wait, I'll eat my hair. Then I'll cover my head with the hat I did not eat.


I'm not crazy, right? Does that not scream "Have you checked on the children?" or "What's your favorite scary movie?" or "What your mother and I must know is...where have you put the baby?" I got Are You in the House Alone? in made-for-TV movie double feature along with The Initiation of Sarah, and nowhere on the packaging does it say that, you know, one of these movies will feature Shelley GD Winters as a Satanist and the other will be a drama about rape! It's billed as a "terrifying thriller," in fact. I feel...well, I feel misled, quite frankly.

I will say that there are a few of those unsettling crank calls that can only be found in horror movies of yore thanks to the advent of "mobile" "telephones." I wrote about the horror phones trope here, why it was a good thing and why those days are over. But about 2/3 of the way through Are You in the House Alone?, the jerk who crank calls and asks Gail, the babysitter, "Are you in the house alone?" comes over and rapes her even though, you know, she isn't technically in the house alone but the kids are sleeping and they're very small anyway so she'd might as well be alone I guess. As it's a made-for-TV film, the rape is offscreen and largely silent. Small mercies! It's Phil, one of Gail's fellow high school students, a smarmy preppy type whose money and connections ensure that he'll go unpunished.

As far as the subject matter goes, the film handles it rather well, especially considering the time period. It directly addresses the fact that guys like Phil get away with this sort of thing all the time while Gail's life and reputation are put under the microscope. In fact, it ends on this note:

"How come the law protects the rapist and not the victim?"
"Because the system is wrong."

Not a bad message! Not a message that's changed much since 1978! Are You in the House Alone? is good for the melodrama that it is, and honey, the cast! Kathleen of television's Dynasty as Gail. Dennis Quaid as that jerk Phil! Blythe Danner! Ellen Travolta! And most importantly, Robin Mattson, aka Gina Timmons, aka Gina Capwell, aka Gina Lockridge of television's Santa Barbara.

But regardless, I wasn't expecting...this when I put the DVD in. I was expecting a made-for TV horror movie! This is SHOCKtober, not SADtober. Okay, maybe it's a little bit SADtober. But that's just because of my Riunite fiasco.

1 comment:

Pat Hingle said...

I do love me some 70s made for TV movies about serious issues, but I'll save this for "Sadvember." Also, Robin Mattson did a brief but memorable stint on General Hospital as the psychotic Heather Grant Webber before Santa Barbara.