House by the Cemetery (1981)
Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Written by: Dardano Sacchetti, Elisa Briganti, Giorgio Mariuzzo, H.P. Lovecraft, Lucio Fulci
Starring: Ania Pieroni, Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco
Reviewed By Ross Hughes
Its quite strange that the great man Dario Argento has only now come late into my life but Lucio Fulci arrived so much early. His work of City Of The Living Dead and New York Ripper all were watched by my horror eyes when I was a little one, but House By The Cemetery did not reach my grasp until late in the 1990’s when a group of mates gathered around our VHS to watch a newly released old official Video Nasty.
To say I fell in love with another of the great mans work is an understatement, for the simple truth of it all I was blown away by the structure and charm of what simply was a low budget film, making the total best of its abilities to staggering effect.
Right from the off, we get the idea that this is going to be a wacky trip into cartoon horror, the only way I can distinguish the difference between Argento and Fulci is that if this was a cartoon then Argento would be the overall Simpsons episode and Fulci would be the Itchy and Scratchy segment, his extreme violence all done in tongue and cheek, perfectly a suited tribute to those demented Cat and Mouse that every child in Springfield loves.
The first images we witness is that of a boyfriend with scissors in his heart and his head split open and the screams of his girlfriend silenced by a Knife through the back of her head, into her skull and through her mouth, instantly dismissing the notion that gore-porn was only invented a few years back.
The shocking event took place at the Freudstein house, the towns local haunted house which has just been had new owners in the shape of the Boyle family led by the father Norman (Paolo Malco) wife Lucy (Catherine MacCol) and son Bob (Giovanni Frezzi). Norman who is a Dr, is moving to the house to finish off a research project involving the subject of suicide started by his colleague Professor Peterson who hung himself after murdering his mistress. On arrival, events start to take a sinister turn, why is Norman being recognised by the residents of the town when he claims its his first visit there? Why is a painting hanging in their recent departed house looks so similar to the house they have now moved in too? Why is their young son claiming to have befriended a mystery playmate? Why are there noises being heard in the middle of the night that sound childlike? Why has the Nanny disappeared into thin air? Loads of questions, many for more than just one film maybe, is the father actually driving his wife to the brink of insanity, or could there be a simple explanation…..like a monster lurking in the shadows of the locked cellar?
Echos of The Shining ring through many stages of this film along with Mario Bava’s great horror Shock. House By The Cemetery does a wonderful job in teasing you with what the heck the film is about. Anyone watching this film expecting a massive blood fest will not be disappointed but might be alarmed that the film does not go all out from the off. There is a patience by Fulci not too go too soon, even though when we finally get to the gore, all shackles are off.
Fulci also shows great craft in making the cellar such a wonderful setting, a place where you do not want to be, and by the end, if you love your horror then you be biting your nails with such force at the way the director manages to create such suspense among all the gore.
The film is not without its faults, the quite annoying eye close up set piece is way too much and the dubbing of the kid is quite awful, but the film is a blast from start to end. A video nasty that deserves more praise that it actually gets, and shows that Itallian cinema, really does not make them like they used too….
Arrow have just released a restored version of House By The Cemetery on Blu-ray and Dual Play (DVD+Blu-Ray)
Take a look at the hours of extras included
THE EDITION CONTAINS
– Reversible sleeve with 3 original poster artworks and newly commissioned artwork cover
– Double-sided fold-out artwork poster
– Collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by author Calum Waddell
– Brand new High Definition restoration from the original negative presented totally uncut
– Optional English subtitles for both the English and Italian audio tracks
– Audio commentary with star Catriona MacColl, moderated by Calum Waddell
– Audio commentary with co-star Silvia Collatina, moderated by Mike Baronas of Paura Productions
– Introduction to the film by star Giovanni Frezza
– Back to the Cellar: Interview with star Giovanni Frezza
– Cemetery Woman: Interview with star Catriona MacColl
– Freudstein’s Follies: Interview with special effects artist Giannetto De Rossi
– Wax Mask – Finishing the Final Fulci: Interview with Sergio Stivaletti about his completion of Wax Mask after Fulci’s passing
– Women of Italian Horror: Featuring Silvia Collatina (The House by the Cemetery), Stefania Casini (Suspiria/ Bloodstained Shadow) and Barbara Magnolfi (Suspiria/ The Sister Of Ursula)
– House by the Cemetery Onstage Q&A Cast Reunion: Live from the Horrorhound convention, Indianapolis, March 2011: Featuring Catriona MacColl, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina, Carlo DeMejo and Dagmar Lassander.
– Italian Trailer Compilation: Twenty cult trailers from the golden age of Italian cult cinema including several rare previews from the resume of the late, great Lucio Fulci each prefigured by a written introduction.
– Deleted scene
– TV Spot
– Easter eggs