House by the Cemetery (1981)
Directed by Lucio Fulci

Starring Anja Pieroni Dagmar Lassander Giovanni de Nava Katherine MacColl

A solid gore film from Fulci, "House by the Cemetery" opens with a rather hot young blonde getting her top on after what was apparently a night of making out in said house. She hears a noise, thinks it's her boyfriend. But when she finds him, he's been killed off via scissors. Before she has a chance to call 911, she too is killed off with a butcher knife to the back of the skull.

Gruesome stuff, but what else could you expect from an '80s Fulci film? As the story progresses, we meet a young family headed Katherine MacColl (seen the same year in Fulci's "The Beyond" and the year earlier in "City of the Living Dead"). The Dad (Paolo Malco) is a scientist heading to the same New England town where the opening scene took place, and the family has no choice but to stay in the same damn house where a fellow researcher friend of his committed suicide -- the house by the cemetery.

In an apparent nod to "The Shining," released a year earlier, their badly dubbed pre-teen son, meanwhile, is having visions of a young girl warning him not to go into the house. We also later learn that the house was owned at the turn of the century by a certain Dr. Freudstein, who was charged with conducting illegal experiments. And, when the babysitter shows up, she looks suspiciously like the manican we previously saw beheaded in a girl's vision.

Like "The Beyond," the film is hallucinatory. It has a more coherent story than that film and stacks up as one of Fulci's better works. The story combines elements of "The Shining" with more traditional slasher fare and even "Frankenstein." It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the killer of the tale is Dr. Fraudstein, who we later learn has been keeping himself alive with other people's body parts for over 100 years, and that he lives in the basement.

The film's characters actually evolve throughout the story, something unique for a Fulci film. The action is pretty much relegated to the movie's opening scene and it's finale, when Dr. Fraudstein goes after the family. I liked the poetic, final ending.

A 1980s horror movie that has gotten better with age, "House by the Cemetery" is also apparently in the public domain so it's pretty easy to come across in bargain DVD bins.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore


Posted by on September 21, 2011
I It took me a few viewings with some time spaced between them for me to formulate a judgment on this movie. It's a combination of the sublime (stylish direction, brooding atmosphere) and the awful (script, recycled music score), with some bizarre dubbing and an absolute lack of sense or logic. It's also quite leisurely paced during the first half, which willl no doubt deter younger viewers, but I think it has its rewards. There's also more gore than you can shake a stick at, and most of it is effective, though a bit is also somewhat hokey.

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